When I saw the cover of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, I immediately wanted to read it. I mean, isn’t it great? The composition and color and the tweaked out guitar strings are just perfect. And then I read the summary and I was kind of nonplussed. It seemed to echo the summaries of books like Bright Lights, Big City or Less Than Zero which I have had no desire to read (shock, horror, I know, whatever) about privileged people doing a lot of drugs and screwing up and maybe there’s redemption and maybe there’s not. Who knows? I haven’t read them. Go figure.

But then, I needed a V book and it had that damn-near perfect cover. It also didn’t hurt any that Egan just won the National Book Critics Circle Award for A Visit from the Goon Squad either. So I caved. Because really, I am not that shallow about books. Just shallow enough that Visit starts with V and fills a void on my alphabetical list.

Here’s the thing about A Visit from Goon Squad: There are some privileged people. There are some drugs. There’s even some screwing up. But there’s also some of the most creative storytelling I have read in a long time. A Visit from the Goon Squad is far from ordinary. It’s a contemporary novel told from the various perspectives of its many and varied main characters: Sasha a younger-looking-than-she is music industry assistant with a tiny kleptomania problem; Bennie, her middle-aged manager struggling to find and book the next big act; Lou an overly tanned, skirt chasing father of 6 (by 3 different wives) who attempts to defy the passage of time; Dolly (aka La Doll) an out of work PR maven who gets her groove back making the worst (the really really worst) look their best; Jules Jones, a celebrity reporter who lands himself in jail after failing to keep his business all about the business.

That’s probably only half of them. And Egan has them all interconnected, all telling their story from their own unique voice. From that perspective, it’s really a sort of mini masterpiece. Never once could I tell where the story was going and that kept me not only interested, but invigorated, much like the characters at their most energetic moments. Egan accomplishes a significant amount of character development, considering how many key players there are and I was astonished how impacted I was by just a few of them who had smaller, bit parts to play (oh sweet Rolph!).

A Visit from the Goon Squad is different. It’s unlike anything I have ever read. Perhaps had I read more (or more of the stuff I have tended to avoid), I may not feel this way. Who knows? What I do know, is I thoroughly enjoyed it, in all of the quirky, eclectic goodness that it is.

Rating: 4 stars
Pages: 352 pages
Genre: Fiction