A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon SquadA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I put this book on my to-read list while reading Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing – she mentions it more than once as a stellar piece of writing. Other than Shapiro’s recommendation and having read Egan’s The Keep some years back – remembering that it was a wild ride of a different sort – I had no preconceptions and no idea that Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize.

To begin I gave myself a quiet hour in the car during a kid-sport practice. The book is sad, depressing really, and when I hadn’t picked it up a week later I thought I might just return it to the library, especially as this is the holiday season and, truly, things can be sad enough without the addition of sad stories. But the thing is, I had thought about it several times a day during that week. The stories are haunting. Loosely connected, chronology jumping hither-thither, characters floating in and out, it reads like a series of short stories. I kept flipping back and forth to see which characters were related to which others. A dark-comedy-sans-comedy version of High Fidelity – musically-related characters winding in and out of each other’s lives, burning each other body and soul.

I am grateful to have finished reading it, and grateful it’s over. Like The Keep, I think the writing will continue to spook me unexpectedly for years to come. Time is a goon, after all. I simply hope to have more hope as time passes than the characters in Egan’s books.

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