A Visit From The Goon Squad

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A Visit From The Goon Squad

by Jennifer Egan

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | March 22, 2011 | Trade Paperback

A Visit From The Goon Squad is rated 3.25 out of 5 by 4.

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
National Book Critics Circle Award Winner
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
A New York Times Book Review Best Book

One of the Best Books of the Year:
 Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR''s On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.75 in

Published: March 22, 2011

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307477479

ISBN - 13: 9780307477477

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Liked it but it was forgettable I was not captivated but it kept my interest. I enjoyed the way it was written, each chapter told through the perspective of a different character at a different time. However, this book made no impact and was quickly forgotten. I have no desire to read it again. There was not enough to make me feel.
Date published: 2013-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Though at the beginning, I questioned the characters and how they linked, I then started to like the individual stories each chapter introduced and started to see the thread, sometimes thinner than others, that tied each one together. I liked how the story came full circle, ending close to where it started. A really interesting read.
Date published: 2011-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spectacular Effectively a series of short stories within a novel, this one takes us through the lives of a series of moody, interesting characters who come entirely to life in single chapters. I read this and The Imperfectionists concurrently, by coincidence, and found the model similar. Really efficient writing that comes through with humour, sweetness, and painful concerns about where we're actually going.
Date published: 2011-06-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not my cup of tea I really, really tried to like this book, but I just couldn't and quit reading it after about 80 pages. While I understand the intent of Ms. Egan, I really couldn't understand the concept nor grasp it. My major complaint about the book was that I could never really understand where I was nor the time period that was being written about. Hence I couldn't get my head around it and was starting to get confused about what was going on.
Date published: 2011-06-04

– More About This Product –

A Visit From The Goon Squad

by Jennifer Egan

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.75 in

Published: March 22, 2011

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307477479

ISBN - 13: 9780307477477

About the Book

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A "New York Times Book Review "Best Book
One of the Best Books of the Year: "Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR's On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, " and "Village Voice"
Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, "A Visit from the Goon Squad "is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 Found Objects It began the usual way, in the bathroom of the Lassimo Hotel. Sasha was adjusting her yellow eye shadow in the mirror when she noticed a bag on the floor beside the sink that must have belonged to the woman whose peeing she could faintly hear through the vaultlike door of a toilet stall. Inside the rim of the bag, barely visible, was a wallet made of pale green leather. It was easy for Sasha to recognize, looking back, that the peeing woman''s blind trust had provoked her: We live in a city where people will steal the hair off your head if you give them half a chance, but you leave your stuff lying in plain sight and expect it to be waiting for you when you come back? It made her want to teach the woman a lesson. But this wish only camouflaged the deeper feeling Sasha always had: that at, tender wallet, offering itself to her hand-it seemed so dull, so life-as-usual to just leave it there rather than seize the moment, accept the challenge, take the leap, fly the coop, throw caution to the wind, live dangerously ("I get it," Coz, her therapist, said), and take the fucking thing. "You mean steal it." He was trying to get Sasha to use that word, which was harder to avoid in the case of a wallet than with a lot of the things she''d lifted over the past year, when her condition (as Coz referred to it) had begun to accelerate: five sets of keys, fourteen pairs of sunglasses, a child''s striped scarf, binoculars, a cheese grater, a pocketknife, twenty-eight b
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From the Publisher

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
National Book Critics Circle Award Winner
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
A New York Times Book Review Best Book

One of the Best Books of the Year:
 Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR''s On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

About the Author

Jennifer Egan is the author of The Keep, Look at Me, The Invisible Circus, and the story collection Emerald City. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, GQ, Zoetrope, All-Story, and Ploughshares, and her nonfiction appears frequently in The New York Times Magazine. She lives with her husband and sons in Brooklyn.
 
Visit the Jennifer Egan’s official website: www.jenniferegan.com

Editorial Reviews

“Pitch perfect. . . . Darkly, rippingly funny. . . . Egan possesses a satirist’s eye and a romance novelist’s heart.” — The New York Times Book Review “At once intellectually stimulating and moving. . . . Like a masterful album, this one demands a replay.” — The San Francisco Chronicle “A new classic of American fiction.” — Time “Audacious, extraordinary.” — Philadelphia Inquirer “A spiky, shape-shifting new book. . . . A display of Egan’s extreme virtuosity.” — The New York Times   “Wildly ambitious. . . . A tour de force. . . . Music is both subject and metaphor as Egan explores the mutability of time, destiny, and individual accountability post-technology.” — O, The Oprah Magazine   “The smartest book you can get your hands on.” — Los Angeles Times   “A rich and unforgettable novel about decay and endurance, about individuals in a world as it changes around them. . . . [Egan] is one of the most talented writers today.” — The New York Review of Books “It ends in the same place it starts, except that everything has changes, including you, the reader.” — The New Republic “Clever. Edgy. Groundbreaking. . . . Features characters about whom you come to care deeply as you watch them doing things they shouldn''t, acting gloriously, infuriatingly human.” — The Chicago Trib
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Bookclub Guide

US

1. A Visit from the Goon Squad shifts among various perspectives, voices, and time periods, and in one striking chapter (pp. 234–309), departs from conventional narrative entirely. What does the mixture of voices and narrative forms convey about the nature of experience and the creation of memories? Why has Egan arranged the stories out of chronological sequence?

