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`Time's a goon, right?'
on May 10, 2011
The novel is a collection of short stories which are related to Bennie Salazar, an ageing former punk rocker and record executive, and his assistant Sasha. Each story (chapter) is told by a different person, in first, second or third person and takes place at different times and different parts of the world. And time is the key to this novel: we readers are observing the lives of people who wonder what has happened, where have the years gone, and how they could have passed so quickly? The lives of Bennie and Sasha touch on a number of different levels. While Bennie and Sasha have known each other for a long time, they do not really know much about each other. We come to know them through the various stories told in the novel.
We meet many of the characters both as teenagers and then as adults and see that although life has moved in often unexpected directions, the desire to belong is still constant. Seeing Bennie Salazar's life from a number of different perspectives provides a series of links between the past and the present for both Bennie and those characters.
We meet Bennie Salazar at a low point in his adult life. Bennie is divorced and is struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son -- and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, enjoying San Francisco's punk scene, discovering his passion for rock and roll.
We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist's couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, and then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend.
Somehow it seems fitting that there is a journal presented as a PowerPoint presentation towards the end of the novel: modes of communication and presentation continue to evolve, even as Bennie bemoans the state of digital technology.
I admired the structure and presentation of this novel, and enjoyed the way in which Ms Egan presented the lives of Bennie and Sasha. Some music and art may prove to be immortal: the people who create it are not. Time's definitely a goon.