If there’s one personal preference that’s been consistent for the bulk of my life, it’s my love of short story cycle-style linked-not-a-novel-but-not-just-a-collection books. Winesburg Ohio, Dubliners, Martian Chronicles, Revenge, Cloud Atlas: jam a bunch of vaguely connected short stories together and I’m game.
Which is not really what I was expecting from A Visit from the Goon Squad. I don’t know why–I’d just assumed this was a linear novel. My confusion is surprising looking over reviews, because clearly people were bothered by the structure of it, some even being annoyed by for some reason, so you’d think even a lazy amount of research would have led me to this.
As is often the case with these types of books, I enjoyed some parts more than others. Some of the experimental sections, like the second person “Out of Body” didn’t work for me, nor did the Powerpoint presentation in “Great Rock and Roll Pauses by Alison Blake,” but that was partially because it was unreadable on Kindle. I am always conceptually invested in the experimental parts, and Egan succeeded for me more than she failed.
This is the type of book that makes me want to write a book–these interconnected stories that feel so manageable to write, but like a puzzle to assemble together are what I’ve tried (and failed) to assemble myself. What’s remarkable about this one is the amount of feeling packed inside the puzzle. It’s not often you get both as a reader, but Egan’s adaptability across genres and styles really helps.
Some lines I highlighted:
By the time I walk back to the table I’ve got eyes blinking all over my head, seeing everything in the restaurant at once.
Time’s a goon, right? Isn’t that the expression?
[read: April, 2018]