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on March 15, 2015
Yeah, it's ok good. Way overrated.
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on December 4, 2013
This is one of the best novels I've ever read. Even its power-point presentation chapter drips with more emotion (and heartbreak) than the typical work of fiction. Give this brilliant book a chance and you will be deeply rewarded.
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on September 13, 2012
It reads like a series of intertwining short stories--and a novel, all at once. It won the Pulitzer, and with good reason. Apparently, this book is an homage of sorts to Proust's Remembrance of Things Past--but essentially it is about time, the passage of time and what is lost and gained, remembered, cherished and forgotten--time here being the goon squad that visits us all.
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The cover of "A Visit From The Goon Squad" labels the book "a novel" and most critics have referred to it as such. However, if you wish to read a novel, look elsewhere because Egan has actually written a collection of linked stories.

But forget categorization; Egan's work displays brash beauty as she delves into the power of shame, an emotion which makes one present in the moment as effectively as does fear or desire. The protagonist, Bennie, a famous music producer, catalogues his shame on the back of a parking ticket. His assistant, Sasha, deals with hers by compulsively shoplifting. The stories also follow the interlocking fates of compelling, tender and humourous characters: Bennie's high school crowd, Sasha's parents, her uncle and her suicidal friend.

As well as shame, Egan's themes include immortality, redemption and a longing to master time. She proves a fearless writer and takes risks by employing different points of view and unconventional styles including a 75-page interlude in power point. These edgy techniques range from jarring to brilliant but, overall, they unite to form a well-crafted collection that ventures vitally into new territory.
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on January 2, 2012
This is a very well written book. Complex but not confusing. Full of symbolism and metaphors. Very relevant to real life. Well worth the read.
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on December 14, 2011
I picked this book up based on a recommendation from a friend of mine. And I'm happy to report that my friend was bang on. This was a great book. Whether it was the constant references to great musical acts, the writing style, or the great background to the characters, I really enjoyed this novel.

Be warned though. This book doesn't follow the standard novel formula. And all I mean by that is the chapters are each written from a different characters perspective. String them all together and author Jennifer Egan has managed to write great little book.
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on September 8, 2011
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this book. It's an easy read and I looked forward to reading it each day. I liked the characters and their specific voices Egan crafted for them. I liked the segmented, perspective narrative Egan took with each character. It was just a good all-around book - would I recommend it? Yes. Would it be on a top 25 list? Not even close. It winning the Pulitzer, to me, says less about the strength of this book and more about the crop of books it was up against.
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on July 14, 2011
This book is very unevn: interesting in parts and very uninteresting in parts. She loses the reader when she goes into esoteric details.
However, its interesting when characters reappear at various points later in the novel; its makes for a richer "fabric" in the book. But I find that the "notes" in the middle serve no purpose whatsoever except perhaps as an experimental element.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 8, 2011
What's it like to be a super successful record producer? Do you stay true to your art? Do you remain true to the people who got you there? What about personal relationships? Do you care about them or do the temptations of the moment hold sway over your attention? These are questions Ms. Egan attempts to answer in her book, 'A Visit from the Goon Squad.' The narrative jumps between characters and time with relationships being the biggest victim of a lifestyle that focuses on the ephemeral and the moment. Like no other art form, music captures the now in all its variations of emotions. Memory is captured in a song. It's hearing brings us back to a place and time. But, what if the music is you. What if you are responsible for producing it? What happens to the here and now? Are you able to separate yourself from the song and come back to the place and time that ultimately defines you? Sasha is the discombobulated groupie wanting part of the fairytale that is Benny, the producer's, reality. Ms. Egan provides her characters with a life that moves us beyond their terrible pathos so that we can relate it to our own.
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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.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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