Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and a PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist.
Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Jennifer Egan reveals the pasts of Bennie, an aging former punk rocker and record executive and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs.
If Jennifer Egan is our reward for living through the self-conscious gimmicks and ironic claptrap of postmodernism, then it was all worthwhile. Her new novel, is a medley of voices -- in first, second and third person -- scrambled through time and across the globe with a 70-page PowerPoint presentation reproduced toward the end.
I know that sounds like the headache-inducing, aren't-I-brilliant tedium that sends readers running to nonfiction, but Egan uses all these stylistic and formal shenanigans to produce a deeply humane story about growing up and growing old in a culture corroded by technology and marketing. And what's best, every movement of this symphony of boomer life plays out through the modern music scene, a white-knuckle trajectory of cool, from punk to junk to whatever might lie beyond. My only complaint is that A Visit From the Goon Squad doesn't come with a CD.
Ms. Egan’s vision is mostly dystopian, but what makes it most memorable is the eccentricity. She imagines that the aftermath of 15 years of war have led to a baby boom. And technology has eagerly leapt to accommodate a new demographic group: gadget-loving children. Pity the poor rock stars who find themselves at the mercy of toddlers who have purchasing power. Ms. Egan slyly turns one Goon Squad recurring character into one of those stars.
As thought-provoking and entertaining as Egan’s speculative projections are, A Visit From the Goon Squad is, in the end, far more than a demonstration of the author’s skill in bending time, form, and genre. It’s a distinctive and often moving portrayal of how — even when their inhabitants don’t realize it — lives can intersect and influence one another in profound and enduring ways.