Thursday, November 22, 2018

A Visit from the Goon Squad

I finished reading Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad this week, and I can't stop thinking about it. This is my favorite kind of book. It's written like a collection of short stories with overlapping characters. Each chapter has a different narrator/point of view and is written in a unique style. The best part is that you get to find out what happens to almost every character, even ones who play minor roles in certain stories.

I'm amazed by how complex the book is, how comprehensive—and never cliche. You learn just enough about every character to feel satisfied. And their lives are so brilliantly connected to one another—in a way that each character would have no way to trace those connections, but the reader gets to know all of it. It's so fulfilling to experience as a reader.

I think one reason why I love books like this is because I have a dream of creating an app that tells you when you've crossed paths with a certain person. You bump your phone with someone you just met, and it tells you at what places and times you physically crossed paths with that person. It has no societal value except to satisfy curiosity in the way that A Visit from the Goon Squad does.

AVFTGS also carries really intriguing themes of time and music—how music relates to time, and how all of us relate to time as individuals, and how memory interacts with all of it. But mostly I loved the diverse characters and the complex structure of the novel (which jumps around a lot in time). How did Egan decide the order in which to share each story? How did she decide which characters to include in which story? What was her writing process like in general? I'm so impressed by all of it.\

A Visit from the Goon Squad: would recommend.

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