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A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan I'll admit to some anxiety before starting this book. I'm not entirely sure reading reviews before grabbing a classic is a good idea. the #8 reviewer in Australia, Ian Graye, did one of the legendary youtube music video reviews for this book, as he did for, was it, Ghostwritten. associated other Mitchell acolytes seem to concur; a general consensus has emerged around the 4.0 dynamic with similarities echoed in the write-ups; with one voice of dissent. with this fairly firm consensus (and other associated readers) what other things could go wrong or right before one even reads the work? (laughs)~~~~ ha goodreads

Goon Squad may be described as a base of Paul Auster with a little Jonathan Franzen, a little Jonathan Lethem, perhaps the slightest touch of John Updike. to this end, Egan's complaint "I am not chick-lit" rings true; there isn't too much frivolous and beach-novelly about this work, which stands as a fairly professional and will-stand-the-test-of-time evocation of two key personalities post-post-punk rock label owners aging and flipping through time/memory. Egan captures manhattan narcisscism:

"I'd rather just go somewhere else."
It took Sasha a moment to understand. "There is nowhere else," she said.

it dashes a little into third world / suddenly manhattan jet-lagged unreality (as the auteur Wes Anderson does perfectly) vibe; (but this echoes Franzen a bit...), and it has the famous "powerpoint chapter;" a chapter in .ppt.

the work suceeds brilliantly in capturing a woman's view of meeting her childhood friends, "our familiar faces distorted now by adulthood" (or something like this, can't find the quote); it captures some twists and turns as the "cool kids" becomes the losers and then back again. animating what could just be a narcissistic manhattan mood piece, however, is the startling ability to capture broken people, and the professional, highly-controlled grasp of incident weakens only in places. Egan understands, so to speak, "time is a goon," and so her command of the high theme of time provides an overlay of value that exceeds her ability to merely evoke the curious habits of the manhattan arts-sector wealthy. (one of the characters briefly finds what might be the most expensive and completely ineffectual medicines possible).

to some degree, I am pushing the 5 out of sympathy for the 3.66 current reading; I've been through two rounds with punk/indie musicians so can already see the similarities with personalities I'm familiar with, but in any case, this is a monumental work and evocation of the arts/PR scene in Manhattan. Egan's own advertisements for her lectures are simultaneously evocative of the arts scene, and a grounds for appreciating the life of the artist herself. 5/5