A Visit from the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan)

A Visit from the Goon Squad is another multiple point-of-view novel, though unlike another recent listen, The Mare, which included two primary and a few supplementing POVs, this book by Egan took a much more kaleidoscopic POV approach. The end comes back to the beginning, though twenty-plus years after the beginning, with the middle dipping thirty years before the start. The perspectives felt fractal, psychedelic, like going down a rabbit hole of word-association, except through the lives of characters introduced in one chapter and explored through subsequent points of view.

Multiplicity of perspective is nothing new in literature, though I’m intrigued by the abundance of novels which now take this approach as a matter of course. As a reader/listener, when faced with a singular perspective in the story’s telling, I sense a gaping lack of wholeness, a knowledge that the truth of a telling, a fullness of understanding, is severely limited when restrained by the perspective of one narrator. A full sense of truth is not necessarily achieved by multiple points of view, but my understanding of a tale is significantly bolstered by hearing from many characters about similar events.

Such was true of this book, told in intertwining voices, referencing close but seldom overlapping events, offering a fractalized sense of music and business and personality and fame and public perception and the interface with technology and swiftly or slowly evolving cultural norms. This spiderweb of story is intricate, and beautiful.

 

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