Continuing my attempt to read all of the books on Literary Hub’s Top Twenty Novels of the 2010s, I have now just finished Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad which, apart from its dazzling brilliance, is about as far from my last read as its possible to go.
Goon Squad is a very modern novel. It is written as thirteen unattached but inter-related stories with timelines that go back and forth to the 1970s and forward to the near future (i.e, about now as the book was published in 2010). There are few if any direct narrative connections between the stories.
The stories are about parts of the lives of Bennie Salazar, an ageing record producer, Sasha his long-time assistant, and various children, friends and acquaintances of theirs. Set mostly in New York City, there are also sections in San Francisco, Kenya, and Naples. The background is the music business and that plays an important though only supporting role.
Goon Squad is a treasure trove of technical virtuosity, shape shifting and mind bending. But it is also filled to the brim with empathy and understanding of the various human conditions that affect so many of us. I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.