A Visit from the Goon Squad

I recently picked up A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan on account of its high recommendation by the New York Times book review. At first, I couldn't really tell what I was getting myself into; constant narrative changes make it difficult to initially figure out where the plot really lies, as no one character is our primary narrator for more than a single chapter. However it becomes clear that the characters we meet in the first two chapters, Sasha and Bennie, are the threads which tie the entire novel together.

Egan jumps seamlessly across time, narrative perspective, and stylistic form to tell Sasha and Bennie's story. Though we initially meet Sasha as a kleptomaniac in her mid-thirties working for Bennie's record company, the stories that function to reveal these characters' pasts and futures are told through the experience of people near and far: Bennie's high school bandmates, his ex-wife, Sasha's uncle, a man with whom Sasha went on an uninspiring date, her college best friend. The lives of these supporting characters could stand as short stories in themselves. By including them, however, Egan forces her readers to piece together the events leading up to the final page. Though she takes us back and forth in time through a constantly changing set of eyes, Egan does so in an eloquent and subtle way, all the while effortlessly revealing the larger picture by reeling you in. If nothing else, this book is a beautiful display of Egan's ability to craft a story, this one centering around time and music and the connections that lead us wherever we go.

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