Jennifer Egan's several novels and collections of short stories have always been well received, and this book will be no exception. It is a novel, but each chapter holds it own. Like a devious love child of Colum McCann and Bret Easton Ellis, the whole fabric of these characters' lives slides together piece by ugly piece. Egan is a little less heart-wrenching than McCann and a little more moralistic than Ellis, but the total package here is one that will delight many kinds of readers.
The strange treat in this postmodern ensemble is newcomer narrator Roxana Ortega. A veteran of the soap opera scene, occasional improv comic, and supporting actress in films like Miss Congeniality 2, Ortega brings a surprisingly bold and wonderfully solid set of voices to Egan's cast of haunted characters. She begins all breathy and languid with Sasha, the eternally distant and bored kleptomaniac, but then draws listeners closer and closer, starting with the forlorn but gruff Bennie, once a handsome punk rocker and now an aging exec trying to stay on top of the scene. The most delightful segment is Ortega's deftly poetic rendering of little Alison's diary, which in the novel appears as a PowerPoint presentation.
Here's the thing about punk rock: there is always some kind of adventure around the next corner, until one day you wake up old, cold, and sold. This novel contains a lion trying to rip someone's face off, an autistic boy who collects songs that have moments of silence in them, a genocidal dictator taking photos with a burnt-out actress, a bag full of East River fish juice, a couple of wicked awesome lap steel and slide guitar solos, and a truckload of smartphone devices. As time marches forward, backward, and sideways in Egan's portrait of a once-cool music empire now dwarfed by modern technology and fading fast, Ortega gracefully jumps from generation to generation, wondering what went wrong for these people and try to help them get it back. Megan Volpert
Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2011
National Book Critics Circle Award, Fiction, 2011
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction!
Jennifer Egan brings her unique gifts as a novelist and short story writer to a compulsively listenable narrative that centers on Bennie Salazar, an aging punk rocker and record executive, and the beautiful Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs.
Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, but the listener does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other people whose paths intersect with theirs in the course of nearly 50 years, in settings as various as the San Francisco 1970s music scene; the demimonde of Naples; New York at many points, from the pre-internet 90s to a postwar future; and a catastrophic safari in the heart of Africa.
A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about time, about survival, about our private terrors and how we overcome them or don't, and what happens when we fail to rebound. Brilliant, sly, suspenseful, and always surprising - one of our boldest authors at the height of her powers.
©2010 Jennifer Egan. All rights reserved. (P)2010 BBC Audiobooks America
"Readers will be pleased to discover that 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 in well in this graceful yet wild novel." (Publishers Weekly)
“Pitch perfect. . . . Darkly, rippingly funny. . . . Egan possesses a satirist’s eye and a romance novelist’s heart.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“A new classic of American fiction.” (Time)
I came to this book not knowing what to expect. The story itself is a series of complex intertwined pieces spanning around 50 years, encountering some of the same characters at different stages of their lives. Jennifer Egan has a wonderful turn of phrase and the stories have stuck with me after I finished the book.
The reader of the audiobook, Roxana Ortega, manages to convey all the different characters with subtlety and depth. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and I set a pretty high bar for narrators, especially when it comes to "character" voices. This was brilliant.
LuLu both as a child and an adult. Especially as an adult working in marketing, she had a way to explain away any ethical dilema.
The description of the powerpoint graphs was terrible! I sure wish that part of the audio book had been left out.
I think the narrator was the biggest drawback for this book. The storyline was solid and interesting, but I found myself not liking it. It was read in a stoic, gloomy, sometimes haunting voice that I feel did not fit the story. There were many honestly comic and whimsical situations where the narrator could not change vocal emotion to bring out the feeling.
Iliked the narration the best.
It is interesting to see what people who live only for the culture of this world look like.
Her characterization with voice, amazing
This is definitely not my life or way of living. There is zero spirituality for any of the characters. It is interesting but empty and sad.
Loved it--I couldn't wait to get back in the car for my 3,000-mile road-trip each day so that I could continue to listen to this magnificent book. Compelling, amazing characters, interesting plot, insights into the psyche--it's all there!
It was very surprising to me. I have to admit that I stopped it about 30 minutes into it, and didn't pick it back up for about three months. I found it strange at first, all the different characters. Then I found myself really getting into the audio and I couldn't put it down. My advice to anyone is stick with it, because once it was over... I was like "This seriously is one of the best books I've experienced!" I actually want to buy the hard copy and read it myself.
Wow, there really are a lot of memorable moments, but for me... I couldn't help but fall in love with Rob Freeman. As screwed up as Bennie and Sasha are, I loved their characters too.
I thought she did a good job.
The most memorable is of course Bennie Salazar and then Sasha. Mainly because every story involves them in some way. Even if they are not in that story.
I really liked La Doll and I felt sorry for her. It is like I said earlier though, Rob was my favorite. You know in the beginning something is going to happen to him, but until Jennifer Egan leads you to his story, you haven't a clue what's really going to happen, and then when you find out... it is overwhelming how much love you wind up finding yourself have for this young man. Also, if you find yourself thinking, I am confused and I don't want to listen anymore. Please listen! The reason is... I thought Jennifer Egan did a great job of tying everything together at the end.
rarely do I not finish a book, but I couldn't get interested in the characters and
Friends say I have a twisted sense of humor and this book fits the bill!
I didn't like the characters at the start of this story, but it's worth sticking with the book as the characters change with each chapter. The author builds on earlier chapters, introducing new characters related in fascinating ways to earlier characters. I enjoy the side-tracks the author takes in various places, seemingly going off track. There are many astute observations of human nature in this book. It's not a 5-star book on my list because I thought the wrap up/ending seemed contrived.
Business Physicist and Astronomer
I enjoyed the first half of this book very much. The next 1/4 was a little tedious and the final 1/4th unbearable. The book runs out of gas just doesn't go forward with any torque or strength after the mid point.
That said, it's an interesting approach but I can't recommend it as worth the time.
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