Susan’s Book Coveting: A Visit From the Goon Squad


Thanks to the lovely Janet Reid, I discovered Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad.

It’s yet another rock and roll book I totally need… Here’s the blurb:

Jennifer Egans spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each others pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.

We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapists couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from the citys demimonde and experiences an epiphany of his own while staring at a sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Museo Nazionale. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult lifedivorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed-up band in the basement of a suburban houseand then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Franciscos punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gangwho thrived and who falteredand we encounter Lou Kline, Bennies catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lous far-flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.

A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to PowerPoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for bothand escape the merciless progress of timein the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.

Bring it ON, boys and girls! Or publicists or whoever can hook me up…


1 Comment

  1. Helen Smith

    December 19, 2010 3:49 pm

    Hi Susan

    I came here today via Book blogs but you kindly featured a contest I was running on my blog last week so it’s not my first visit.

    I hope your hand is better.

    Happy holidays
    .-= Helen Smith´s last blog ..Writing- writing- writing =-.

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