Cover image for A visit from the Goon Squad
Title:
A visit from the Goon Squad
Author:
Egan, Jennifer.
Personal Author:
Edition:
1st Anchor Books ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Anchor Books, 2011.
Physical Description:
340 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Summary:
Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs, confront their pasts in this story about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn, and how art and music have the power to redeem.
General Note:
Originally published: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307477477
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Item Holds
Searching...
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
National Book Critics Circle Award Winner
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
A New York Times Book Review Best Book

One of the Best Books of the Year: nbsp; Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR's On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive.nbsp;Sasha isnbsp;the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is anbsp;startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.


Author Notes

Jennifer Egan was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 6, 1962. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and St. John's College, Cambridge. She is the author of The Invisible Circus, Look at Me, Emerald City and Other Stories, The Keep, and Manhattan Beach, which won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction in 2018. Her title, A Visit from the Goon Squad, won both the 2011 Pulitzer Prize and the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Her short stories have appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, Harpers, and Granta. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship. Her non-fiction articles appear frequently in the New York Times Magazine and have won a number of awards.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Egan is a writer of cunning subtlety, embedding within the risky endeavors of seductively complicated characters a curious bending of time and escalation of technology's covert impact. Following her diabolically clever The Keep (2006), Egan tracks the members of a San Francisco punk band and their hangers-on over the decades as they wander out into the wider, bewildering world. Kleptomaniac Sasha survives the underworld of Naples, Italy. Her boss, New York music producer Bennie Salazar, is miserable in the suburbs, where his tattooed wife, Stephanie, sneaks off to play tennis with Republicans. Obese former rock-star Bosco wants Stephanie to help him with a Suicide Tour, while her all-powerful publicist boss eventually falls so low she takes a job rehabilitating the public image of a genocidal dictator. These are just a few of the faltering searchers in Egan's hilarious, melancholy, enrapturing, unnerving, and piercingly beautiful mosaic of a novel. As episodes surge forward and back in time, from the spitting aggression of a late-1970s punk-rock club to the obedient, socially networked herd gathered at the Footprint, Manhattan's 9/11 site 20 years after the attack, Egan evinces an acute sensitivity to the black holes of shame and despair and to the remote-control power of the gadgets that are reordering our world.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

In reading this novel of interconnected lives at the fringes of the music industry, Roxana Ortega freights her breathy voice with the moral confusion and sadness of Egan's disaffected, dismayed characters. A surprisingly supple instrument, Ortega's voice can drop to a gruff near-growl, and she craftily uses her range to convey the feeling of the bottom dropping out of the characters' lives. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 22). (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Time changes both everything and nothing in this novel about former punk rocker-turned-music executive Bennie Salazar and Sasha, his indispensable secretary with an unhappy past. A host of characters from San Francisco's 1970s music scene collide in ways that are hard to summarize, with peripheral characters in one chapter more fully developed in others. These well-defined characters and the engaging narrative are hallmarks of Egan's earlier fiction, which include Look at Me, a National Book Award finalist, and the best-selling The Keep. Here, we learn that power is transient, authenticity is not all it's cracked up to be, and friendships are often fragile, but the connections among people matter terribly. Often, we survive the self-destructive tendencies of youth only to realize that we've just exchanged one set of problems for another. Verdict In the end, this novel does offer hope, but it is the grubby kind that keeps you going once you've been kicked to the curb. Readers will enjoy seeing the disparate elements of this novel come full circle. