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Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts 
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Post Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD
Jennifer Egan

Final Thoughts



Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:06 am
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
One question has been bothering me: the character--of more so, the name--of Chronos. I need to find out why Chronos (=Time) appears when and where he does. And I'm starting to have fun tracing the "time" metaphors.


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Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:43 am
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
oblivion wrote:
One question has been bothering me: the character--of more so, the name--of Chronos. I need to find out why Chronos (=Time) appears when and where he does. And I'm starting to have fun tracing the "time" metaphors.


Chronos appears to be the epitome of not having enough time.



Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:46 pm
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
I must admit, I am having a hard time getting through this book. I am finding the comments on the novel more entertaining than the book itself. I have three more chapters to get through and if I can find the fortitude within myself I will try to read it again once I am finished. I did find the chapter on the general to be hilarious. La Doll/Dolly and Lulu have become my favorite characters. Maybe this is why I don't like this novel, the characters swich so often its hard to really care about them. So, I'm off to finish the novel, maybe within the next three chapters there will be an aha moment that will pull the whole thing together.



Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:45 am
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
Suzanne. Might be premature of me to comment as I haven't written about all the chapters yet. I found the book very interesting, but very dissatisfying. You know how with some books you close it and can't read anything for days because you are thinking about it?? With this one I just thought - well interesting but given the choice would not read it again.


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Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:12 pm
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
Actually, this book seems like a perfect book club book.....one you don't really like and probably won't ever read again, but one which can nevertheless be discussed well. I think what I enjoyed most about the book were the narrating devices she used. I almost left out the PowerPoint chapter but I'm glad I didn't. It was clever. But I can't say I liked it. Suzanne, your point about the develpment of the characters rings true. Just when you're starting to like one, identify with one, wonder what's going to happen in his or her life, the character is cut. And you find yourself thinking "so what". Do I care? But is this intentional?


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Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:43 am
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
oblivion wrote:
Actually, this book seems like a perfect book club book.....one you don't really like and probably won't ever read again, but one which can nevertheless be discussed well. I think what I enjoyed most about the book were the narrating devices she used. I almost left out the PowerPoint chapter but I'm glad I didn't. It was clever. But I can't say I liked it. Suzanne, your point about the develpment of the characters rings true. Just when you're starting to like one, identify with one, wonder what's going to happen in his or her life, the character is cut. And you find yourself thinking "so what". Do I care? But is this intentional?


I think Egan may have been trying to make a point about the lack of a real connection between people due to technology. Her narrative showed how people can come and go without really leaving anything worthwhile in a relationship. I hope that she is wrong and that people will communicate more with each other instead of less. Techies have a saying "garbage in, garbage out"; if we all input value then we will get value back out of technology.



Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:03 am
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
I also feel disconnected from a novel that has no main character, but if you read Goon Squad as a series of interconnected short stories, I think it works better. Her novel, The Keep is a better novel, although still a bit fragmented towards the end. Egan is the consummate short story writer and perhaps that's where she really shines. Her writing is quite amazing, very concise and accessible. She's a thoroughly modern kind of writer. Still, I was surprised that this novel was awarded the Pulitzer for fiction. I don't think she's really found her niche yet.


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Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:02 am
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
Geo, I agree that "The Keep" is a better book. I think this may be part of the problem: I had read and enjoyed that book a long time ago.
Lindad: That is exactly what I meant by the word intentional--I think it is a device she is using. The stories are fragments of lives and just barely have something to do with each other. And I think this is the message she is trying to get across.Our lives touch but we are not really able to have deep, meaningful relationships. Rather dystopian, isn't it? Time or the Good Squad seems to be the only thing we have in common that affects us all. But in the end, does time really even matter? I find myself chewing on this book a lot. I am very happy I read it. But I can't say I'll reread it or even save it.


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Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


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Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:25 am
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
I have to agree with Suzanne; I'm having a hard time finishing this book as well. :?



Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:50 pm
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
oblivion wrote:
The stories are fragments of lives and just barely have something to do with each other. And I think this is the message she is trying to get across.Our lives touch but we are not really able to have deep, meaningful relationships. Rather dystopian, isn't it?


Interesting observation, Oblivion. No doubt this is what Egan is doing here. She's doing something in The Keep that I was never really able to figure out. The ending was a bit baffling for me.

I recently came across this essay by Donald Noble called The Future of Southern Writing. I wish I could post the entire essay because it's so good. Anyway, Noble makes an observation about the loss of community in the southern U.S. (although naturally it applies everywhere) and what that will mean for southern literature.

