Friday, June 28, 2013
Jennifer Egan's "A Visit From the Goon Squad": Book Review
The plot's all over the place, literally. Latch on to an appealing young woman on the make and a chapter later, it's another time and another generation. Jennifer Egan manages to keep all her storylines folding into each other, but readers lacking patience may wonder at her intricacy. For me, it worked as entertainment, with the attempted rapist, a journalist in eerie thrall to a despot, and the foibles of journalism best succeeding. However, the African interlude failed to keep my interest, even if I understood why it had its place in character development. For all its range, you can still see the seams showing now and then within the construction. Egan puts a lot of energy into juggling a lot of balls in the air at once.
I chose to hear this with Roxana Ortega's dramatization. (The Power Point's via a click-through slide-show with a quaint projector sound on the tape.) Her often ironic, sneering, blustery, or fragile voice captures effectively the brash attitude of the passel of these often snobbish, insecure, and/or privileged folks, scrabbling their way up the social ladder in cities and exurbs, as the planet weakens under global warming and the media-driven frenzies escalate. Underneath it all, it's a comedy of manners two hundred years after Jane Austen, perhaps. (Amazon US 7-31-12)