Monday, 27 August 2012

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (3/5)

The back says: A Visit from the Goon Squad vividly captures the moments where lives interact, and where fortunes ebb and flow. Egan depicts with elegant prose and often heart-wrenching simplicity, the sad consequences for those who couldn’t fake it during their wild youth – madness, suicide or prison – in this captivating, wryly humorous story of temptation and loss.

I say: This is a book that’s seemingly been all over the place for some time now, and that has been getting some great reviews, which generally means that I stay clear of it. However, as always in these cases, I saw it at the library and decided to give it a go.

And I did, but wasn’t impressed.

In my opinion, this reads more like a collection of short stories rather than a novel. The reason it’s called a novel is, I suppose, because each new chapter deals with someone that was mentioned in the previous one.

In a way, I felt cheated.

Yes, cheated.

Mainly because I had no interest in some of these characters, and I was sort of lured in to continue to read just so that I would be able to find out what was to happen to the characters I did care about. We visit the characters in different eras, ages and states of fortune, and although I understand why some people would find this type of narrative appealing, hard as I tried, I just couldn’t get into it all.

Having said all that, I have to agree with some of the praise Egan has been getting for her beautiful prose. Regardless of what I think of the plot, the narratives flow together rather seamlessly for the most part, and although I think that some of the characters were approached with a similar ‘voice’, it was well-written enough for me to keep reading.

Except for the interview/article about Kitty Jackson that read so pretentiously that I merely skimmed through it.

So yeah, 3/5 because of the prose – otherwise I would have given this a 2/5.


  1. This sounds like a skip. Even if the writing is great the story and characters have to be interesting and this just doesn't sound like my cup of tea. Once again I'm glad someone else read it and vetted it for me! :)

    1. I tend to not like books that focus on more than 3-5(ish) characters. I prefer books that just follow the one protagonist (or a couple more if it's done well enough), so this was doomed from the start.

      The synopsis still sounds great to me and I hate it when they do that and don't deliver.

  2. Meh, from your review, I don't think I'm going to like this one.