Book Review | A Visit From the Goon Squad

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know I’ve been listening to the audiobook version of this book. I became a huge fan of Audible.com when I started a job with an hour plus commute, and went in search of a way to use that time productively. I haven’t listened to many books lately because I’m home most of the time, but I had a pretty good collection, so I thought I’d get back into them. I’ve found that I really love listening while knitting or playing bubble shooter (which is how I listened to the majority of A Visit from the Goon Squad).

Back in 2011, I remember walking past a huge display of this book in the Borders in downtown Boston. I picked it up, read the back cover, and put it back. I’m pretty sure I bought Tina Fey’s Bossypants instead. A Visit from the Goon Squad just didn’t really seem like my thing. At the time, I was a twenty-two year old history student looking for an easy read to break up all the dry assigned reading.

a vist from the goon squadNow I’m getting my masters in English. And I’ve become increasingly interested in book prizes and the books that win them. Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad won the Pulitzer in 2011. When I saw it in a recent 3-for-2 sale on Audible, I picked it up.

Let me start out by saying this is a weird book. I think it took me two full chapters to even understand what was going on. Somewhere in the middle of the book, I Googled reviews, and discovered (before it was revealed in the book), that – SPOILER ALERT – the goon is time. The book is about how time affects people’s lives, told through the various stories of several vaguely connected characters. It’s an interesting idea, but I’m still not sold on the results.

Here’s where I got kind of iffy on this book. The stories, to me, seemed both boring and contrived. The floral writing seemed strange juxtaposed against the rock and roll theme. And honestly, there were maybe two characters I actually cared about.  I wasn’t overly impressed.

I will say this, though: I thought the Powerpoint chapter (that’s right, Egan wrote an entire chapter in Powerpoint – I read it as a PDF), was going to be a total fail. But it actually kind of worked. I just though it maybe went on a bit too long; I started to get bored/annoyed by the end of it. Which I can also say about the book as a whole.  By the last two chapters, I had the thing on 3x speed just so I could finish it faster.

I wouldn’t say I hated it – it had it’s good moments – but this is definitely not a favorite.

Rating: ★★★✩✩

Have you read A Visit from the Goon Squad? What did you think?

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