Review #22: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

7 Apr

I read Jennifer Egan’s The Keep and loved every creepy, fantastical minute of it. While I’d place The Keep on the mystery or horror shelf,  Egan’s 2011 Pulitzer Prize winning A Visit from the Goon Squad shows that Egan’s distinctive style translates across genres. While this book covers many topics: families, sex, drugs, passion, work and everything in between – it’s primarily about music. Music pulses through this book, whether explicitly in chapters about the music industry or implicitly in the chapters about those tangentially affected by it.

The book is advertised as telling the story of Bennie and Sasha, but I found this was more like an anthology of short stories about a series of interrelated characters. While one chapter might be about Bennie, the next was about his college friend, the next about Bennie’s PR executive, the next about Sasha’s brother, and so on. Each character is fully developed in the short vignette; you know exactly where they are in their lives and how they got there. It was exciting to speed through the chapters, hoping to learn a prior character’s future when they popped up in another character’s story.

This book traces the music industry over a span of about 30 years, looking at all of its participants: listeners, music executives, rock stars, aging rock stars, undiscovered talent, talent wasted. It touches upon the changes in the industry over time, and how the rise of technology first crippled and then fundamentally altered the music industry. The book is engaging, and music lovers will probably appreciate the personalized stories detailing the ups and downs of the music industry.


5 Responses to “Review #22: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan”

  1. Bill Chance April 7, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    Thanks for the review – I have this on my to-read list… now I think i’ll move it up a couple notches.

  2. inalonelyplace April 9, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    I read this in two days last year when my back was out and literally couldn’t put it down. A very deserving Pulitzer winner.


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