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
The back cover of the book does a pretty apt job explaining it: it's about aging punk rock record executive Bennie and his younger troubled assistant, Sasha. It's indirectly about them, at least. After starting off with stories focused on Bennie and Sasha as the main characters, the other stories are about people who knew them throughout their lives. Bennie and Sasha serve as the connecting thread that binds everyone together.
This kind of narrative is gutsy because you have to make sure a) each story is interesting in its own right while b) holding the reader's attention with so many different characters and c) maintaining enough of a connection to the central characters that it doesn't feel random.
Here, Egan succeeds on all fronts. With captivating characters and intellectually stimulating prose, she kept me fully engaged and eager to read each succeeding story. She even plays around with form in an exhilarating way; one story (one of my favorites) is told as a sort of PowerPoint presentation from the perspective of a young girl.
I enjoyed this book immensely in spite of not connecting with it emotionally as much as I did intellectually.
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.