A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

77%

54 Critic Reviews

A Visit From The Goon Squad isn’t the great rock ’n’ roll novel, but the fact that it’s a good one is a small triumph to salve the letdown.
-AV Club

Synopsis

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
National Book Critics Circle Award Winner
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
A New York Times Book Review Best Book

One of the Best Books of the Year: Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR's On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.




From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Jennifer Egan

See more books from this Author
Jennifer Egan is the author of The Keep, Look at Me, The Invisible Circus, and the story collection Emerald City. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, GQ, Zoetrope, All-Story, and Ploughshares, and her nonfiction appears frequently in The New York Times Magazine. She lives with her husband and sons in Brooklyn. Visit the Jennifer Egan's official website: www.jenniferegan.com
 
Published June 3, 2010 by Anchor. 288 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on May 08 2011
icon8
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for A Visit from the Goon Squad
All: 54 | Positive: 46 | Negative: 8

Kirkus

Above average
on Apr 15 2010

...her characters have recognizable emotions and convictions, which is why their compromises and uncertainties continue to move us.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Nov 27 2016

Egan answers the question elegantly, though not straight on, as this powerful novel chronicles how and why we change, even as the song stays the same.

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NY Times

Above average
on Jul 08 2010

Write successfully in the second person? Check. Parody celebrity journalism and David Foster Wallace at the same time? Check.

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NY Times

Good
on Jun 20 2010

...Ms. Egan can be such a piercingly astute storyteller that the exhilaration of reading her outweighs the bleak destinies she describes.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Justine Jordan on Apr 01 2011

...daily life is colourful enough already. A Visit from the Goon Squad is a novel to relish, and Egan is a writer in her prime.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Churchwell on Mar 12 2011

Egan has said that the organising principle of A Visit from the Goon Squad is discontinuity; this may be true, but the reason the book works so well is because of the continuities she has also created...

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Guardian

Excellent
on Apr 02 2011

This is an incredibly affecting novel, sad, funny and wise...

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Guardian

Above average
on Mar 13 2011

Each chapter has its own distinct voice and mood, modulating from satire to farce, from melancholy to tragedy.

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Financial Times

Above average
Reviewed by Ludovic Hunter-Tilney on Mar 21 2011

The characters are less sympathetic than you suspect she intends them to be. Yet A Visit from the Goon Squad remains highly readable.

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Dylan Hicks on Jun 26 2010

It's a winning, adventuresome whole but with some underperforming parts...These complaints come infrequently, however, and recede with the accretion of the book's themes -- the biggest one being no less than time itself.

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Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Ami Sands Brodoff on Jul 16 2010

Many well-crafted novels are dead; many wonderful novels have ragged edges. Remember, novel means new. Though contemporary life can be numbing, Egan's edgy novel is flexible and alive, the perfect antidote.

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Gregg LaGambina on Jul 01 2010

A Visit From The Goon Squad isn’t the great rock ’n’ roll novel, but the fact that it’s a good one is a small triumph to salve the letdown.

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AV Club

Good
on Jul 01 2010

Egan has constructed Goon Squad as a kind of concept album in prose, even splitting the book into parts A and B like the sides of a record. Its 13 chapters work like songs penned in wildly different styles.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
on Jun 09 2010

Egan's expert flaying of human foibles has the compulsive allure of poking at a sore tooth: excruciating but exhilarating, too.

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National Post arts

Good
on Jan 10 2012

A Visit from the Goon Squad gathers a multitude of fantasies into one implacable reality.

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LA Times

Good
on Jun 06 2010

Scattered across time, free of chronology, the stories in the book nevertheless have a careful and deliberate structure.

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The Independent

Below average
Reviewed by Jonathan Gibbs on Apr 07 2011

A Visit from the Goon Squad is seductive, and brilliant, but its fractured surface hides a meticulous organisation. This is a a Fabergé egg of a novel, which isn't meant entirely as praise.

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The Independent

Above average
Reviewed by Christian House on Mar 12 2011

If getting lost is this novel's refrain, Egan occasionally changes the key. In particular, the sparky disconnect between generations is sometimes rewired with brief but joyful connections. This is a book that appears to focus on the deterioration of potential, but it's equally interested in the capacity for regeneration that exists in all of us.

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Huffington Post

Good
on Jun 16 2012

Egan has created a network of characters and places that is both as solid and as open ended as life.

