"Time's a goon, right? You gonna let that goon push you around?"
Since it won the Pulizter, A Visit from the Goon Squad has been discussed and reviewed quite a bit around the blogosphere. Instead of recapping the 13 chapters (all of which could stand alone) and their non-linear structure, I want to talk about why I think this book is so special. Jennifer Egan has created a unique masterpiece that is unlike anything I've read in quite some time.
Egan has connected a multitude of memorable characters over a span of 50 years in a storyline that explores time and memory, the self-destruction and disappointments that inevitably ensue as we age and the redemption and second chances that we take, if we're lucky. These themes may seem hackneyed, but the narrative structure in which she writes them are altogether unique. It's a beautifully complicated novel, but not confusing in the least.
A Visit From the Goon Squad uses the idea of music and the music industry to convey these themes. Egan connects the relationship of music and life, highlighting their connection of time, to suggest life's tumultuous instances, the disorder and the starts and stops, the "pauses" and restarts, all work to create our reality, whether its the one we've planned for or not. Egan suggests its the disorder that ends up organizing our lives.
The pause makes you think the song will end. And then the song isn't really over, so you're relieved. But then the song does actually end, because every song ends, obviously, and That. Time. The. End. Is. For. Real.Again, this device may seem trite, but she executes it in a way that is completely inimitable. The entire novel is so delicately weaved, connecting ideas that, to me, are incredibly relevant; the overall effect is quite refreshing. If this is how the future of fiction reads, I couldn't be more excited.
Publisher: Anchor Books, 2010