My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A talented artist can paint a picture that evokes an emotion. The viewer looks at the painting and feels nothing but what the artist strives to communicate. The viewer doesn’t notice the brushstrokes, the colors, or any of the physical aspects of the painting — only the essense of the painting. Jennifer Egan is the artist and A Visit From the Goon Squad is the painting.
You know how sometimes you’ll notice something, like the shoes a stranger is wearing, or a purse across the room and it’ll remind you of something and you’ll end up staring into space, lost in that memory? A Visit From the Goon Squad is kind of like that. The funny thing is, I’ve never worn safety pins in my clothes, I’ve never had some 40 year old guy do coke off my bare butt, and I’ve never dived into a polluted river, but A Visit From the Goon Squad made me nostalgic for those events.
A Visit From the Goon Squad is hard to describe as a book. It’s narrative fiction, but it’s not just one story and it’s not only a collection of short stories. It’s a collection of short stories connected through some shared characters and a strong central theme that I didn’t really understand until halfway through the book. It’s not preachy, it’s not too-hip-for-thou, and it’s not difficult to read. It’s wonderfuly written with amazingly seemless transitions between the past and the present.
I can see it as a book that won’t appeal to everyone. I had doubts about liking it because of its title and cover (I know, I know), but even I have to admit that it’s one of the best written books I’ve read.