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Time Is a Goon: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

The main character is a young woman called Sasha who we learn early on is a kleptomaniac as she discusses her problem with a therapist. Each chapter is narrated from a different person’s perspective and leads the reader to think about the relationship of each character to the ones in previous chapters. As the book continues it builds up a mesh of interconnected lives spanning the decades.

Bosco’s publicist is Stephanie, wife to Bennie Salazar, a famous and successful record producer. Bennie is the boss to Sasha, the subject of the introductory story, “Found Objects,” first published in The New Yorker in 2008. Sasha is sort of the central characters haunts each subsequent story (or chapter): a ghost of time past, present, and future. There are whole host of characters who are musicians, image consultant to a genocide dictator, mostly forgettable.

I managed to follow Sasha’s story at the beginning of the chapter and the powerpoint slides of Sasha’s daughter at the end. I found the idea of measuring pause on songs intriguing and applaud at the effort of actually drawing a chart to that.

Besides that I just find everything to be very pop-culturish and pointless. The book may appeal to some, but it didn’t work for me. Pulitzer Prize winners didn’t seem to work with me at all since Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. I have nothing much to say about the book so I guess I better not say anything more, but here’s my rating, which may says it all.

Rating:  Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do.

p/s: I didn’t read it, I skimmed it.

Other reviews about the book:

Jackie @ Farmlane Books: There was no real message behind the book and so I didn’t think the effort was worth it.

Graham @ My book yearA Visit from the Goon Squad is witty and ironic, and terribly up with the Zeitgeist, but it is also full of compassion for its characters.

Savidge Read: made me wonder if this an author who is genuinely following her creative path or doing something much more calculated and planned? I am hoping it’s the first of the two options and that maybe I am just missing out on the Goon Party and simply don’t get it.

Discriminating Taste:  Egan is, in my opinion, a hip and accessible literary genius in plain clothes. Her books are thought-provoking and innovative when it comes to the power of fiction and imagination

Winner of 2011 Pulitzer Prize
Longlisted for 2011 Orange Prize
Winner of 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award

Read this for Magic Lasso’s Orange July challenge.

Paperback. Publisher: Coirsair 2011; Length: 336 pages;  Setting: Contemporary USA.  Source: Reading Battle Library loan. Finished reading / skimming on: 7th July 2011.

About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


25 thoughts on “Time Is a Goon: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

  1. Somehow, the idea of this book intrigues me, but I have the feeling I wouldn’t enjoy it either. I’m still tempted to give it a try, just to see for myself. With that rating, I was surprised you got to the end, but then you wrote that you skimmed it. Yeah, not surprising!

    Posted by Leeswammes | July 24, 2011, 4:51 pm
    • Judith,
      That’s what it is, the mere idea of it intrigues but it doesn’t deliver the impact. I was reading tentatively at least for the first 2 chapters after that I’m as fickle as the author I got distracted by the host of characters and incoherent dialogues bouncing back and forth. 😦

      Posted by JoV | July 24, 2011, 5:18 pm
  2. Thanks for this review. I was initially interested in this book but was put off by some reviews I’ve read. Your review seems to have sealed its fate – not to be read by me. I often feel “guilty” as I mainly read crime fiction these days, but where is the really effective literary fiction to be found (ie that is not striving for effect or bandwaggony). I always read the shortlist for the Booker prize each year, but in the end gave up, screaming.

    Posted by Maxine | July 24, 2011, 6:18 pm
    • Maxine,
      I am about reading Man Booker Prize shortlist and in fact I only read the winners. Even that I ended up SCREAMING for distasteful books that ended up being the Man Booker Prize winner!!! So I wouldn’t blame you if you decide to read only Crime Fiction, I think they are thrilling, cut to the chase and gratifying! 😉 Thanks for dropping by.

      Posted by JoV | July 24, 2011, 6:29 pm
      • What interests me about crime fiction is not the act of the crime itself, so for me I hate all those books about serial killers, inventive torture and death, and autopsies, etc, but rather the effects of a crime (or perturbation) on other people. Also I like details of eg police procedurals, to see if I can work out the clues before they do. But mainly, I like the “psychological” stuff.
        Thanks for dropping by at my blog just now 😉

        Posted by Maxine | July 24, 2011, 6:58 pm
        • Maxine,
          I’m with you on this, that’s why I found “Sister” by Rosamund Lipton so powerful. I hope by reading your reviews I could suss out which are more “psychological”! 😉

          Posted by JoV | July 26, 2011, 7:29 am
  3. Well we certainly disagreed on this one! I really enjoyed Goon Squad – the structure of linking the character in each chapter to the next one worked well for me. I was also surprised at how well the slideshow chapter worked.

    Posted by Graham | July 24, 2011, 8:07 pm
    • Graham,
      I agree with you on the slideshow but not with the rest of the book. It’s meh and irritating for me. If it is not because of all the reviews out there I would have bin it (back to the library of course, wouldn’t think of buying it!)

      Posted by JoV | July 26, 2011, 7:31 am
  4. I got this from the library and didn’t even want to proceed from the blurb! LOL Thank you so much for this review because I trust your analysis and feel way better now!

    Posted by rhapsodyinbooks | July 25, 2011, 12:24 am
  5. I gave up on the book after two chapters. I was getting irritated and couldn’t connect with the characters at all.

    Posted by Athira | July 25, 2011, 7:15 pm
  6. Uh, too bad, the title made me think of the Goons (Peter Sellers et al, the radio show). Yeah, I think I’ll just head over to youtube and spend my time with those Goons 🙂

    Posted by Bina | July 25, 2011, 8:16 pm
  7. So many mixed reviews for this one. I am sort of with you… I can’t get excited about this one. I’ve looked at it it so many times and it just doesn’t do a darn thing for me. My friends keep telling me to read it. I probably won’t.

    Posted by Ti | July 25, 2011, 8:25 pm
    • Ti,
      This is one of those time you should listen to your heart than your friends. Because the book doesn’t do any thing for me too! There are other books where your time are better spend. 😉

      Posted by JoV | July 26, 2011, 7:38 am
  8. Looks as though we’re sharing opinions on the Oranges. I thought this was pretty pointless too 😦

    Posted by farmlanebooks | July 25, 2011, 9:16 pm
    • Jackie,
      It’s so pointless I want to weep. 🙂 Are you thinking of reading the Man Booker shortlist this year? Would be interesting to see if your prediction comes true! You are fab on predictions. 🙂

      Posted by JoV | July 26, 2011, 7:47 am
  9. this is one that people either love or hate ,I ve not it on my radar at moment sorry it didn’t suit you ,all the best stu

    Posted by winstonsdad | July 25, 2011, 10:21 pm
  10. I agree with you so vehemently. This just didn’t do it for me AT ALL.

    Posted by readingwithtea | September 3, 2011, 10:00 pm


  1. Pingback: It’s a Wrap! July 2011 « Bibliojunkie - August 1, 2011

  2. Pingback: A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan – 3/10 | Reading Fuelled By Tea - August 27, 2011

  3. Pingback: Visit Our Book Squads | Ferndale Public Library Observer - November 5, 2011

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

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Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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