Customer Reviews for

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

excellent character study epic

Record-company executive Bennie Salazar wonders where the years went as he listens to another horrific band of young untalented egos that believe they belong at the top. Divorced, he feels removed from his tweener son as if he still lives in analog and the kid is digit...
Record-company executive Bennie Salazar wonders where the years went as he listens to another horrific band of young untalented egos that believe they belong at the top. Divorced, he feels removed from his tweener son as if he still lives in analog and the kid is digital. Bennie thinks back to the late 1970s in the Bay area when he was young and part of the punk band Flaming Dildos that thought they belonged at the top.

Bennie's former assistant Sasha is a mother hiding out in the desert after a youthful life of impulsive thieving. Her tweener daughter Alison thinks her mom is out of step with the digital world.

Meanwhile Bennie meets Alex who dated Sasha. He later hires him to obtain the services of fifty paid "parrots" to pretend to be fans of a group performing at a concert. His target audience he informs Alexis is the silent future majority who text rather than speak.

The key to the five decades of Bennie and others is what happens to a person when cynical age fueled by addictions and complacencies overcomes youthful rebellious fervor. Character driven with a powerful ensemble cast who all seem fully developed, the loci points anchor the epic story line are Bennie and Sasha. Jennifer Egan is a virtuoso as readers will relish the changes of the information age as music is a terrific milieu as the industry travels from vinyl to cassettes to CDs to DVDs; mirroring society.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on June 1, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

30 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

A great read with an eyesore in the middle for Nook readers

The publisher really should have taken a bit more time formatting this book for the Nook. (Or any ereader, really. I've heard the following complaint from users of competing readers as well.)

In the chapter that's written in Powerpoint format, the "slides" really are...
The publisher really should have taken a bit more time formatting this book for the Nook. (Or any ereader, really. I've heard the following complaint from users of competing readers as well.)

In the chapter that's written in Powerpoint format, the "slides" really are too small to be read comfortably on the Nook. They fill less than half the page, and unless you're in a brightly lit room with good eyes (or glasses) you'll probably strain to read the pages.

And no, changing the font size doesn't do anything to improve the situation.

Shame on Knopf Doubleday for glossing over this important factor. It's a disservice to readers of the ebook and the author.

posted by cmichaelcook on May 3, 2011

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A great collection of stories

    This book is a collection of interlinked stories, but each one could easily stand on it's own as an excellent work of short fiction. They collectively give us a snapshot of the class system in modern America and an examination of where "art" ends in music and commercialism begins. Many of the characters could be the basis of an excellent novel and their reappearance from different views over many decades of narrative gives a novel-like depth to them. By writing as a collection of stories, Ms. Egan is able to experiment with different voices and styles of writing which make reading the collection more interesting. I was also quite intrigued by the presentation of one story in a non-traditional format that dominates much of my professional communication (don't want to give the details away). I found the final story somewhat weak compared to the rest, partially due to it's futuristic setting; nonetheless, I understand it's placement and purpose in the collection.

    13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2011

    Time Is a Goon

    Egan is a brilliantly economic writer whose literary chops are on full display here. Though some might be disappointed not to find a linear novel in Goon Squad, there is a pulsing energy to each and every one of these stories ("Safari" and "Selling the General" were my favorites), and each story is threaded together with familiar themes and characters. The penultimate tale, however--the much-discussed Powerpoint presentation--seems a bit too artsy and post-modern cool for my taste. To be fair, it wasn't the actual technique I didn't like (I'm all for writers taking chances and the characters in this one were no less engaging), it was the sheer volume of pages it took up. Though great for the Nook, in printed form it looks wasteful, as wasteful as many of the characters that inhabit Goon Squad (and perhaps that is Egan's point, but for me it just took too many pages to be worthwhile). Otherwise, there is not much I would change here. Indeed if I wished anything different of Egan's stories is that they could have been drawn out into novellas and novels of their own. But of course that criticism is only praise in disguise. Time is a goon and this goon is done...

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    "When does a fake Mohawk become a real Mohawk? Who decides?"

