Jennifer Egan's spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Book Discussion Guide. Prepared by Patricia Moore. About the Book: Bennie Salazar, an aging punk rocker and. LANGUAGE ADVISORY: This excerpt contains language some might find offensive. Chapter 1: Found Objects. It began the usual way, in the.
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A Visit From the Goon Squad. Home · A Visit From the Goon Squad Author: Egan Jennifer. downloads Views 2MB Size Report. DOWNLOAD EPUB. A Visit from the Goon Squad. View PDF. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction book | Fiction | May US → Knopf (Ed. Jordan Pavlin). UK → Constable. NATIONAL BESTSELLER National Book Critics Circle Award Winner PEN/ Faulkner Award Finalist A New York Times Book Review Best Book One of the Best.
I am very disappointed. Complete characters, inventive presentation Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. Sasha wished feverishly that she'd left the wallet there, as if this were an impulse she'd barely resisted. Two security guys showed up, the same on TV and in life:
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Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Manhattan Beach: A Novel. Jennifer Egan. Readers will be pleased to discover that the star-crossed marriage of lucid prose and expertly deployed postmodern switcheroos that helped shoot Egan to the top of the genre-bending new school is alive in well in this graceful yet wild novel.
We begin in contemporaryish New York with kleptomaniac Sasha and her boss, rising music producer Bennie Salazar, before flashing back, with Bennie, to the glory days of Bay Area punk rock, and eventually forward, with Sasha, to a settled life. By then, Egan has accrued tertiary characters, like Scotty Hausmann, Bennie's one-time bandmate who all but dropped out of society, and Alex, who goes on a date with Sasha and later witnesses the future of the music industry.
Egan's overarching concerns are about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, and lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn. Or as one character asks, How did I go from being a rock star to being a fat fuck no one cares about?
Egan answers the question elegantly, though not straight on, as this powerful novel chronicles how and why we change, even as the song stays the same. All rights reserved. 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.
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This book was so much different than what I expected. I certainly wasn't expecting a narrative told in separate connected stories think: It's a bold approach, and it works. The back cover of the book does a pretty apt job explaining it: It's indirectly about them, at least. After starting off with stories focused on Bennie and Sasha as the main characters, the other stories are about people who knew them throughout their lives.
Bennie and Sasha serve as the connecting thread that binds everyone together.
This kind of narrative is gutsy because you have to make sure a each story is interesting in its own right while b holding the reader's attention with so many different characters and c maintaining enough of a connection to the central characters that it doesn't feel random. Here, Egan succeeds on all fronts. With captivating characters and intellectually stimulating prose, she kept me fully engaged and eager to read each succeeding story.
She even plays around with form in an exhilarating way; one story one of my favorites is told as a sort of PowerPoint presentation from the perspective of a young girl. I enjoyed this book immensely in spite of not connecting with it emotionally as much as I did intellectually. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. I thought I would. Typically, any book that involves the music biz with its myriad characters that come in every shade and style of humanity completely engrosses me.
I wanted it to, but it didn't. Maybe it was my state of mind, I don't know, but there was not one emotional punch that landed with me. The characters were cleverly constructed, with lots of smart dialogue and angst-ridden plot points, but I was not moved by a one.
And, frankly, even after repeatedly checking the book description to remind myself of who characters were and what they were supposed to be doing, their outlines somehow kept disappearing in the meandering narrative. I couldn't keep them straight, and their vignettes and individual chapters often with bouncing time-lines and seemingly little connection were indistinct and, for me, ultimately forgettable. At times I felt the writer was working too hard to be clever: As it was, I skipped ahead, just wanting to grab onto some thread that kept me as connected as possible to the difficult-to-follow narrative.
For me it never got there.
There were some interesting, well written sections, but it wasn't cohesive enough to really impel this reader forward to find out what was going to happen. I did get to the end That was about it. Why would someone do those things? And I thought: Who is that person? Where is she going right now?
What does his apartment look like? But in fiction, I can go anywhere I want. Things really got interesting when the new pieces I was working on began to extend their tentacles to a few pieces I had already written. It seems that Bennie, former punk rocker turned music industry executive and Sasha, his assistant, are the two people around whose lives most of the other people in this book connect.
Can you talk a little about how they anchor the book? So I began with that intersection of Bennie and Sasha, and followed it as it fanned out into each of their private lives and then their pasts and futures, and then the private lives and pasts and futures of some other people connected to each of them. It was an instinctive unfolding, with Bennie and Sasha as its starting and endpoint. There are so many wonderful people in this book. Are there any you are particularly fond of or had an especially good or especially difficult time writing about?
I had a ball writing about many of these folks. Beyond that, chance probably has the most impact on lives that are relatively privileged: Presuming that one has the luxury of getting some education, choosing a job, picking a partner, etc.
Music is a huge part of A Visit from the Goon Squad. Why did you decide to make music so significant and do you think it is fair to say that in one way or another it is what connects every character in the book? This time, the music industry—so ravaged by digitization—became another lens through which to look, even peripherally, at some ramifications of technological change. You capture the music industry so well, from the early punk rock scene of nineteen-seventies San Francisco, populated by bands like Flipper and The Damned, to a current day boardroom meeting where Bennie actually serves cow patties to his board members as a metaphor for the shit they are forcing him to serve to the public.
How do you know this world so well? The truth is, I only know it well as a consumer. The one part of the industry that I do know, though, is what it feels like to be a teen who hopes music will transform or subsume her. So, first, what is a great rock and roll pause?
And what inspired this chapter in this particular form? I remember exactly when that idea came to me: I attempted a story that failed, and assumed that would be the end of it.
I became absolutely consumed with the project of writing that PowerPoint. It seems the idea of the pause is very much at work in your book—in the spaces between when people last met or between who they once were as one of your characters says pre-marriage, pre-parenthood, pre-money, pre-hard drug renunciation, pre-responsibility of any kind and who they are now. What intrigues you about the pause? Unconsciously, I think this must be what intrigued me about the idea of pauses in songs when I first encountered it.
But not yet. While much of the action takes place in New York City and San Francisco, you also take readers to Africa, to Italy, to a secret compound inhabited by a third world dictator. How important is setting in your fiction? In almost every case, I began with a place, or even an atmosphere that precedes place, and out of that came people, and events, and eventually a story.
Bennie gets a surprise visit from one of his former band mates Scotty Hausmann, once the young star but now a down and out part-time custodial worker for the city. I want to know what happened between A and B. First, I conceived of this book not as a novel or a story collection, but as an LP: Like any LP, it has an A side and a B side, organized on the same principles of evolution and contrast.
In our era of atomized song-buying, the LP is not just a physical relic, but a conceptual one—which is partly why I wanted to honor and exploit it as a structural model in this book. Are you nervous about the future of language? But what I often end up feeling, even as I experience vertigo at the thought of the future—is that human beings are immensely resourceful, and capable of great beauty and genius, and that language and inner life will survive and even thrive because of those qualities, whatever threats they may face.
Is that so? Can you talk about this connection between music and language? The point of connection between music and language is that both are deep and basic forms of human expression.
At the moment, they both feel imperiled, from a business standpoint will there still be publishing or a music industry in the future?
Culturally and humanistically, these are vast, gaping questions. Join Reader Rewards and earn your way to a free book! Join Reader Rewards and earn points when you purchase this book from your favorite retailer. Read An Excerpt.