It’s hard to describe Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. It’s not really a novel, with a single narrative strand; but I wouldn’t describe it as a collection of short stories, either. It’s more of a literary symphony. By which I mean it’s chapters, featuring overlapping characters and situations, synthesize into a mellifluous harmony. 

The opening chapters introduce us to music producer Bernie Salazar and his assistant Sasha, a closeted kleptomaniac. Tertiary characters, who make an appearance or are briefly mentioned, become the focus of ensuing chapters; the same character never narrates more than one chapter; and Egan gleefully shifts the action backwards and forwards through time as she interrogates the interconnectedness of dozens of lives.

It’s ambitious, absolutely; and equal parts compelling and alienating. The narrative takes various forms, and Egan deploys different styles. I’d love to mind-map the whole thing; really deconstruct the novel, properly consider its architecture. It’s a book I admired more than I enjoyed as a storytelling experience. Unpopular opinion, but I prefer Manhattan Beach

ISBN: 9781780330969
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
Imprint: Corsair
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 9-Jun-2011

One thought on “Review: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

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