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Book Club Chat: A Visit from the Goon Squad

Book Club Chat: A Visit from the Goon Squad post image

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.

For some much more articulate and interesting reviews, I suggest checking The Book Lady’s Blog, Devourer of Books, and nomadreader.

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?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog December 18, 2010, 9:05 am

    I’ve been recommending DAY FOR NIGHT by Frederick Reiken to anyone who enjoyed the format and playing with time in GOON SQUAD. And the language is gorgeous, too. Thanks for the shout-out, and I”m glad you loved this fabulous book.

    • Kim Ukura December 19, 2010, 12:34 pm

      Rebecca: Thanks for the recommendation; I’ll look for that one too, since I did just love the format of this book and have been craving more like it.

  • nomadreader (Carrie) December 18, 2010, 10:09 am

    This book has really stuck with me. I’m generally a fan of interconnecting stories, but the novel-lover in me favors more connection than less (i.e. Olive Kitteridge.) One I keep hearing great things about and hope to get to this month is In Other Voices, Other Rooms by Daniyal Mueenuddin.

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one too!

    • Kim December 19, 2010, 12:36 pm

      Carrie: The balance between too much and not enough connecting is tricky. I loved the way this book did it, although wouldn’t have complained about more connectedness. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Mystica December 18, 2010, 4:25 pm

    New to me so thank you for thispost.

    • Kim December 19, 2010, 12:36 pm

      Mystica: I hope you get a chance to read the book.

  • Steph December 19, 2010, 10:11 pm

    So glad to hear you liked this book so much! It’s on my list of books that I want to try to read before the year is up, but even if I don’t make it in time, I’ll definitely make time for it next year!

    Also, in terms of loosely connected stories, I can’t say that this is officially that, but Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell really worked for me because of how everything ties together. I’ve heard that’s something he does in quite a few of his novels, so you might try him if you haven’t already!

    • Kim December 21, 2010, 10:17 pm

      Steph: I think you’ll like the book, at least I hope so. And thanks for the recommendation – I feel like I’ve heard of Cloud Atlas before, but can’t think of where.

  • Melissa January 13, 2011, 1:49 pm

    I’m reading this now … not sure I’m feeling the literary love for it yet … but as for recommendations of other, interconnected stories, perhaps give Mrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy Winn a try.

    • Kim January 15, 2011, 11:37 am

      Melissa: Thanks for the recommendation, and I hope this one improves for you!