Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Review: A Visit from the Goon Squad

More of a literary collage than a straightforward novel, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad is likely to resonate with those with a penchant for the experimental. The writing style, voice, characters, times, places, and even layout (one chapter is presented as a series of PowerPoint-like slides in landscape orientation) shift and pitch with all the fervency of a dropped flyer on a busy Chicago street. It’s a cluttered, crowded, and sometimes disorienting journey, lacquered in a dubiously purposeful aimlessness that remains largely unresolved by the book’s end. (An appropriate sentiment, perhaps, given that one of the novel’s central themes is the ambivalent and unstoppable passage of time.) Fortunately, there is beauty to be found in Egan’s writing, even if it is often hidden beneath pages and pages (and pages and pages) of noise. Put briefly, Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad is a work littered with creativity—a claim that speaks more to the book’s detriment than to its success.

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