A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
My class on 20th Century Literature ended with a sad anti-climax of the professor reading aloud a list of authors from her powerpoint as a half-assed commentary on “Po-Mo” literature (is it okay to hate that abbreviation? Like Postcolonial – “Po-Co” – blech). Egan was mentioned, and since I’ve had Hemingway draped across my mind for weeks, I grabbed this book by the new, female author.
Reading Egan reminded me of the discovery of the YA section in my hometown library when I was ten. Books like this are the reason I didn’t fall asleep until sunrise for years. The quick but seamless jumping between the new narrator in each chapter kept me interested, trying to guess what was next and always failing, always surprised.
I found it hard to not think about age and dying, about holding on to people you love and working hard every day to be as alive as possible. The stories dealt with change and the kind of life kids my age want but one that fades until you’re nothing but droopy tattoos, hollow eyes and a nicotine addiction.
Pushing aside what was assigned for school and the giant writing project I’m supposed to be working on, I read this and don’t regret it. I too easily forget to read for enjoyment, only working my way through the “classics,” which I assign myself in an attempt to achieve a self-education when the university doesn’t seem enough.
But Egan has been a happy reminder that I don’t know everything and neither did the prominent authors from history. This new writer has been a relief for me, and I’ll be looking for more.