Saturday, 19 March 2011

a visit from the goon squad

a visit from the goon squad
I first read something by Jennifer Egan in a magazine. I liked the rhythm and humour of the piece and subsequently googled to see if she’d written anything more.

It turned out there was a novel set in the same genre, which I recently enjoyed and appears to now be getting some press coverage. It’s called “A Visit From the Goon Squad” and is a kind of mashup of stories and lives, loosely around the music industry.

The structure is charmingly bonkers, with what could be a series of separate short stories that somehow interlink to create a mood and a lifestyle.

I can relate to the idea of creating characters, placing them and then letting them run wild, to see what they’d do and how they impact one another. Its best to go with the flow in the early part and let the storylines gradually converge like reassembling a cut-up.

I like to think that even the book’s binding gives some of this away, with that uncut rough edged look to the pages. It might be simply that I’ve got a rogue copy, but I suspect not.

And the story telling has a sort of continuity in amongst the multiplicity of points of views and huge gaps in time between characters and events. Artfully done by drifting from one character to another across the chapters.

I won’t describe the woven storyline here. It’s amoral West Coast American punk-rock meets East Coast business, vectoring into deserts, war-zones and a post iPod accelerated generation.

Its funny, edgy and despite the shapeshifting, there’s a heart.

Oh, and a chapter in PowerPoint.

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