Short review – A Visit From the Goon Squad

It’s a great read, and Jennifer Egan does a ‘Pulp Fiction’-esque take on her story – it details the convoluted lives of a female kleptomaniac and her ‘rags-ro-riches-rags’ record owner boss.

The march of time, relentless and cruel, underpins this story about wantonness, hedonism, aimlessness, and redemption of sorts for its main protagonists.

Reaching as far back as the drug-addled ’60s and punk-rock ’70s to present-day New York, the story revolves around Sasha, personal secretary to Bennie Salazar, owner of Sows Ears record, a label built on the success of its early musical discoveries. Sasha has a chequered past, and she met Bennie while still student at NYU. Bennie decides to hire her an an intern, and that’s where their stories unfold.

Intertwined with Sasha’s and Bennie’s tales are flashbacks to the people who passed through their lives, either temporarily or permanently, each one leaving an impression on the central characters, or ending up being altered by them. The book also pays tributes to the musical history of American and British music, with subtle artistic references scattered throughout the book.

Time is the constant here, and Time is a ‘goon’, as one of the characters calls it. It creeps up on you when you’re busily focused on other things in your life. All the characters wind up in a different place, physically, psychologically and emotionally, not necessarily better off than before.

Egan does a beautiful job of teasing out what’s really important in life, and reminding us to be thankful for little mercies each and every day.

If you’ve not read a ‘pop culture’ for a while (or at all), do pick this one up. It’ll leave an indelible mark on your senses, and I mean that in a good way 🙂

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