Sunday, May 1, 2011

CR Review #14: A Visit From the Goon Squad

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

I had been reading lots of reviews for this book, mostly positive, and mostly intriguing. I made a note to put it on my library list, and then forgot about it. Then it won the Pulitzer prize, and I made a note to check my library list to see how long the wait was. Still wasn't dying to read it, but curious nevertheless.

And then, one day, I read a tweet that made me push it right to the top of the library waiting list…a tweet from John Taylor of Duran Duran. He called it the greatest book ever and told everyone to run out and get it immediately. As a lifelong fan of Duran Duran, this was the sign that I needed that it was time to read this book.

A Visit From the Good Squad is made up of a bunch of inter-weaving chapters, crossing different eras in time and different locations around the world, all more-or-less dealing with the same group of characters. We meet Sasha, a kleptomaniac who lives in New York City and works for a record producer. In the next chapter we meet her boss and learn about his family and his neurosis. Then we flash back 30 years and find out how he was in a rock band and meet the girl who was in love with him from afar. And in each chapter after that, we hop from character to character, era to era, city to city.

I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book, loving the story of the rock & roll and punk lifestyle and finding out more about the tertiary characters in that world. But I didn't love the end of the book -- 30 pages of powerpoint and then a futuristic chapter. Interesting and original, but just not for me.

I'll still give Jennifer Egan another shot, as I found her language and characters to be rich and lifelike (someone else in the CBR3 reviewed The Keep, so that's next for me). Sorry, John Taylor, this was not the greatest book ever. I guess this is why I've always been more of a Simon LeBon girl.

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