Why didn’t I listen when everyone was telling me to read A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan? It won scads of awards when it come out in 2010, it was on everyone’s radar, and yet I resisted. Why do i do that sometimes?
Well, I thought Good Squad was about music and the entertainment industry. I thought it was about a band called The Goon Squad. I thought it was set in L.A. All these assumptions were, at least partially, incorrect.
A Visit From The Goon Squad is a series of linked short stories. They span about 30 years and true, most of them are tangentially related to the music industry. By that, I mean in most stories at least one character had some connection to music at some point in their lives but music is not the focus on the narrative.
I enjoyed Goon Squad immensely. Egan is a truly talented writer. The stories are multi-layered with strong characters and meaningful themes. A Visit From the Goon Squad just goes to show that sometimes when everyone is raving about a book there is a good reason for it.
Who would like this book? A Visit From the Goon Squad is a great pick for anyone who loves contemporary fiction that pushes the boundaries stylistically. It also provides an insightful commentary on the times in which we live and our dependence on hand held devices. Remember, not so long ago we couldn’t get in touch with others instantly. I would also push this book on anyone (like me) who claims they do not like short stories. Because the stories are linked so closely, there has been a lot of debate as to whether Goon Squad is a novel or a collection of stories. Either way, it made me reconsider my dread of short stories.