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Dallas News

Below average
on Jun 20 2010

Because Goon Squad skips around so much, it doesn't provide an extended relationship with any one character.

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Pajiba

Good
Reviewed by Amy on Sep 21 2011

This book comes recommended from me, not because it's a Pulitzer, but because it's damn good. If you like music and you like to think about our wired world, this one's for you.

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PopMatters

Good
Reviewed by KIRBY FIELDS on Aug 25 2010

OK. So it’s already been championed. That doesn’t mean I can’t lend my voice to the choir, which, hopefully will continue to grow louder and louder and louder still. A book like this deserves as much volume as we can muster.

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The Uncustomary Book Review

Good
Reviewed by Kat Kiddles on Mar 21 2012

I get a giddy thrill when Mabuhay Gardens gets mentioned in the book. It brings back memories of a much younger me dragging a friend there before it closed to listen to music I was hearing on college radio. She didn’t know what she was in for.

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Independent.ie

Good
Reviewed by Darragh McManus on Mar 26 2011

A Visit from the Goon Squad is a tremendous novel: thoughtful, subtle, funny, wacky, energetic, profoundly authentic. It's not quite Proust, but Jennifer Egan's book is head and shoulders above most of its peers.

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Independent.ie

Excellent
on Mar 26 2011

A Visit from the Goon Squad is a tremendous novel: thoughtful, subtle, funny, wacky, energetic, profoundly authentic.

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Chicago Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Celia McGee on Jul 15 2015

Rather than the knee-jerk genre exercise such efforts often become, though, 'A Visit from the Goon Squad' stands on its own, and we hear it loud and clear.

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Chicago Tribune

Good

...'A Visit from the Goon Squad' stands on its own, and we hear it loud and clear.

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The Millions

Excellent
on Jun 08 2010

Her work is (skillfully, decidedly) equal parts brainy and empathic, hyper-realist and fantastical, gritty and luminous...

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London Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Pankaj Mishra on Mar 31 2011

Egan’s short fiction shows a mastery of elliptical dialogue, the art of impregnating silences with moral unease.

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Oprah.com

Good
Reviewed by Liza Nelson on Jun 01 2010

...Egan constructs a tour de force, telling her story backward, forward, and sideways from chapter to chapter and sometimes switching gears within a chapter. The cast of characters is unforgettable...

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Fiction Writers Review

Good
Reviewed by Jackie Reitzes on Sep 19 2010

Like a concert, a good book can draw you in and sweep you to a different place. And after it’s over, ears ringing, lyrics rolling through your mind on the way home, remembering the way the light poured out over the stage, you can say it—you were there.

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Full Stop

Good
Reviewed by Virginia Smith on Jan 13 2011

...the poignancy and instant gratification of a short story collection, with all the depth of one of the best and most surprising full length novels in recent memory.

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Dominion of New York

Good
on Oct 01 2011

This is a novel much deserving of its Pulitzer. Read this!

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The Express Tribune

Good
Reviewed by NM Khan on Oct 12 2011

...simply put, it's excellently written, it's characters are well-crafted and the shift back and forth...is effortless.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Debby Waldman on Jul 17 2010

The music industry is well known for its fixation on youth (Exhibit A: “Hope I die before I get old”), which makes Egan’s choice of it as a common theme brilliant and risky. Fortunately, she avoid cliché.

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Readings

Excellent
Reviewed by Robbie Egan on Mar 31 2011

Goon Squad ends with a leap into the future, extrapolating from current trends to a world of relentless individual marketing...A Visit From the Goon Squad is easily the best novel I read last year. Read it: it’s a must.

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The Lit B***h

Good
Reviewed by The Lit Bitch on Nov 05 2011

I started reading the book shortly after Wordstock, and it was very clear that I was reading something special and different. The book whole tone of the book is gritty, hard boiled….almost a film noir style book.

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The Mookse and the Gripes

Good
Reviewed by Trevor Berrett on Jul 07 2010

This is an exceptional book that, despite its appearance of flare, should be taken seriously. I hope and expect to see it show up in awards season.

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https://savidgereads.wordpress.com

Below average
on Apr 17 2011

Whilst I can see this books merits and the fact it bucks the trend for being quite innovative I would be lying if I said I was desperate to read a book like this again.

