Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Club: A visit from the goon squad

This month we read A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan which won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize.

 When I first picked up the book I was nervous that it was going to be another gritty novel with lots of drugs 
and sex (yawn). I was pleasantly surprised when I started the second chapter that it wasn't like that at all.  It was one of the fastest Pulitzer reads we've had so far.  I finished it in less than a week because every day I was so excited to keep reading. 

That being said, I'
m not actually sure I liked the book.  I know I liked reading the book. I like the sense of not knowing what was coming next and who would be taking next (I will say that some of the jumps between characters were hard for me.  I'm a smart person and there were lots of times when I couldn't remember who was who.)  There were chapters that I just loved (oh, the darling 12 year-old and her powerpoint presentation which actually contained very good parenting advice.) but when I finished the book I sort of forgot about it. 

I did some reading of reviews online and the reading world seems to be pretty divided--readers either love the book or they hate it.  I feel like I don't know where I fit in.  I guess I don't really feel anything about the book.  Time is the goon that the "goon squad" title refers to and you would therefore think that time was an important theme in the book.  I guess it was.  That and aging.  And how time and age affect relationships and other people.  But as I'm sitting here typing I'm having to stretch to think about the the conclusions that were drawn about that.  Okay.  So time changes relationships.  Now what? 

Am I just not being smart enough?  What did the rest of you think?

And for next month we're reading the 2011 Booker Prize winner (the Booker Prize is like the Pulitzer but in the UK) which is The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barns.  my friend Dana suggested that we try out some of the Booker Prize winners and I thought it was a great idea so we're trying it out.  Let's see how the Brits compare.

*If any of you need a reminder about the "plot" of A Visit from the Goon Squad here is the 
best description I've found (stolen from here)
The stories circle magnetically around a few characters who recur a bit more frequently than others, and broadly around the American music scene: Lou, a coke-snorting, teenage-girl-seducing music producer in the 1970s, becomes the mentor of an untalented young bass player, Bennie, who becomes a music producer himself, who hires a young woman, Sasha, who has a problem with kleptomania, who sleeps with a young man, Alex, who much later ends up hired by Bennie to engineer the comeback of Bennie's high-school friend Scott, who went off the rails as an adult and ended up one day in Bennie's office with a fish he'd caught in the East River, where Sasha's best friend and boyfriend in college had once gone for an early morning swim with tragic consequences. Bennie's wife works for a publicist named Dolly whose daughter, Lulu, will end up working with Alex; Bennie's wife's brother is a journalist who is arrested for the attempted rape of an actress named Kitty Jackson who has her own fall from grace and is later hired by Dolly to enable the public rehabilitation of a genocidal Latin American dictator.

And now those of you who have not yet read it are dying to.  It was the kleptomania that got you.  Wasn't it?

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your comments. I liked reading the book, but I'm not sure what the point of it was...time is a goon isn't enough. I didn't like the characters much, and maybe what the author wanted us to understand was the complexity of motivations and we never really understand others. But I think I already knew that. I thought Sasha turned into an okay mother...Bennie was a scuzz...Drew was okay...and can't remember the others very well. I loved the Powerpoint chapter as well as the part where the two characters text each other rather than talk...those were my highlights.