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/10.]-Gwen Vredevoogd, Marymount Univ., Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter 1 Found Objects It began the usual way, in the bathroom of the Lassimo Hotel. Sasha was adjusting her yellow eye shadow in the mirror when she noticed a bag on the floor beside the sink that must have belonged to the woman whose peeing she could faintly hear through the vaultlike door of a toilet stall. Inside the rim of the bag, barely visible, was a wallet made of pale green leather. It was easy for Sasha to recognize, looking back, that the peeing woman's blind trust had provoked her: We live in a city where people will steal the hair off your head if you give them half a chance, but you leave your stuff lying in plain sight and expect it to be waiting for you when you come back? It made her want to teach the woman a lesson. But this wish only camouflaged the deeper feeling Sasha always had: that at, tender wallet, offering itself to her hand-it seemed so dull, so life-as-usual to just leave it there rather than seize the moment, accept the challenge, take the leap, fly the coop, throw caution to the wind, live dangerously ("I get it," Coz, her therapist, said), and take the fucking thing. "You mean steal it." He was trying to get Sasha to use that word, which was harder to avoid in the case of a wallet than with a lot of the things she'd lifted over the past year, when her condition (as Coz referred to it) had begun to accelerate: five sets of keys, fourteen pairs of sunglasses, a child's striped scarf, binoculars, a cheese grater, a pocketknife, twenty-eight bars of soap, and eighty-five pens, ranging from cheap ballpoints she'd used to sign debit-card slips to the aubergine Visconti that cost two hundred sixty dollars online, which she'd lifted from her former boss's lawyer during a contracts meeting. Sasha no longer took anything from stores-their cold, inert goods didn't tempt her. Only from people. "Okay," she said. "Steal it." Sasha and Coz had dubbed that feeling she got the "personal challenge," as in: taking the wallet was a way for Sasha to assert her toughness, her individuality. What they needed to do was switch things around in her head so that the challenge became not taking the wallet but leaving it. That would be the cure, although Coz never used words like "cure." He wore funky sweaters and let her call him Coz, but he was old school inscrutable, to the point where Sasha couldn't tell if he was gay or straight, if he'd written famous books, or if (as she sometimes suspected) he was one of those escaped cons who impersonate surgeons and wind up leaving their operating tools inside people's skulls. Of course, these questions could have been resolved on Google in less than a minute, but they were useful questions (according to Coz), and so far, Sasha had resisted. The couch where she lay in his office was blue leather and very soft. Coz liked the couch, he'd told her, because it relieved them both of the burden of eye contact. "You don't like eye contact?" Sasha had asked. It seemed like a weird thing for a therapist to admit. "I find it tiring," he'd said. "This way, we can both look where we want." "Where will you look?" He smiled. "You can see my options." "Where do you usually look? When people are on the couch." "Around the room," Coz said. "At the ceiling. Into space." "Do you ever sleep?" "No." Sasha usually looked at the window, which faced the street, and tonight, as she continued her story, was rippled with rain. She'd glimpsed the wallet, tender and overripe as a peach. She'd plucked it from the woman's bag and slipped it into her own small handbag, which she'd zipped shut before the sound of peeing had stopped. She'd flicked open the bathroom door and floated back through the lobby to the bar. She and the wallet's owner had never seen each other. Prewallet, Sasha had been in the grip of a dire evening: lame date (yet another) brooding behind dark bangs, sometimes glancing at the flat-screen TV, where a Jets game seemed to interest him more than Sasha's admittedly overhandled tales of Bennie Salazar, her old boss, who was famous for founding the Sow's Ear record label and who also (Sasha happened to know) sprinkled gold flakes into his coffee-as an aphrodisiac, she suspected-and sprayed pesticide in his armpits. Postwallet, however, the scene tingled with mirthful possibility. Sasha felt the waiters eyeing her as she sidled back to the table holding her handbag with its secret weight. She sat down and took a sip of her Melon Madness Martini and cocked her head at Alex. She