On Thursday, my in real life book club met to discuss our most recent selection, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Because we can be so pokey about setting up times to meet — we’re all busy reporters with relatively odd schedules — by the time we got around to this book we didn’t have a lot to discuss because we couldn’t remember much except that we either “really loved” or “really liked” the book.
Luckily, I wrote down a few book thoughts when I finished the novel awhile ago, so I can at least write a short little review.
So, as I said, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a pretty awesome book. It’s not really a novel, and it’s not really a collection of short stories. It’s more like a series of loosely connected tales, where minor characters from one story become the center of another story set in a different time and place.
And every chapter is written in a different style, which adds to this tangle of voices and stories — there’s one written as a celebrity profile, and another done entirely in PowerPoint!
The starting characters are Sasha and Bennie. Bennie is an aging music producer, and Sasha is his assistant battling a problem stealing things. Every other character, in a way, ties back to these two and their lives as the music industry changes.
At first the jumping around is unsettling, but after just a couple of stories I got sucked in to the world that was being drawn around and through these different characters. It was fun seeing them in different worlds and different places, being different versions of themselves. It was this sort of gentle mental exercise that I love when I read. When I closed the book after finishing, I just thought, “Wow, that was freaking awesome.” I love that feeling.
I decided I really like the format of loosely connected stories — any other selections to recommend?Or, what do you do when your book club loves and book and runs out of things to talk about?