A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
This is a smart book written by a smart person and you will feel smart if you read it and like it. If, like me, you don’t enjoy the reading, you will get the feeling you have failed literature in some way, that you have fallen short. I did in fact enjoy a few of the chapters very much, including the Bobby chapter about Sasha’s pretend boyfriend, and the Kitty Jackson section about the genocidal general. I spent most of my time trying to keep track of who was who and how the current chapter was going to tie itself to the sort-of-narrative about Bennie and Sasha that provides the book’s structure. The writing was at times so concise and exact it exceeded what most poets do, especially the section about Uncle Teddy folding his love in half because it was too overwhelming. There are dozens of such startling moments. There is no story as such, but there is a lot of reading to do, and I did all of it, including the powerpoint poem, which meant almost nothing to me, though I have heard about it as a dazzling this-or-that. A book can be great without my liking it, and I’m used to that, and don’t doubt that there is a lot here that I missed. But I’m going to read another book now and let this one go.