A Visit from the Goon Squad (英語) ペーパーバック – 2011/7/1
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Jennifer Egan's spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist's couch in New York City, confronting her longstanding compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life-divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed up band in the basement of a suburban house-and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco's punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang-who thrived and who faltered-and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie's catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou's far flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall. A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to Powerpoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both-and escape the merciless progress of time-in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.
A must read. Irresistible. Fiction of the highest quality. Sunday Times. It may be the smartest book you can get your hands on this summer. Los Angeles Times Exhilirating...arresting...brilliant. Turn up the music...and curl up with The Goon Squad. Washington Post A great work of fiction, a profound and glorious exploration of the fullness and complexity of the human condition... An extraordinary new work of fiction. The New York Press Egan's precise, calm underwater prose is a persistent pleasure. Daily Telegraph. A delight. The Observer. A Visit from the Goon Squad [is] an exhilarating, big-hearted, three-headed beast of a story... [A] genius as a writer... We see ourselves in all of Egan's characters because their stories of heartbreak and redemption seem so real they could be our own, regardless of the soundtrack. Such is the stuff great novels are made of. Marie-Claire Clever. Edgy. Groundbreaking... It features characters about whom you come to care deeply as you watch them doing things they shouldn't, acting gloriously, infuriatingly human. The Chicago Tribune A rich and rewarding novel. Philadelphia Inquierer "[Egan is] a boldly intellectual writer who is not afraid to apply her equally powerful intuitive skills to her ambitious projects... While it's a time-trekking, tech-freakin' doozie, the characters' lives and fates claim the story first and foremost, and we are pulled right in... Brilliantly structured, with storylike chapters." Elle Jennifer Egan is a rare bird: an experimental writer with a deep commitment to character, whose fiction is at once intellectually stimulating and moving... It's a tricky book, but in the best way. When I got to the end, I wanted to start from the top again immediately, both to revisit the characters and to understand better how the pieces fit together. Like a masterful album, this one demands a replay. The San Francisco Chronicle The star-crossed marriage of lucid prose and expertly deployed postmodern switcheroos that helped shoot Egan to the top of the genre bending new school is alive and well in this graceful yet wild novel ... powerful. Publishers Weekly (starred review) Sparkling. The Guardian Egan is a writer of cunning subtlety, embedding within the risky endeavors of seductively complicated characters a curious bending of time ... a hilarious melancholy, enrapturing, unnerving, and piercingly beautiful mosaic of a novel. -- Donna Seaman Booklist (starred review) Poetry and pathos ... Egan conveys personality so swiftly and with such empathy... Yet she is not a conventional dystopian novelist; distinctions between the virtual and the real may be breaking down in this world, but her characters have recognizable emotions and convictions, which is why their compromises and uncertainties continue to move us... Another ambitious change of pace from talented and visionary Egan, who reinvents the novel for the 21st century while affirming its historic values. Kirkus Review (starred review) For all its postmodern flourishes, Goon Squad is as traditional as a Dickens novel... Her aim is not so much to explode traditional storytelling as to explore how it responds to the pressures and opportunities of the digital age. Egan herself does not appear to be on Facebook, but A Visit From the Goon Squad will likely make her many new friends. Newsweek A stunningly resourceful writer Guardian Egan's a daunting stylist, and she's in blistering form for these interlocking narratives about the milieu surrounding an aging and waning music producer. Essentially, it's a story about getting mugged by the passage of time, and along the way she interrogates how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, and lifelong friendships fluctuate. You also might know this as the novel that has a chapter written in PowerPoint. Egan: unpredictable and, here, brilliant. Publisher's Weekly Books of the Year. Thriftily evokes many disparate American lives in less than 300 pages, vividly showing how the virtues of the realist tradition - historical depth and strong point of view - can be combined with a modernist aesthetic of fragmentation and dissolution. -- Pankaj Mishra Guardian商品の説明をすべて表示する
Amazon.com で最も参考になったカスタマーレビュー (beta) （「Early Reviewer Program」のレビューが含まれている場合があります）
Maybe it was my state of mind, I don't know, but there was not one emotional punch that landed with me. The characters were cleverly constructed, with lots of smart dialogue and angst-ridden plot points, but I was not moved by a one. And, frankly, even after repeatedly checking the book description to remind myself of who characters were and what they were supposed to be doing, their outlines somehow kept disappearing in the meandering narrative. I couldn't keep them straight, and their vignettes and individual chapters (often with bouncing time-lines and seemingly little connection) were indistinct and, for me, ultimately forgettable.
