Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Visit From the Goon Squad

You know it's a party when a spontaneous book club meeting breaks out!  Yes, at Red's baby shower today we realized we had a higher hit rate of book club members than on any other day in the month.  Hors d'oeuvres, main course, dessert--all check.  So, our track record remains unbroken:  nine years of The Club of Books, with not a meeting missed!

 Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad was a real dud, scoring a lackluster 5.0.  Everyone read it and everyone seemed to have come away with the same impression:  it was simply too much.  Trying too hard, too zeitgeisty, too post-modern (and too late to be trying to be post-modern), too bizarre, too musical, too masculine, and just kind of irritating.  This story started out with promise, and at first it was fun to piece together the connections between the characters as the book skips back and forth in time, like when you initially realized that Bennie Salazar's assistant Sasha is the kleptomaniac from the first chapter, and also the girl whose uncle goes to track her down after she runs away to Naples, Italy.  But it just didn't hang together tightly enough.  Some of the chapters--like the one about La Doll, who threw the most fabulous event in New York until her VIP guests got burned with hot wax (note to the party "no-no" file) and then tried to redeem herself by doing PR for a Central American dictator--were amusing but overly complicated and random.  The PowerPoint presentation felt played (if you've read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (and have we?) you've been there and done that), and the futuristic chapter at the end where they're all texting on cell phones was kind of lame.  So an "A" for effort and inventiveness, but this author tried to do too much and didn't quite nail it.

This picture seemed to go with both the Thanksgiving and the Baby Shower themes:

As everyone knows our Holiday Book Club is on December 14th, and we're reading Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.  Read early and often and make sure your spouses do the same!!  xoej

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