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Editorial 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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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.
©2010 Jennifer Egan. All rights reserved. (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks America
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Critic Reviews

"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

By Laurene on 06-17-10

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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28 of 28 people found this review helpful


By Leesha on 02-17-14

You Will Still Get Old, Even If You Never Grow Up

Any additional comments?

<br/>The title of this book refers to goon squads, which are used to attack and intimidate people. The author uses the title as a metaphor for time, which according to her is as ruthless as a goon squad. Time is a thug that steals your youth, energy, creativity and finally, your life.<br/><br/>This book is playfully structured like a record album but instead of 13 songs we get 13 intertwining short stories narrated by 13 different people. Because of the many narratives, it’s hard to summarize the entire book. Each story is a snapshot from a pivotal moment in a narrator’s life. Each character connects, in some way or another, to other characters in the overall story. The stories are not told in chronological order; they jump to different decades and different cities.<br/><br/>Many of the characters are disturbingly self-destructive; others are predatory and sleazy. The poor choices each character makes at a young age will steer them on sordid trajectories and the resulting repercussions will reverberate long into their lives as adults and old age and into the lives of their children. I realize this sounds extremely depressing but surprisingly, it’s not! In fact, at times, it’s wickedly funny. I attribute this to the clever writing of Jennifer Egan. The humor in the book juxtaposes the debauchery and it makes for a fast, clean read. <br/><br/>Every character in this book struggles with change, time passing and aging. The author accelerates and intensifies that struggle by presenting it in an industry obsessed with youth. The music industry revolves around the culture of youth. More than any other art form, rock n’ roll clings to a “live fast, die young” mentality. Don’t suffer through old age. At one point a washed up record executive’s daughter tells him, “This is the music business. Five years is five HUNDRED years.” <br/><br/>Our time here is short; we all have regrets, all of us. The one thing we all have in common is we are all going to get old eventually. Hopefully we will also grow up before we grow old.

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14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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