At times I felt the writer was working too hard to be clever: the Power Point display towards the top of the third act (or maybe the third of four acts?) was likely meant to convey some sort of meaning, but on an e-reader it was illegible and though a weblink was offered, even that suggestion was emblematic of the problem: the device took me out of the story; it was pages and pages and pages, and had I actually left my book to go look at this on a website, I'd've LITERALLY been taken out of the story! As it was, I skipped ahead, just wanting to grab onto some thread that kept me as connected as possible to the difficult-to-follow narrative.
For me it never got there. There were some interesting, well written sections, but it wasn't cohesive enough to really impel this reader forward to find out what was going to happen. I did get to the end...and then...it was over. That was about it. It left no mark.
All art is subjective, I understand that, and clearly this is a case where my perspective is somewhat out-of-sync: Egan has won enough awards for this book, including the Pulitzer Prize, to make clear that whatever has eluded me was less of a problem for others! So be it. She is a skilled writer, with a mastery of language, and this may just be one piece of her work that did not resonate. Perhaps another of her books will.
Case in point is this 2011 Pulitzer winner. Interesting, amusing, but in a flat way. No really interesting people in it. No really great language either. Hardly a novel, more like stories linked by their cast. Some in NY, some post 9-11, some elsewhere at other times, some in different styles. The main characters of each story appear as supporting cast in other chapters. Good overall plotting can't replace interesting contents though. This is competent but meaningless. While one might enjoy reading it, one will surely not remember a word of it next year. And the stories, even if they deal with tragic things, they are still fluff.
But if I don't read it, how do I know it is fluff? The book has just been published in Germany and has received a rave review from Die Zeit. Hm.
What is it about? Mostly about pop music and pop musicians, and the related subculture.
We learn about a kleptomaniac, her shrink sessions, and a particular adventure when her one night stand inadvertently nearly makes her get caught for lifting a wallet from a woman in the ladies' washroom.
Or about a manager of a record label who suffers from a loss of sex drive, who wonders if that loss is not a good thing. He also has a need to divulge, and a penchant for betrayal bonding when out with his son.
Or about a punk band in SF in the late 70s, groupies included. The usual about drugs and teenage sex and so on.
About an LA record producer on safari in Africa with kids and girlfriend. The usual about messy families. Kids grow up, they fail or succeed, they kill themselves or become addicts or both, they visit their dying elders in hospital or not...
Or about a PR agent who represents a foreign dictator, trying to brighten his image, but her plans seem to take a bad turn.
Or about a celebrity reporter who is overwhelmed by his attractive interviewee and tries to rape her.
And some more.
And then the insult of chapter 12: it is told in PowerPoint charts. I refuse to read this as a matter of principle. I have to use this silly software all the time. I do think, actually, that it makes us stupider by making work easier.
The first really interesting chapter comes half into the novel, the 7th of 13, when the not quite convincingly Caucasian record label manager moves to an upper class NY suburb and gets implicitly suspected as terror network operative. Is that enough for raving? Maybe for a move from 3 to 4 stars. There are other post 9-11 observations strewn over various chapters, which do add some substance to pure pop. I get the impression that this is a smart writer who could have done better. Not a stupid book, but a limited choice of subject. And I will not need a whole year to forget it.
3 and a half stars.
Unlike Cloud Atlas, the characters in the stories in A Visit from the Goon Squad are consistent and closely related, the stories therefore being more easily followed and the transitions smoother. The stories are intriguing and captivating. This is a far better reading experience than Cloud Atlas.
Nevertheless, leaving and returning to a variety of characters, at points in the past and in the future, in no particular order, has the potential for confusion and periods of reacclimation. Such was the case here, at times, though not to the extent of seriously affecting the reading experience. Having said that, I read the entire book in only three or four days. Stretching the book out over a period of weeks could result in the potential for becoming lost or losing track of the characters. Despite being listed as having 342 pages, roughly 50 are consumed with a rather silly stretch of "powerpoint slides". The book can be easily consumed in 4-5 hours.
It is telling that Sasha and Bennie become more compelling as we learn about them from others; the chapters explicitly about them turn out to reveal quite narrow self-regard. Indeed, we meet Sasha in her shrink's office talking about her predilection for petty theft. And the epigraph from Proust warns us to keep an eye out for this sort of thing.
Time is a central theme here, as we are also warned in the epigraph, and the timeline extends from our initial meetings into the past and the future. Music, authenticity and growing old are others. But the rewards of this book, such as they are, come from allowing Sasha and Bennie to be redeemed by a much wider perspective than what they are able to form of themselves. Egan reminds us that our lives are likely to mean more in the aggregate than in the moment.