A Visit from the Goon Squad

It’s won major prizes. Critics have salivated over it, and so have book bloggers. So picking up this book from the library… oh the anticipation! The wait to reach No. 1 on the hold list (the wait is probably a lot longer now that it won the Pulitzer), the glee at seeing that turquoise-blue colour with a printout that has my name on it (it’s all mine! For 3 weeks at least)… so why has it taken me so long to write about it? I could use the usual excuse but really it’s not that. I think it’s because of all that buzz, all those prizes. I was expecting, demanding, even, to be floored. And I wasn’t quite.

I’m trying to recall the storyline right now, and erm, I can’t quite. You might say, maybe it’s the sleep deprivation! But I can recall quite a bit of Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists, which I had read earlier than this, so nope. Browsing through other GoodReaders’ thoughts on the book, I get glimpses of the storyline. Ah yes, it opens with Sasha, the kleptomaniac. That much I remember. And something about Bennie, and a teenage punk band, and a guy with a fish. Then something about a walk in the desert and solar panels. And a bath tub in an apartment. And an amazing concert that blew everyone away, and parrots. So many missing pieces! It’s like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle without any idea of what the full picture is. I wish I could say more about the plot, but you’ve probably read all about it, wherever you turned. Did all the hype overdo it for me? Perhaps. I couldn’t disregard it, I couldn’t put that anticipation out of my mind. Because this book really just sounds so me. I love music. Rock, indie, that’s my thing (I was the kind of person who had to delete mp3s from my iPod because there was no more space. I even went to Sydney just to see Radiohead in concert). And this book just pulsates with music. I should love it, shouldn’t I? But I got tangled up in the chapters meandering among characters, voice, time and place. I enjoyed reading the chapters individually, there is no doubt that Egan has that touch. Not too pushy, not too subtle. Quite effortless. But today I can’t quite seem to pull the threads together. I don’t know… was it just too fast-paced and modern for my addled mind? Perhaps some day, many days, weeks, months, years even, down the road, I will pick this up again and I will understand why everyone seems to love it. But for now, it wasn’t really for me. So I’m going to have to say: Read it? Maybe.

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6 thoughts on “A Visit from the Goon Squad

  1. This is probably my next undertaking for my Tournament of Books challenge. I’m looking forward to trying it, but the hype is a dangerous thing. And, quite honestly, I’m not sure there’s any way it’ll live up to my profound love for The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

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  2. Solar panels? I can’t remember that part! ::laughs:: But the other parts you’ve mentioned do bring elements of it back for me. It is a hard one to pull together though, and I couldn’t find anything to say about it after I’d returned my copy to the library either (partly because I wasn’t taking notes and partly because I wasn’t thinking much either ::grin::). But it’s worth a re-read for me…although I DO want to read Rachman’s book too…so perhaps I should make time for that one first!

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    1. Yeah it’s funny the things I remember about that book. I think sometime down the road that I might reread this one as my previous Egan read – s The Keep – is still firmly stuck in my mind. Goon Squad of course is a very different book, so we’ll see.

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