Tuesday, March 13, 2012

CBR IV # 16 - A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

I hated the Invisible Circus. I thought I would love it because of all the hippy 70's stuff, but I truly did not like it. It was so whiny. I only picked this book up because I had heard such good reviews and thought why not give it another try? A few pages in to the book, I thought it would be more of the same. Whiny white women who really have nothing to whine about, when you think about it. But after the first chapter, I started to really get into it.

The book structure.. Going into it, I didn't know what to expect and was initially a bit confused, expecting a more or less conventional narrative like The Invisible Circus. The book is actually thirteen (?) short stories about people who are interconnected. The chapters jump from person to person and from the 70's up to a New York in the near future. Sometimes the connections between the people in the stories are merely passing, a one night stand in one case. In some cases the connection is deep and lifelong. These characters recur throughout the book, and somehow, you get an idea of the arc of their life. Sometimes it takes a little time to orient yourself since the stories aren't chronological, but you end up getting who is who and what happened to whom.

At first, I though it was going to be another whiny white lady book like The Invisible Circus, but I was pleasantly surprised. Egan was very good at writing pretty much horrible people (or maybe just horrible flawed ones) and making them sympathetic. At times they are beaten down by the time and life and you always want them to have some sort of happy ending. It was an interesting read. A bit melancholy, but rightly so.

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