Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Goon Squad

Oddly, even though one little one is in school, we've been busier than we were during the summer. I think it must be that running around with one little one is less daunting than running around with two.

That and the weather has improved so we aren't hiding in the house fearing immediate combustion upon entrance to the 100+ degree weather.

Of course, interesting things happen inside:

When not playing with little dude, I'm reading Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. It has won all sorts of awards and Ms. Egan was listed as one of The New Yorker's top young writers under 40, so it's my type of book.

I tend to filter my reading material through a small, narrow field that usually centers around one of the following: Booker Prize winner or nominee (I just finished The Finkler Question, the most recent Booker Prize winner, and I was reading The Sea on my Kindle before I picked up Goon Squad. I first became aware of the Booker Prize in college with my infatuation of A. S. Byatt), a favorable review in The Times or The New Yorker, literary buzz, and that intangible "Oh, that sounds like an interesting story", which differs from person to person and from book to book.

The Goon Squad is a series of interconnected vignettes. In fact, each chapter comprises a near complete short story, so much that as I was reading the book, several chapters felt so familiar that it occurred to me that I had probably read them as short stories in The New Yorker. This also happened to me with Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. That creates quite a deja vu reading experience.

The interconnectedness - so far, since I haven't finished the book - doesn't recall experiences like the movie Crash, where everything is mysteriously connected to one greater end. Instead, it follows different periods of time of different people who were connected at one point: groupies of a garage band in their teens, the assistant of the grown-up band member, a family trip of the record producer who befriended the band members.

The short story aspect is really intriguing, and as the book progresses, the author starts to take a few more liberties with her style, including adding footnotes (this must be a modern thing, since I just encountered this for the first time in a novel in Junot Diaz's The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), and making the voice changes much more prominent.

But when my husband asked what the book was about, I couldn't quite say since there isn't necessarily a linear story. I'll follow up on that when I finish the book.

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