“Time’s a goon, right? Isn’t that the expression?”
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’ve seen at least 20 great reviews of this book (linked at the bottom of this page), and I know it’s been short-listed for a gazillion prizes and won quite a few of them (NBCC 2010, Pulitzer 2011, longlisted for Orange 2011), and I just don’t get it.
The characters are certainly vivid – Sasha, the kleptomaniac; Bennie, the sad middle-aged producer who seems intent on giving himself and his son heavy metal poisoning; La Doll, the misfortunate publicist extraordinaire and Lulu her daughter… but they were all unlikeable and unsympathetic – so set on being different, being “those who couldn’t fake it”. I didn’t want any of them to get out of their predicaments, I didn’t feel sorry for any of them.
The way Egan weaves these interlinked short stories together, moving back and forth through time and characters and media (including the now infamous Powerpoint chapter, 75 Powerpoint slides of Sasha’s daughter’s thoughts – I thought it was actually rather good, certainly unusual and absorbing), is clever and I like the idea (much as I enjoyed the linked vignettes of One Day). I just wish she’d used more likeable characters. Plot is near to non-existent – just some miserably parochial occurrences in the lives of the indifferent.
What did I miss that was so spectacular? So polarising? So prize-winning?
I do try to make a habit of linking to other reviews (otherwise why am I saving all the links?), but for this one I have split out the lovers and the haters.
Fleur Fisher; Ready When You Are, C.B.; Literary Musings; Buried in Print; The New Dork Review of Books; Teadevotee; London Review of Books; Just William’s Luck; The Reading Ape; Hungry Like the Woolf; Sandi at You’ve GOTTA Read This; NPR; TIME magazine (Top 10 fiction books of 2010); Dorothy at Of Books and Bicycles; The Mookse and the Gripes; Keep Calm and Read a Book
(the ‘aye’s seem to have it.)