Up Late with A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

This novel takes us through a variety of interconnected narrators over multiple continents and several decades. Initially and ultimately, it seems to revolve around Sasha, a young woman who works as an assistant to a record executive, but the stories woven around and through her all seem interconnected in the way a mosaic does–there’s a larger picture when you step back and take in all the smaller pieces. The only difference here is the mosaic isn’t just visual, it is also audio, since the book focuses on the music industry.

I enjoyed this book in a way I don’t think I might have when I was younger. Many of the stories revolved around aging and dying and how surprised we are when those things happen to us. Sasha says at one point: “I’m always happy,” Sasha said. “Sometimes I just forget.” Many of the characters resonated with me, but I especially like reading Scotty–who thought to himself at one point: “I understood what almost no one else seemed to grasp: that there was only an infinitesimal difference, a difference so small that it barely existed except as a figment of the human imagination, between working in a tall green glass building on Park Avenue and collecting litter in a park.”

There was only one issue I had with the book, and that was the projected future at the end–this was written in 2010, and five years later, the text talk at the end everyone seems to use is annoying. As my students remind me, nobody actually texts R for are and U for you unless they are trying to imitate teenagers–except teenagers have smartphones and autocorrect (thank goodness for the English language and spelling).

The novel seems to end on a high note (haha, pun intended) with an epic concert and a denouement via presentations of a young woman using the software as a journal for her daily interactions with her family. The affordances these slides have visually are stunning and I thought it was an innovative way to examine the impact all the former stories had on one character’s life.

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Posted by Kate, VP Secondary, PCTELA

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Up Late with A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

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