A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan



This is a book club book that once again has taken me to reading a book that I may not have read otherwise.  I grew up listening to The Goons every Saturday, so I went into this novel by Jennifer Egan thinking of The Goons.  The Goons this book is not.  It begins with kleptomania Sasha talking with her therapist about her long term habit whilst she justifies her behaviour. Each chapter was connected, yet disconnected, with different narrators, and time frames.  There is one chapter that is written in the form of a power point, from the Sasha's daughter, Alison, and whilst it is interesting to a point (contemporary writing), and also putting across a point about who she was and how she was communicating, as a reader, it was slow and clunky to read, yet getting the Egan was pressing the point of change, (from the 70's to now) and technology and Alison's brother's obsession with pauses in songs as we have a pause in our thoughts as we turn each page for the power point slide.  There is also a letter from a Jules Jones while he is in prison for attempted rape, to his victim, Kitty Jackson, movie star, which is the transcript of his interview with her, which is somehow funny.

The main gist of the novel is set in San Francisco, punk 1970's music scene, with a few of the characters reappearing more than others.  There is Sasha, the kleptomaniac receptionist who works for Bennie and Alex who she had sex with when she was young and comes back many years later to reinvent Scott's carreer.  Bennie has made it big as a music producer after failing as a musician when in a band with Scott and after being mentored by Lou the coke-sniffing, teenage girl chasing music producer.  Scott has his career reinvented by Bennie after many years of no contact when he comes in with a fish pulled out of the East River, the same river that Sasha once lost her long lost best friend.  There are many threads intertwined in here, but it is a complex story with the discontinuity of the chapters. 

Interesting book.  I think I was lost somehow with the disconnection.  It made more sense by the end, however, I found myself spending a bunch of time throughout catching up on what I had read & who was who and how they were connected.  I suspect that this may be reread to truly understand it.

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