smiled her yes/no smile. "Hello," she said. The yes/no smile was amazingly effective. "You're happy," Alex said. "I'm always happy," Sasha said. "Sometimes I just forget." Alex had paid the bill while she was in the bathroom-clear proof that he'd been on the verge of aborting their date. Now he studied her. "You feel like going somewhere else?" They stood. Alex wore black cords and a white button-up shirt. He was a legal secretary. On e-mail he'd been fanciful, almost goofy, but in person he seemed simultaneously anxious and bored. She could tell that he was in excellent shape, not from going to the gym but from being young enough that his body was still imprinted with whatever sports he'd played in high school and college. Sasha, who was thirty-five, had passed that point. Still, not even Coz knew her real age. The closest anyone had come to guessing it was thirty-one, and most put her in her twenties. She worked out daily and avoided the sun. Her online profiles all listed her as twenty-eight. As she followed Alex from the bar, she couldn't resist unzipping her purse and touching the fat green wallet just for a second, for the contraction it made her feel around her heart. "You're aware of how the theft makes you feel," Coz said. "To the point where you remind yourself of it to improve your mood. But do you think about how it makes the other person feel?" Sasha tipped back her head to look at him. She made a point of doing this now and then, just to remind Coz that she wasn't an idiot-she knew the question had a right answer. She and Coz were collaborators, writing a story whose end had already been determined: she would get well. She would stop stealing from people and start caring again about the things that had once guided her: music; the network of friends she'd made when she first came to New York; a set of goals she'd scrawled on a big sheet of newsprint and taped to the walls of her early apartments: Find a band to manage Understand the news Study Japanese Practice the harp "I don't think about the people," Sasha said. "But it isn't that you lack empathy," Coz said. "We know that, because of the plumber." Sasha sighed. She'd told Coz the plumber story about a month ago, and he'd found a way to bring it up at almost every session since. The plumber was an old man, sent by Sasha's landlord to investigate a leak in the apartment below hers. He'd appeared in Sasha's doorway, tufts of gray on his head, and within a minute- boom -he'd hit the floor and crawled under her bathtub like an animal fumbling its way into a familiar hole. The fingers he'd groped toward the bolts behind the tub were grimed to cigar stubs, and reaching made his sweatshirt hike up, exposing a soft white back. Sasha turned away, stricken by the old man's abasement, anxious to leave for her temp job, except that the plumber was talking to her, asking about the length and frequency of her showers. "I never use it," she told him curtly. "I shower at the gym." He nodded without acknowledging her rudeness, apparently used to it. Sasha's nose began to prickle; she shut her eyes and pushed hard on both temples. Opening her eyes, she saw the plumber's tool belt lying on the floor at her feet. It had a beautiful screwdriver in it, the orange translucent handle gleaming like a lollipop in its worn leather loop, the silvery shaft sculpted, sparkling. Sasha felt herself contract around the object in a single yawn of appetite; she needed to hold the screwdriver, just for a minute. She bent her knees and plucked it noiselessly from the belt. Not a bangle jangled; her bony hands were spastic at most things, but she was good at this- made for it , she often thought, in the first drifty moments after lifting something. And once the screwdriver was in her hand, she felt instant relief from the pain of having an old soft-backed man snuffling under her tub, and then something more than relief: a blessed indifference, as if the very idea of feeling pain over such a thing were baffling. "And what about after he'd gone?" Coz had asked when Sasha told him the story. "How did the screwdriver look to you then?" There was a pause. "Normal," she said. "Really. Not special anymore?" "Like any screwdriver." Sasha had heard Coz shift behind her and felt something happen in the room: the screwdriver, which she'd placed on the table (recently supplemented with a second table) where she kept the things she'd lifted, and which she'd barely looked at since, seemed to hang in the air of Coz's office. It floated between them: a symbol. "And how did you feel?" Coz asked quietly. "About having taken it from the plumber you pitied?" How did she feel? How did she feel? There was a right answer, of course. At times Sasha had to fight the urge to lie simply as a way of