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Customer Review

123 of 151 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A contrived, pretentious and utterly soulless novel - truly abysmal, May 26, 2011
This review is from: A Visit from the Goon Squad (Paperback)
Awful and unbelievably pretentious. Supposedly a great novel - god knows why a number of newspaper literary critics thought so and it's unbelievable that it has won two major literary awards, which only makes the novel more depressing a reality compared with the reviews, since you are expecting something wonderful.

Egan's attempts to be wry, clever and 'with it' - in this instance, the focus is on the American music industry, and the trials, shenanigans and viewpoints of some individuals within it and its periphery - leave you feeling nothing at all for her characters (because they're all narcissistic, ego-inflated bores).

Her failed efforts at being clever amount to nothing more than sophistry, and two particular scenes/chapters highlighted by many reviewers to date as good are uninspired and tiresome. These involve a chapter in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, detailing in schematic/diagrammatic form a family matrix and its individuals' views and connections; and an article written in the style of David Foster Wallace, including - of course - footnotes and digressions galore (arguably an homage, more in truth a dull-witted effort, with none of the brilliance or ingenuity or riffing, clever tangents that Wallace so effortlessly produced in his fiction and journalism).

You keep on hoping it will get better, but sadly, miserably, it doesn't. Plodding stuff that will bore you to tears and, unless your proclivities include watching paint dry or wallpaper peel, I'd stay clear of this abysmal, contrived effort.
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Showing 1-10 of 25 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 22, 2011 6:11:00 AM PDT
A good review, but I sure wish you'd left "the emperor's new clothes" hanging in the closet. I vote for a moratorium on that tattered trope.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2011 5:11:50 AM PDT
bobbygw says:
Hi Andrew - cheers - both comments appreciated. I confess my use of that cliched phrase was because, as we both know, it's so instantly recognisable and understood - a simple phrase speaks volumes. None the less - it's lazy to use it...so have updated accordingly!

Posted on Aug 14, 2011 1:03:12 PM PDT
Mimi says:
Your review is spot on! And yes, the Emperor and this book are altogether naked. I had laboured through the first five chapters cheering for Egan to hit her stride. She never did. Finally, I put the book down out of sheer disappointment and frustration. Now that I know it does not get any better, I can blithely read through the end without undue anticipation of greatness. Thank you for this dose of reality. I will at least finish the book more as one finishes a chore.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2011 1:49:55 PM PDT
Karen S. says:
I FINALLY finished this book - though I had to get a hard copy, since the chapter with all the diagrams was illegible on my Kobo - and I really disliked it. I read it for my book group - the person who chose it is reading it for a SECOND time because she loved it so much! We obviously have very different tastes in books. I struggled to get through it, found every excuse not to pick it up. Was not at all engaged in any of it and I disliked the characters. Maybe our book discussion will enlighten me, but this was a bomb to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2011 12:24:29 AM PDT
bobbygw says:
Cheers, Mimi - I felt everything you did - the sense of difficult labour, the terrible disappointment and frustration. Just staggering that it won the Pulitzer, among other prizes for fiction. Many thanks for posting - it's always great to have feedback; especially for those of us who, in regard to this novel, feel in the minority viewpoint; most others seem - inexplicably to me - to love it!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2011 12:27:28 AM PDT
bobbygw says:
Hi Karen S. - my heart goes out to you that you have to endure a book discussion about it; but I shall keep my fingers crossed that there will be others, like you and me, who share your sense of painful struggle in trying to read it. Even if they don't, what the heck - it gives you an opportunity to vent your spleen, and you know you are one of a vocal minority who detests this drab wet dish cloth of a novel! Cheers for your posting...Best wishes, bobbygw

Posted on Aug 28, 2011 1:25:34 PM PDT
Solanum says:
Was going to review this book but you said almost everything I was thinking.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2011 9:08:44 PM PDT
bobbygw says:
Hi Solanum - thank you for taking time to post a comment. Still, I'm sure there may be things you were thinking of writing about that I haven't said, or more examples. My review was only brief - frankly, I 'lashed out' from being so disappointed, frustrated and angry not only at the poor quality of the novel, but the fact it was hyped so much and then won awards (not that the author can take responsibility for that). Also, those who feel like we do, ar still a minority on Amazon's reviews for this title, albeit a vocal one, when you compare her 4 and 5 star rated reviews. So I do still recommend you take a mo to write your review and vent your spleen! All the best to you, bobbygw

Posted on Jan 21, 2012 5:32:42 PM PST
I couldn't agree more with this reviewer. Goon Squad is perhaps the worst trash I've ever read.

Posted on Jun 12, 2012 4:12:28 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 12, 2012 4:14:00 AM PDT
SJ O'Brien says:
Completely agree. Self conscious, pretentious and deeply contrived. A superficial look at a superficial industry in a superficial society. Middle class Americans and their middle class problems, yawn.

The powerpoint presentation had the benefit of novelty but little more. And given the context it seemed an odd device would people still be using powerpoint in the future?

An utter bore of a read.
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