2. In “A to B” Bosco unintentionally coins the phrase “Time’s a goon” (p. 127), used again by Bennie in “Pure Language” (p. 332). What does Bosco mean? What does Bennie mean? What does the author mean?

3. “Found Objects” and “The Gold Cure” include accounts of Sasha’s and Bennie’s therapy sessions. Sasha picks and chooses what she shares: “She did this for Coz’s protection and her own—they were writing a story of redemption, of fresh beginnings and second chances” (pp. 8–9). Bennie tries to adhere to a list of no-no’s his shrink has supplied (p. 24). What do the tone and the content of these sections suggest about the purpose and value of therapy? Do they provide a helpful perspective on the characters?

4. Lou makes his first appearance in “Ask Me If I Care” (pp. 39–58) as an unprincipled, highly successful businessman; “Safari” (pp. 59–83) provides an intimate, disturbing look at the way he treats his children and lover; and “You (Plural)” (pp. 84–91) presents him as a sick old man. What do his relationships with Rhea and Mindy have in common? To what extent do both women accept (and perhaps encourage) his abhorrent behavior, and why to they do so? Do the conversations between Lou and Rolph, and Rolph’s interactions with his sister and Mindy, prepare you for the tragedy that occurs almost twenty years later? What emotions does Lou’s afternoon in “You (Plural)” with Jocelyn and Rhea provoke? Is he basically the same person he was in the earlier chapters?

5. Why does Scotty decide to get in touch with Bennie? What strategies do each of them employ as they spar with each other? How does the past, including Scotty’s dominant role in the band and his marriage to Alice, the girl both men pursued, affect the balance of power? In what ways is Scotty’s belief that “one key ingredient of so-called experience is the delusional faith that it is unique and special, that those included in it are privileged and those excluded from it are missing out” (p. 98) confirmed at the meeting? Is their reunion in “Pure Language” a continuation of the pattern set when they were teenagers, or does it reflect changes in their fortunes as well as in the world around them?

6. Sasha’s troubled background comes to light in “Good-bye, My Love” (pp. 208–33). Do Ted’s recollections of her childhood explain Sasha’s behavior? To what extent is Sasha’s “catalog of woes” (p. 213) representative of her generation as a whole? How do Ted’s feelings about his career and wife color his reactions to Sasha? What does the flash-forward to “another day more than twenty years after this one” (p. 233) imply about the transitory moments in our lives?

7. Musicians, groupies, and entertainment executives and publicists figure prominently in A Visit from the Goon Squad. What do the careers and private lives of Bennie, Lou, and Scotty (“X’s and O’s”; “Pure Language”); Bosco and Stephanie (“A to B”); and Dolly (“Selling the General”) suggest about American culture and society over the decades? Discuss how specific details and cultural references (e.g., names of real people, bands, and venues) add authenticity to Egan’s fictional creations.

8. The chapters in this book can be read as stand-alone stories. How does this affect the reader’s engagement with individual characters and the events in their lives? Which characters or stories did you find the most compelling? By the end, does everything fall into place to form a satisfying storyline?

9. Read the quotation from Proust that Egan uses as an epigraph (p. ix). How do Proust’s observations apply to A Visit from the Goon Squad? What impact do changing times and different contexts have on how the characters perceive and present themselves? Are the attitudes and actions of some characters more consistent than others'', and if so, why?

10. In a recent interview Egan said, “I think anyone who’s writing satirically about the future of America and life often looks prophetic. . . . I think we’re all part of a zeitgeist and we’re all listening to and absorbing the same things, consciously or unconsciously. . . .” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 8, 2010). Considering current social trends and political realities, including fears of war and environmental devastation, evaluate the future Egan envisions in “Pure Language” and “Great Rock and Roll Pauses.”

11. What does “Pure Language” have to say about authenticity in a technological and digital age? Would you view the response to Bennie, Alex, and Lulu’s marketing venture differently if the musician had been someone other than Scotty Hausmann and his slide guitar? Stop/Go (from “The Gold Cure”), for example?


(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit: www.readinggroupcenter.com.)

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