All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

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Happy reading!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan

A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan, is centered around Bennie, a successful music producer, who is struggling to protect his reputation, his relationship with his son, and an old friend.

The first chapters of the book suggest that her opening character, Bennie’s kleptomaniac administrative assistant, might be the “main” character in the book. But she continues to introduce multiple characters, who at first seem tangential—but pay attention, they are likely to appear again in a more prominent role, and the one you thought might carry throughout the book does not. Yet, once you adapt, this doesn’t feel disjointed or confusing.

The other skill Eagen has is moving the book back and forth through time. She unveils the past and gently revisits it, so that the character is richer and more complete. In the final pages of the book she ventures into the future, and describes a possible reality that doesn’t seem far-fetched or silly. Texting, for example, is the preferred method of communicating any private or personal thoughts. Threats like global warming and national security play prominent roles in the new, future reality. And, Egan’s characters adapt to their own losses and private griefs. As Bosco, one of Bennie’s oldest musician friends, says, “Time’s a goon, right?”
Another homage to the modern world is an entire chapter created from SmartArt so that the story flows like a diagram in a PowerPoint presentation. A note of caution, if you’re reading this book on an eReader that can’t adjust the size of embedded pictures or diagrams, they may be difficult to read.

Egan’s novel is a richly woven tapestry of a story, taking the reader along like a loom’s shuttle, moving in and out of time and drawing in the threads of characters as it unfolds, so that by the end of the book, the story’s cloth is tight, intricate, and complete. A Visit from the Goon Squad was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It was published in 2011 by Anchor.

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