Recently I finished reading A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. It was quite an experience.
Each chapter of this book felt like you were being dropped into the ocean. Once you popped up to the surface (and caught your breath), you needed to bob around looking to see which characters were here, who was telling the story, and where it fell into place with the rest of the time line. It reminded me of that scene in The Hunger Games trilogy where they realize they will begin the game in the water.
It was a little like the TV series, Lost, with it’s flash forwards and flash backs (but no Others, hatches, or wheels that can move large land masses). There were instances where you were told what was going to happen, but then found yourself surprised when it did. That really is the genius of this book.
As I was reading, I would give B a brief summary of what I had read. I thought it would help me understand things. There was one chapter that told the story of a marriage – key moments that explained how it started and what caused it to end. As I was telling B about it, I realized I had left a part out. I just couldn’t fit it in. It seemed inconsequential – like something that should have been edited out with a big red pen – until I read the next chapter. And then got even more confused.
Another chapter is a PowerPoint deck (written by a 12-year old, no less). For this reason, people recommend reading this book in paper form, and not on an e-reader. I almost made this my first Kindle purchase, until I heard that. One day I will take that plunge.
This book reminds you that people will come into your life for a time. How long isn’t really up to you. And even if they come back into your life, it will never be the same. Life goes on. We all get old. We all die. All we can do is make the best of it.