depriving Coz of it. "Bad," she said. "Okay? I felt bad. Shit, I'm bankrupting myself to pay for you-obviously I get that this isn't a great way to live." More than once, Coz had tried to connect the plumber to Sasha's father, who had disappeared when she was six. She was careful not to indulge this line of thinking. "I don't remember him," she told Coz. "I have nothing to say." She did this for Coz's protection and her own- they were writing a story of redemption, of fresh beginnings and second chances. But in that direction lay only sorrow. Sasha and Alex crossed the lobby of the Lassimo Hotel in the direction of the street. Sasha hugged her purse to her shoulder, the warm ball of wallet snuggled in her armpit. As they passed the angular budded branches by the big glass doors to the street, a woman zigzagged into their path. "Wait," she said. "You haven't seen-I'm desperate." Sasha felt a twang of terror. It was the woman whose wallet she'd taken-she knew this instantly, although the person before her had nothing in common with the blithe, raven-haired wallet owner she'd pictured. This woman had vulnerable brown eyes and flat pointy shoes that clicked too loudly on the marble floor. There was plenty of gray in her frizzy brown hair. Sasha took Alex's arm, trying to steer him through the doors. She felt his pulse of surprise at her touch, but he stayed put. "Have we seen what?" he said. "Someone stole my wallet. My ID is gone, and I have to catch a plane tomorrow morning. I'm just desperate!" She stared beseechingly at both of them. It was the sort of frank need that New Yorkers quickly learn how to hide, and Sasha recoiled. It had never occurred to her that the woman was from out of town. "Have you called the police?" Alex asked. "The concierge said he would call. But I'm also wondering-could it have fallen out somewhere?" She looked helplessly at the marble floor around their feet. Sasha relaxed slightly. This woman was the type who annoyed people without meaning to; apology shadowed her movements even now, as she followed Alex to the concierge's desk. Sasha trailed behind. "Is someone helping this person?" she heard Alex ask. The concierge was young and spiky haired. "We've called the police," he said defensively. Alex turned to the woman. "Where did this happen?" "In the ladies' room. I think." "Who else was there?" "No one." "It was empty?" "There might have been someone, but I didn't see her." Alex swung around to Sasha. "You were just in the bathroom," he said. "Did you see anyone?" "No," she managed to say. She had Xanax in her purse, but she couldn't open her purse. Even with it zipped, she feared that the wallet would blurt into view in some way that she couldn't control, unleashing a cascade of horrors: arrest, shame, poverty, death. Alex turned to the concierge. "How come I'm asking these questions instead of you?" he said. "Someone just got robbed in your hotel. Don't you have, like, security?" The words "robbed" and "security" managed to pierce the soothing backbeat that pumped through not just the Lassimo but every hotel like it in New York City. There was a mild ripple of interest from the lobby. "I've called security," the concierge said, adjusting his neck. "I'll call them again." Sasha glanced at Alex. He was angry, and the anger made him recognizable in a way that an hour of aimless chatter (mostly hers, it was true) had not: he was new to New York. He came from someplace smaller. He had a thing or two to prove about how people should treat one another. Two security guys showed up, the same on TV and in life: beefy guys whose scrupulous politeness was somehow linked to their willingness to crack skulls. They dispersed to search the bar. Sasha wished feverishly that she'd left the wallet there, as if this were an impulse she'd barely resisted. "I'll check the bathroom," she told Alex, and forced herself to walk slowly around the elevator bank. The bathroom was empty. Sasha opened her purse, took out the wallet, unearthed her vial of Xanax, and popped one between her teeth. They worked faster if you chewed them. As the caustic taste flooded her mouth, she scanned the room, trying to decide where to ditch the wallet: In the stall? Under the sink? The decision paralyzed her. She had to do this right, to emerge unscathed, and if she could, if she did-she had a frenzied sense of making a promise to Coz. The bathroom door opened, and the woman walked in. Her frantic eyes met Sasha's in the bathroom mirror: narrow, green, equally frantic. There was a pause, during which Sasha felt that she was being confronted; the woman knew, had known all along. Sasha handed her the wallet. She saw, from the woman's stunned expression, that she was wrong. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.