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The Cyberlibrarian Reads

Good
Reviewed by MIRIAM DOWNEY on Sep 21 2010

I went back and made an outline of the book and wrote down the narrator and the characters included in each story and the time frame of the story. Suddenly, the whole thing made sense and became utterly fascinating.

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Entertainment Realm

Good
on Jan 05 2017

Egan writes with impressive attention to detail and possesses the ability to craft a unique, humorous and riveting portrait of two people invested in the challenging and ever-changing music industry. Delve into A Visit from the Goon Squad, the latest novel from a brilliant, observant author.

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The New Canon

Good
Reviewed by Ted Gioia on Nov 27 2015

...A Visit from the Goon Squad is an important work, a crystallization of many of the most provocative developments in contemporary fiction, yet also freshly original in its deviations and digressions. It's worth adding that A Visit from the Goon Squad is also what non-academics call “a good read.”

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Melody & Words

Excellent
Reviewed by MELODY SCHREIBER on Dec 11 2013

It’s a critical darling, the kind of book that gets basically no negative reviews because the people who don’t like it are pretty sure they just don’t understand it. It’s a very confusing, layered, sometimes purposefully obscure book. I was all geared up to hate it. But, begrudgingly, I loved it.

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https://anokatony.wordpress.com

Above average
Reviewed by Anokatony on Jul 15 2010

In my review of ‘”Ether”, I described those stories as edgy. I would characterize the stories in “A Visit from the Goon Squad” as spiky. Don’t ask me what the difference between edgy and spiky is.

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jrforasteros.com

Good
Reviewed by JR. Forasteros on Jun 08 2011

A GREAT STORY WITH GREAT CHARACTERS THAT’LL DEFINITELY REWARD MULTIPLE REREADS. DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND PICK IT UP. ENJOY THE PAUSE EGAN OFFERS.

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https://shereadsnovels.wordpress.com

Below average
Reviewed by Helen on Jul 13 2011

A Visit from the Goon Squad sounded fascinating and I can see why a lot of people would love it – it’s a very unusual book which sparkles with originality and creativity – but it turned out not to be my type of book at all.

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Edinburgh Book Review

Good
Reviewed by Athena on Jan 10 2014

It won the Pulitzer Prize too! So set aside a good few hours with copious amounts of tea, a comfy sofa, and prepare to have your hair blown back.

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The Literary Stew

Good
Reviewed by Astrid on Jun 20 2011

Egan's prose flows like music and before you know it you've finished a chapter and are on to the next. As you move forward in the book, a theme becomes apparent - the passage of time. "Time's a goon right?" A Visit from the Goon Squad is not just innovative, it's surprisingly entertaining.

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Backlisted

Above average
Reviewed by Backlisted on Jun 18 2011

Technically, A Visit from the Goon Squad overcomes the most casual descriptors: linked short narratives that stand alone, yet merge together effortlessly; post-modern embellishments, such as an entire chapter of PowerPoint slides, that add emotional resonance to everything that’s come before...

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https://bookmonkeyscribbles.wordpress.com

Good
on May 19 2011

...Egan’s managed to balance the two brilliantly, leaving us in awe of her talent, and envying her creativity. I only wonder how Egan will be able to follow this with her next book, but either way I know I will definitely be excited to read more of her work.

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https://abookadaytillicanstay.wordpress.com

Good
on Mar 29 2012

This is a brilliantly written book and Egan is to be praised for not indulging in po-faced musings on mortality. Sadness and joy ebbs and flows from page to page.

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The Culture Mom

Above average
Reviewed by The Culture Mom on Jul 24 2011

All in all, I enjoyed the book and definitely was eager to pick up on our many train journeys and plane rides. I would have liked more of the book focused on Sasha. I really enjoyed the chapters that related to her much more than the ones that related to the egotistical Bennie.

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https://hungrylikethewoolf.wordpress.com

Good
on Mar 15 2011

I was impressed. Egan will doubtless become a reliable author for me, someone I can look forward to without fear of disappointment.

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https://theliteraryomnivore.wordpress.com

Above average
Reviewed by Clare on Dec 26 2011

Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad might be called a novel, but it’s functionally a short story collection—an incredibly dark short story collection that presents aging in the digital era as an unfathomable horror...If you’re interested, give it a shot, but I wouldn’t go out of your way.

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