Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book Recommendation: "A Visit From the Goon Squad"

Earlier this year, everyone at work was buzzing about this book, but I was caught up in a string in non-fiction books and didn't take much notice. Finally one of my fellow English teachers left a copy of Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad on my desk. I took the bait. And was it ever worth it....

I don't say this too often, but I really believe that Jennifer Egan is a genius when it comes to characters and structure. The blurbs for A Visit From the Goon Squad entice the reader with a story of a lonely and lost record producer and the promise of a voyage into the music industry. However, this description only begins to scratch the surface of what is really going on in this novel. Every single chapter is written from the point of view of a different character, at a different point in time, experiencing a different event. However, as the book progresses the connection between the characters becomes more apparent and more intricate until a microcosm of human nature and experience is eventually revealed.

What really dazzled me about Egan's writing is her ability to make you care deeply about a single character in the span of a twenty page chapter. For most writers, it takes the length of a novel to create the sort of character-reader investment that Egan cultivates in the blink of an eye. I feel like this is a book that I could read over and over (and I plan to) and I would still be uncovering new layers and experiencing new feelings after the fifteenth time.

I mean this in all honesty: you are doing yourself a disservice if you hold back from reading this book. Go out and buy it. Now. You'll thank me for the recommendation later.

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