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Southerners will continue to be a church-going people, but the role of fundamentalist religion will be diminished in the literature ahead as the influence of the church in the community diminishes. The sense of community itself, long understood as an identifying mark of Southern writing, will also be weaker. Strangers are moving in, and now probably not everyone residing in a small town was born there. Along with this diminution in sense of community, the South seems to be joining the nation in other attitudes as well. There is more non-teleological thinking, for example, less sense of a master plan. The South will not soon be a nest nihilists or existentialists, but concerns will move from communal to personal; and chaos and disorder that have been depicted in Southern literature, as in Shakespeare drama, as a rending of the social fabric, a wound to the body politic, will now be seen personal and domestic terms, not communal ones. Southerners feel increasingly isolated, alienated from society, albeit less so than New Yorkers or Los Angelenos, perhaps, and this sense of isolation from kin and neighbors will be a theme of future writing.


So, yeah, there seems to be an existential thread winding through Egan's stories in this book. I didn't really notice this when I read it before.


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Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:46 pm
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
oblivion wrote:
The stories are fragments of lives and just barely have something to do with each other. And I think this is the message she is trying to get across.Our lives touch but we are not really able to have deep, meaningful relationships.


This is very interesting and you might be spot on. I'm trying to connect this statement with the powerpoint chapter. Alison sees the relationships in her own family, but they are somewhat separate. "Great Rock and Roll Pauses" is my favorite part of the book, it is very touching and sad. It is also effective. Egan prepared the reader well for the PP with the previous story. Alson wants a deep meaningful relationship with her parents. She has one with her brother. But I get the feeling she can't have one with her parents. Whose fault is this?

I have finished the book, Egan tied it up nicely going back to Alex. As far as stand alone stories there were only four that I found to be entertaining on their own. "Found Objects", "Selling the General", "Pure Language" and "Great Rock and Roll Pauses". I included the PP story because it was written by a little girl, on a computer. I can see her writing a story by PP. Does anyone keep journels anymore?

My nook has this great feature where I can search for words within a book. So I had a great time last night searching for names. The chapter, "Out of Body", involves many of the characters during an important time, and it seems to be a paste that glues some of the characters together. Sasha, Lizzie, Drew and Rob. I read this chapter again and was able to gather a little more information about Sasha and Drew that made PP section that much more powerful.

I read another novel like this a few years ago, "The Dew Breaker", Edwidge Danticat. The novel is comprised of unrelated stories, however they were all connected by one main event.

Quote:
. . . the "Dew Breakers" are members of the Tonton Macoutes, a group of volunteers who tortured and killed thousands of civilians under the regimes of François and Jean-Claude Duvalier in Haiti.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dew_Breaker

The book was not grusome, the stories were told once the victims reached saftey. Each story stood alone. Each character was well developed. The novel was disjointed and fragmented, but at the end you felt something. The only character that made me feel anything in "Goon" was Alison Blake. Oh, and Kitty Jackson, she was funny as hell.



Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:05 pm
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
The section about the pauses in music affected me deeply: it's so easy to just "listen" to music, just let it act as white noise a lot of the time. Most people feel uncomfortable during pauses, whether in conversation or in a concert (where people inevitably start coughing to fill in the emptiness). I like the idea of the pause being what it's all about, not the filler. It's almost Zen. :) You can only really learn to truly listen when you understand that what is not there is perhaps what it is all about.


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Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:56 am
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
oblivion wrote:
You can only really learn to truly listen when you understand that what is not there is perhaps what it is all about.


Sshhh, lets just listen for a moment. . . .

You have a beautiful way with words oblivion.

Sometimes I think people are afraid of silence. Silence is very intimate, and maybe some people are afraid of this intimacy. The pauses in the music may illustrate the awkwardness the characters have relating to each other. You have to be very comfortable with each other to be able to just sit and be quite.

oblivion wrote:
The section about the pauses in music affected me deeply


Me too



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Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:09 am
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Post Re: Visit From Goon Squad, Final Thoughts
In the interview posted here, Egan says that she finds it difficult to write about herself or those close to her, but says that the nearest she came to doing it accidentally, was the twelve year old girl in the PP chapter.I agree with Oblivian about the pauses. It seems that we need to fill our lives always with activity and noise. I was reminded of a poem by WH Davies


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.


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