The Way We Text Now: Jennifer Egan’s Mindshattering Visit from the Goon Squad

book-cover---a-visit-from-the-goon-squadAccording to John Bastian, host of Page by Page, books like the Pulitzer Prize winning A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan suggest a trend toward novels that buck conventions like single p.o.v. and central character.  And while it’s easy to compare Egan’s technique in Goon Squad to collage, one of her book’s many pleasures (style; beautiful prose; a satiric, humorous bent; originality of character and plot to match the book’s formal unconventionality; etc.), is the ultimate fitting together of parts that at first appear disparate.  Each chapter, although chapter might not accurately describe each section, forced to fend for itself, provides an easily-palmed mini plot, and these collect into a panoramic, tragicomic saga, a meditation on the passage of time, on parenting, youth, aging, the Zeitgeists of eras past, present and future, memory, regret, and salvation.   Obviously I loved the book.  I’m embarrassed to admit that the section “12 Great Rock and Roll Pauses” a PowerPoint presentation by a young girl, Alison Blake, really, really did it for me.  It’s a wonderful coda.  The ending, set in a scarily feasible not-too-distant future, is, without giving too much a way, a bit jarring, as it posits the logical extension of our culture’s obsession with hand held digital devices and changes in the way we communicate.  Such a weaving together of multiple voices and points of view might not actually be new, but Bastian is certainly correct in his suggestion that it is an appropriate reflection of contemporary, global culture.   Whatever the case, this is a fun, smart, remarkably original book and you should read it.

-Ed Scripsi

Published in: on June 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] a fairly light posting schedule until the week of the 11th.  Also, since none of you jumped on Ed’s suggestion, you’ll have to do without A Visit from the Goon Squad until then, and when you do get it it […]

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