A Visit from the Goon Squad

  • by Jennifer Egan
  • Narrated by Roxana Ortega
  • 10 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2011
National Book Critics Circle Award, Fiction, 2011
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction!
Jennifer Egan brings her unique gifts as a novelist and short story writer to a compulsively listenable narrative that centers on Bennie Salazar, an aging punk rocker and record executive, and the beautiful Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs.
Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, but the listener does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other people whose paths intersect with theirs in the course of nearly 50 years, in settings as various as the San Francisco 1970s music scene; the demimonde of Naples; New York at many points, from the pre-internet 90s to a postwar future; and a catastrophic safari in the heart of Africa.
A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about time, about survival, about our private terrors and how we overcome them or don't, and what happens when we fail to rebound. Brilliant, sly, suspenseful, and always surprising - one of our boldest authors at the height of her powers.

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Audible Editor Reviews

Jennifer Egan's several novels and collections of short stories have always been well received, and this book will be no exception. It is a novel, but each chapter holds it own. Like a devious love child of Colum McCann and Bret Easton Ellis, the whole fabric of these characters' lives slides together piece by ugly piece. Egan is a little less heart-wrenching than McCann and a little more moralistic than Ellis, but the total package here is one that will delight many kinds of readers.
The strange treat in this postmodern ensemble is newcomer narrator Roxana Ortega. A veteran of the soap opera scene, occasional improv comic, and supporting actress in films like Miss Congeniality 2, Ortega brings a surprisingly bold and wonderfully solid set of voices to Egan's cast of haunted characters. She begins all breathy and languid with Sasha, the eternally distant and bored kleptomaniac, but then draws listeners closer and closer, starting with the forlorn but gruff Bennie, once a handsome punk rocker and now an aging exec trying to stay on top of the scene. The most delightful segment is Ortega's deftly poetic rendering of little Alison's diary, which in the novel appears as a PowerPoint presentation.
Here's the thing about punk rock: there is always some kind of adventure around the next corner, until one day you wake up old, cold, and sold. This novel contains a lion trying to rip someone's face off, an autistic boy who collects songs that have moments of silence in them, a genocidal dictator taking photos with a burnt-out actress, a bag full of East River fish juice, a couple of wicked awesome lap steel and slide guitar solos, and a truckload of smartphone devices. As time marches forward, backward, and sideways in Egan's portrait of a once-cool music empire now dwarfed by modern technology and fading fast, Ortega gracefully jumps from generation to generation, wondering what went wrong for these people and try to help them get it back. —Megan Volpert

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What the Critics Say

"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." (Publishers Weekly)
“Pitch perfect. . . . Darkly, rippingly funny. . . . Egan possesses a satirist’s eye and a romance novelist’s heart.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“A new classic of American fiction.” (Time)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent, subtle, moving

This novel is made up of what at first seem like merely interlocking stories. The underlying theme is music and authenticity, and the way people in modern life cling to music as a way to hold onto what feels genuine. Some stories are set in the early 1980s, some are set in the future. In time, you come to see how the characters are more closely connected that they seemed initially. But each chapter still stands on its own, except maybe for one that's written in PowerPoint (yes!), and that one works a bit better in print. The narrator is fine, nothing special, but the novel really sneaks up on you, and it ends up feeling like it's about everything, in the way really great novels do.
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- Laurene

read the powerpoint chapter on line

I agree with other reviewers -- this narrator is OK but not great. But it doesn't matter how great she is, the PowerPoint chapter (12, second to last) is a failure in audio. It it is worth timing your "reading" to be near a computer for it. The on-line version available at the author's web site is in color and includes sound clips from the songs that are referenced and is by far the preferred medium for this chapter. The black and white PDF available from audible is much less entertaining and captures less of the author's intent. The audio version collapses into boring nothingness for the last 3 slides in the PowerPoint -- they are graphs, and the narrator "reads" every data point! This is ten minutes of meaningless tedium. The producers of the audio book deserve a big fail for not coming up with a better solution to that.

As to the book, my response was meh through much of it. I could recognize her talent as a writer, but found it hard to really "get into" disjointed stories that were about different characters and hopped around in time. After I got to the end (including the PowerPoint chapter) I could see what she was about, and liked it better on reflection than as I was going through it.
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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-08-2010
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.