If you’ve ever taken pen to paper, you’ll know that writing a good story is extremely hard work. This being true, crafting 13 separate tales with vast stylistic differences and unconnected narratives, and managing to weave them all together into a effective whole—not simply coherent but creating through them a world that’s intricate, vibrantly alive and deeply funny—can be regarded as nothing less than a masterpiece. Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad is just that; a witty, powerful work following the lives of a varied array of characters, roughly centred around Bennie Salazar, who is (when we first meet him) the bass player and manager for the San Fransisco punk band ‘the Flaming Dildos’.
The chapters, which could easily pass as stand-alone stories, vary widely in style easy reach. And that’s why I love and content—represented amongst them are the There’s something for everyone. struggles of a jealous young lover, written entirely in the second person, a therapist’s appointment with a kleptomaniac, a rock concert in a dystopian New York Unity.
City and a celebrity column detailing the columnist’s attempted rape of a young actress, written in a polished imitation of David Foster Wallace. Throughout the novel, Egan shines for her versatility, it taking a prodigious talent to give such justice to these diverse styles.
Beyond this, there’s another thing deserving special mention. This book contains the most emotionally powerful and structurally brilliant powerpoint presentation I have ever seen. It’s been hailed as revolutionary, a stunning subversion of traditional literary style. That description is accurate, every gram of its thunderous praise earned. A Visit From the Goon Squad is a fantastic, engaging read, and well deserv*es the Pulitzer Prize it won. Highly recommended.