A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

(Alfred A. Knopf, 2010)

A fiction selection by Jean-Louis

My daughter asks, “So what’s the ‘Goon Squad’?” and instead of answering I remain quiet. Egan’s novel is a little bit like this exchange in that many questions are posed but very few answers are forthcoming.

The novel is a rumination on how we communicate, the influence of friends, family, and co-workers, and the ultimate arbiter that is time itself. We follow a diverse cast of characters as they move through stages in their lives and relationships.

Egan’s novel garnered the National Critics Circle award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for this work. Her inquiry into our communication is carried by a through line of rock and roll, and the lifestyles of the rockers and music business folks.

My teenage daughter read the book as soon as I finished it and she devoured it quickly. What she thought of the book remains to be answered — the gap in my knowledge of her experience is utterly appropriate for the novel. I heartily recommend you dive in and find your own way through it.

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