book review: a visit from the goon squad

My friend who teaches grade 12 English recommended I read Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad. It took me a while to get to it but I’m glad I did.

It’s a novel centred around music, but centred is a bad word. It’s much more scattered than that, bouncing itself about in time telling stories of people tangentially connected to each other. Each of the sections could stand alone as a short story (and I gather that at least some of them were published that way) and that’s part of why my friend is teaching it. He could give each person in class responsibility for becoming an expert in one chunk and then Voltron everything together with presentations in class.

Most of what I liked about the book was the shifting form of it. A different friend of mine has no patience for this kind of thing. She just wants a story that keeps her interested and makes her feel something. This book doesn’t do that per se. But there’s a chapter that’s done as a slideshow, which is amazing and inspiring as a writer looking for a form to be most comfortable in.

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