    Kaleidoscopically interweaving the hopes and dreams, successes and failures, thoughts and actions of a vast array of utterly compelling characters, Jennifer Egan knocks it out of the park with GOON SQUAD. I found this novel--its centrifuge the punk-rock scene of San Francisco in the late 70's and outward from there--riveting from start to finish. It is funny, heartbreaking, poignant, honest, and both innovative and intricate in its conveyance of these desperate, lost, brilliant people and the traversing of their lives across several decades, states, countries, vocations, fates, destinies, and deaths. It's also a thrillingly surprising narrative. Never had any idea where it was going to go. Chapter 12 alone floored me. Floored. Being a Pulitzer-junkie, I always run right out and purchase whatever novel wins the prize (if I have not already read it, I mean) and 90% of the time I feel disappointed in the winner, thinking, 'Wait--why did this book win? It's really not that good.' Well, I understand why GOON SQUAD won the Pulitzer for fiction. And I concur. I will not easily forget it. It was a wild ride.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Recommend with reservations.

    Not sure why this book won the Pulitzer. Although the writing was polished I had a hard time following the story line. Almost felt I needed an outline to follow the characters. This was recommended by our Book Club and we have not discussed yet so maybe I missed the whole point.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2012

    Interesting Fare...

    This us a novel that will ultimately br studied in literary courses, ans,d deserves a place among the great American madterworks. Each chapter is captivating and interesting. Some if this is caused by a lack of a consistant chronology between the chapters. Even if the time always shifts to unexoected places, the characters stay present, making the connections that chronology cannot provide. The characters are deeply detailed, but each ounce of characterization is easily devoured. I highly suggest this novel. You won't regret readung it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2011

    Wonderful

    This was a great read. The signature of the book consists of intertwining characters that disappear and resurface throughout the book. It's much less about the music industry than you might think, which surprised me after reading the description. The music "business" is merely a backdrop. The actual story is much more about people who take a more eclectic path when going through life. Nothing more. I'm looking forward to the second read. I believe this book actually needs it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2013

    Good read

    I haven't read her other books, but I enjoyed this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    For all of you who don't know much about fiction, not all novels

    For all of you who don't know much about fiction, not all novels have to have a beginning, middle, and an end! imagine that! there is ACTUALLY a thing called a MODULAR NOVEL. Modular means specifically that it is NOT LINEAR. That is what this book is - a modular novel. it is not SUPPOSED to be following just one person, but be a quilt of pieced together bits that help you learn from each of the different characters. Egan is a beautiful lyricist so don't discount her novel just because you don't know what you're talking about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2012

    "Time's a goon, right?"

    You get to know things about the characters that are painstakingly personal. What Egan has done here is nothing short of brilliant.

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  • Posted March 25, 2012

    Interwinding stories

    vignette style novel, very well written but not out of the ordinary.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Great Read

    I agree with what others have said about this book. Good characters, good, simple narratives, and the powerpoint was annoying to read on the nook.

    My favorite part was the amazing imagery that Egan comes up with. Definitely worth the time.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2011

    Odd but Captivating

    This book was my vacation read, something I could pick up and put down between the real Fun. I found myself intrigued by the characters, wanting to know more of all the invisible connections between them and was really engrossed by the story. Definitely a great read not just in between Fun!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2011

    The only bad part of this book, is that the stories are too short!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2011

    Lots of characters and a neatly woven storyline

    This was a book club selection by one of the gals in our group and I was intrigued by the title.... 'goons' means different things to different people. This book explores the lives of at least a handful of people - and how they are all connected. There are some graphics in the book that were a little difficult to read on my Nook but once I adjuster the font it was all good! If you've ever wondered what some of your friends' lives were like before you met them, this would be an interesting read for you. I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to others.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    What was the point?

    I enjoyed reading about each character in the book, but in the end I was disappointed because I found it difficult to tie all the stories together. Even though I wish that I understood better the point of this book, it was an interesting read. I got to read about characters in every kind of situation you could imagine, and understand their complex emotions. The fact that almost all of the chapters had something to do with music was cool, too.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 19, 2011

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    Posted May 1, 2012

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    Posted July 18, 2011

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    Posted July 26, 2011

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    Posted April 10, 2011

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