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A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A Visit From the Goon Squad From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia A Visit From the Goon Squad  A Visit From the Goon Squad.jpg Author(s) Jennifer Egan Country United States Language English Publisher Alfred A. Knopf( Random House) Publication date 2010 Media type Print ( Hardback & Paperback) ISBN [masked] OCLC Number [masked] LC Classification PS3555.G292 V[masked]

A Visit From the Goon Squad (2010) is a work of fiction by American author Jennifer Egan.[1] It won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction,[2] and the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.[3] It is being adapted by HBO into a television series.[4]

Most of the stories in A Visit from the Goon Squad concern Bennie Salazar, an aging rock music executive, his one-time assistant, Sasha, and their various friends and associates. The book follows a large cast of mostly self-destructive characters as they grow older and fate sends them in directions they did not intend to go. The stories shift back and forth in time, moving from the late sixties to the present day and into the near future. Many of the stories take place in or around New York City, although some are set in CaliforniaItaly and Africa.

Contents   Novel or short story collection?

Because of its unusual narrative structure, some critics have characterized the book as a novel, while others have described it as a collection of linkedshort storiesA Visit From the Goon Squad is composed of 13 chapters, most of which can be read as individual stories, and it does not focus on any single central character or narrative arc. In addition, many of the chapters in the book were originally published individually as short stories in magazines such as The New Yorker and Harper's. However, all of the stories share a set of common characters and repeating themes. In an interview with Salon.com's Laura Miller, Egan stated that she leaned towards describing the book as a novel rather than a short story collection.

Themes

"Goon squads" were originally groups of violent thugs who would beat up anyone opposed to certain labor unions and corrupt political machines. Later the term "goon" came to refer more generally to any violent thug, and this is where the book draws its central metaphor. In one story, a character named Bosco declares: "Time's a goon, right?",[5] referring to the way that time and fate cruelly rob most of the book's characters of their youth, innocence and success. As Bosco complains: "How did I go from being a rock star to being a fat fuck no one cares about?"[6] Some of the book's characters do end up finding happiness, but it is always a limited happiness, and it is rarely in the form that they intended. In an interview, Egan explained that "time is the stealth goon, the one you ignore because you are so busy worrying about the goons right in front of you."[6]

Many of the book's characters work in the music industry, particularly the rock music business. Rock and Roll, with its emphasis on youth culture, plays into the book's themes of aging and the loss of innocence. As Egan says, "my 9-year-old loves Lady Gaga and refers to Madonna as ‘old school’. There’s no way to avoid becoming part of the past."[6] Rock music was also central to the marketing push behind the book, although the actual text does not focus directly on musicians or music making. Egan said she knew Rock and Roll only as a consumer at the time she began writing the book and had to do a lot of research on the subject.[7]

Egan said the story was inspired by two sources: Proust's In Search of Lost Time, and HBO's The Sopranos. It is a novel of memory and kinship, continuity and disconnection.[8]

Critical reception

The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. The Pulitzer Prize Board noted that the novel was an "inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age, displaying a big-hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed".[3] In commenting on her Pulitzer, NPR critic Jonathan Bastian noted that "Egan is the one of the most recent and successful examples of a trend that has been steadily seeping into the world of contemporary literature."[1] The unusual format of the novel, taking place across multiple platforms, has led some critics to label the novel "post-post modern".[9] Many critics were impressed by some of Egan's experiments with structure, such as a section formatted like a PowerPoint printout.[10]

Other honors included:

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  • Debbie

    Tracy did a great job sharing and hosting this event - we enjoyed it and the company.

    June 29, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I enjoyed hearing about other peoples reaction to this book. I always learn something. It's a good group!

    June 28, 2012

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