Despite the massive amount of critical praise and awards (including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award) Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad had racked up I started the book with fairly low expectations. I hadn’t been a big fan of her novel Look At Me and this concept sounded more like a clever gimmick than a book I’d fall in love with. I’m happy to say I couldn’t have been more wrong. Goon Squad is a good idea (13 chapters told from 13 different points of view all loosely connected to a character in a previous chapter) executed at a masters level. Egan is so in control, from so many different angles that this book could serve as a fiction writing class all by itself. (A class I’d love to take or teach.) The stories are original, entertaining, poignant, heartbreaking and funny – simply put Egan manages to capture the broad spectrum of human experience within her widely cast net. The book’s running theme seems to be time and memory, more specifically how quickly time slips by and the strange, skewed process of retaining and recalling memories. It’s an idea I’ve long been fascinated with and seeing someone tackle it so successfully, in such an organic way made it not only a pleasure to read but a catalyst that sparked a series of related thoughts and memories of my own. Similar to Jonathan Franzen’s instant classic The Corrections, Goon Squad hits so many different notes and is so engaging that I would feel comfortable recommending it to just about anyone. It certainly staked a spot in my personal Hall of Fame and is a book I look forward to returning to again in the future.

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