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A Visit from the Goon Squad Paperback – March 22, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1 edition (March 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307477479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307477477
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (818 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In reading this novel of interconnected lives at the fringes of the music industry, Roxana Ortega freights her breathy voice with the moral confusion and sadness of Egan's disaffected, dismayed characters. A surprisingly supple instrument, Ortega's voice can drop to a gruff near-growl, and she craftily uses her range to convey the feeling of the bottom dropping out of the characters' lives. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 22).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics loved Egan's newest novel, describing it as "audacious" and "extraordinary" (Philadelphia Inquirer). In the hands of a less-gifted writer, Egans's time-hopping narrative, unorthodox format, and motley cast of characters might have failed spectacularly. But it works here, primarily because each person shines within his or her individual chapter that offers a distinct voice and a fascinating backstory. A few reviewers mentioned the uneven nature of the chapters and the different stylistic experiments within them. Yet, hailed as "a frequently dazzling piece of layer-cake metafiction" (Entertainment Weekly), A Visit from the Goon Squad is a gutsy novel that succeeds on all levels. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Jennifer Egan was born in Chicago, where her paternal grandfather was a police commander and bodyguard for President Truman during his visits to that city. She was raised in San Francisco and studied at the University of Pennsylvania and St. John's College, Cambridge, in England. In those student years she did a lot of traveling, often with a backpack: China, the former USSR, Japan, much of Europe, and those travels became the basis for her first novel, The Invisible Circus, and her story collection, Emerald City. She came to New York in 1987 and worked an array of wacky jobs while learning to write: catering at the World Trade Center; joining the word processing pool at a midtown law firm; serving as the private secretary for the Countess of Romanones, an OSS spy-turned-Spanish countess (by marriage), who wrote a series of bestsellers about her spying experiences and famous friends.
Egan has published short stories in many magazines, including The New Yorker, Harpers, Granta and McSweeney's. Her first novel, The Invisible Circus, came out in 1995 and was released as a movie starring Cameron Diaz in 2001. Her second novel, Look at Me, was a National Book Award Finalist in 2001, and her third, The Keep, was a national bestseller. Also a journalist, Egan has written many cover stories for the New York Times Magazine on topics ranging from young fashion models to the secret online lives of closeted gay teens. Her 2002 cover story on homeless children received the Carroll Kowal Journalism Award, and her 2008 story on bipolar children won an Outstanding Media Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons.

Photo credit Pieter M. Van Hattem

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Customer Reviews

The story in itself is great, but the writing technique that Egan uses made it even more interesting.
Adrien B. Fisher
Each of its thirteen chapters is told from the perspective of a different character, yet each of them connects in some way to other characters in the overall story.
William Merrill
I thought the power point chapter was too clever for its own good and by the end of this book I was flipping through the pages just to finish it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,119 of 1,216 people found the following review helpful By diane roy on October 25, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although the book, itself, was thought provoking and cleverly structured, I would warn anyone who elects to read the book digitally that the "powerpoint" chapters are extremely difficult to read on the Kindle. The print is so small and the back grounds so dark that even a magnifying glass was little help. The font size selection feature on the Kindle did not work on the "slides" for those chapters.
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544 of 600 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
After reading a few chapters of Jennifer Egan's latest novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, I'd determined it was really a collection of linked stories more than a novel. Reading further, however, I saw the larger themes and the cohesiveness of the whole. It is, indeed, a novel, and an excellent one at that!

The book opens sometime in the recent past, and kleptomaniac Sasha is recounting a story to her therapist. Her former boss, record producer Benny Salazar, is mentioned in passing. The next chapter takes place several years earlier. Here Sasha is still Benny's assistant, and now it is he that is the first person narrator. Benny's just trying to get through a visit with his pre-teen son while mentally stifling a lifetime's worth of shame. He reflects, in passing, on his old high school gang, and in the next chapter we're back in San Francisco, circa 1980, with them. Benny wants Alice, but Alice wants Scotty. Scotty wants Jocelyn, but teenage Jocelyn is seeing Lou, a record producer more than twice her age. Don't worry, he'll get his chapter.

They all get a chapter or two or three. The story skips back and forth in time and place. The voice moves from first person to third person and even to second. Asides or characters that seemed tangential become central. And eventually several themes become apparent. The main one is not even subtle, as the traversing between points A and B is referenced several times in various ways. Scotty at one point asks, "I want to know what happened between A and B." An aging rock star's comeback album is entitled A to B. Even the two sections of this book, which might have been labeled "Part I" and "Part II" in another book, are here "A" and "B."

Another theme is the passage of time.
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184 of 206 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In Jennifer's Egan's lively and inventive novel - A Visit From The Goon Squad - each character feels his or her mortality. Each is in a tenuous danse-a-deux with time and aging, otherwise known as "the goon."

Every chapter is told from a different character's point of view and it is no accident that the novel starts with Sasha - the assistant of music producer Bennie Salazar, one of the key focal points. Sasha has sticky fingers and is constantly pirating away meaningless objects to compose "the warped core of her life." These objects serve as talismans, placing her at arm's length from the love she wants.

And Bennie? A one-time band member and arrogant indie genius, he is now one step removed from the action, adding flakes of gold to his coffee to enhance his libido and bemoaning the state of digital technology. Like Sasha, he's at arm's length from a direct connection with love and life in general.

Bennie and Sasha will never know much about each other - even though they've worked together for decades - but the reader comes to know them through various stories. We get to know Lou, Bennie's charismatic, misbehaving, skirt-chasing mentor during a harrowing African safari; Dolly, the PR mogul who places her own daughter in harm's way; Jules, the ex-con journalist whose lunch with a Hollywood grade B actress goes terribly wrong; Ted Hollander, Sasha's art-loving uncle, who travels to Naples to find her. Each will add a little something to our understanding.

Yet none of their stories is told in chronological order, or even through flashbacks. Rather, time is revealed like the grooves of a record album, jumping from track to track in what appears to be no particular order.
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83 of 98 people found the following review helpful By J. Minatel VINE VOICE on August 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have to say I was surprised, no make that stunned, when I saw this book had won a Pulitzer. I'd read it and found it mostly boring and forgettable. Everyone's taste in literature is different, and obviously, I don't have a Pulitzer vote so what do I know. I thought the pace was plodding and at the end, there was very little point to having read it.

And, the huge sections of PowerPoint slides posing as chapters? That comes off as a desperate ploy rather than genuine creativity. If you want some creative fiction that's edgy and exploratory, read Vonnegut. Let the powerpoint in the conference room.
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145 of 176 people found the following review helpful By kennamom on May 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
From the time I read the first review of A Visit from the Good Squad, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it myself. So I was thrilled when on a recent business trip I inadvertently packed my novel into my checked bag and had to buy a new book at the airport bookstore. However, it took all of my willpower to finish it. I usually love novels where disparate characters' paths cross over time. This novel was too much of that. Although I read it in just several days, I kept having to refer back to the earlier chapters - who was Alex again? Lulu? Scotty? I really disliked the way Egan, repeatedly, synopsized the rest of a character's life in a single, long paragraph. Midway through as I realized I wasn't enjoying the book, I told myself to not think of it as a novel, but instead think of it as a series of short stories. Didn't help. So many of the vignettes seemed pointless. I would describe Egan's writing as descriptive, but not necessarily rich. I didn't find myself vested in any of her characters. And I found the description of the future world, 202x, at the end very contrived. I so wanted to love this book. I purchased it believing it would be one of the best novels I read all year. I was really disappointed...in it, in myself.
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