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A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan has been an intriguing read for me thus far, though I am not entirely sure how to describe it's format. The piece is advertised as a novel, yet each chapter can stand alone as a short story. Personally, I cannot decide whether it is more an anthology centered around this group of characters, or rather a diced and shuffled novel.

Throughout the collection/ novel, several characters interact over the course of about forty years. Each section gives insight to a portion of one of the characters' lives at any given moment, and each is written from a new point of view. For example, the first chapter/ story, “Found Objects”, depicts the life of Sasha as she battles her kleptomania with the help of a therapist. From her point of view, we learn the names of a few characters she knew in her 70s and 80s punk rock days, though we learn little about them. Then, in “The Gold Cure”, we catch a snippet of her friend Bennie's life as he struggles to relate to his son. Every section coincides with the others via character relations, thematic undertones, and other aspects of the typical story, giving it the aura of a novel; however, the construction of each chapter along with the deviations in time, space, and perception loosens the ties from one part to the next.

The writing style of Egan is very easy to read, yet smart and entertaining at the same time. Her personification of time is exquisite and definitely inspires deeper thinking, even though the plot is scattered between different times, places, and characters. The development of these people from their youthful escapades in the punk rock scene to their present and future selves as normal everyday people is impressive, because there is a sense of consistency when sorting the events by time frame, even though from cover to cover it is jumbled.

As with any book, there are parts I loved and parts I hated, yet as a whole it does not seem like any part needs omission. "This is reality, right? You don't look good anymore twenty years later, especially when you've had half your guts removed. Tim's a goon, right? Isn't that the expression?"(127). A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan is an interesting commentary on how time affects everyone. I will definitely be picking up one of her other books in the near future.

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