Review: ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ by Jennifer Egan

There is a scene in Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, when an aged and plumped and be-cancer-ed rock and roll star named Bosco is pitching an idea to his publicist: He wants to tour again in support of his album “A to B.” A suicide tour. He doesn’t want to fade away, he tells her, he wants to flame away. A spectacle. An attraction. Everyone knows he is going to kick it, they just don’t know when or where. He wants interviews and videos and every humiliation documented.

“The album’s called ‘A to B,’ right?” Bosco said. “And that’s the question I want to hit straight on: how did I go from being a rock star to being a fat fuck no one cares about? Let’s not pretend it didn’t happen. . . .
Time’s a goon, right? Isn’t that the expression?”

Time is, in fact, the title goon of this novel full of short stories, a collection of pulse points in the lives of a full squad of players in the rock and roll scene. Each stars a character that is connected to another in a way that ranges from meaningful to fleeting. Then Egan upped the difficulty level: Each story can stand alone as a short story — and in some cases has actually been published elsewhere. And it isn’t told in chronological order.


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