Some thoughts on Jennifer Egan

For those of you who are unaware of Jennifer Egan, she is a wonderful American writer. I hadn’t hear of her either, until her latest novel A Visit from the Goon Squad won the Tournament of Books last year. (It also won the Pulitzer but then Geraldine Brooks also won the Pullitzer so I value the ToB win more highly.)

I loved Goon Squad a lot. I recommended it to pretty much everyone who walked into the shop in December and EVERY BODY LOVED IT. (Disclaimer: that may be an exaggeration, but a huge number of people came back in and told me they loved it and bought copies for friends. I only had one person come back and say they didn’t like it that much.) If I haven’t already recommended it to you, let me tell you about it. It’s a series of interconnected stories centred around Benny and Sasha who are record label people. There are stories from them, stories from people who are close to them, people who used to be in their lives, and some from people who you can’t figure out how they connected for ages. (That sentence sounds wrong. Thoughts?) Together the stories build up a picture of their lives from 1970s punk bands through success and the trouble it brings into musings on the near future of music. It’s a broad picture of time and people and music and failure and ultimately, for me, hope. It’s funny and sardonic and witty and quirky and beautifully constructed. You should read it.

I’m thinking about Goon Squad today because we just received some copies of Egan’s novel-before-last, Look at Me, eleven years after it was first published in America. I am looking forward to reading it, although in a recent interview Egan recommended reading her novels in reverse order so I’m going to reed The Keep first.

Here’s a fun fact: you couldn’t get any Jennifer Egan books published in Australia until after she found success with Goon Squad. I feel like Australian publishing is very conservative, as evidenced by the SEVEN oversubscribed print runs of The Street Sweeper that Random had to put out, and I’m still not sure if they’re too worried to do a bigger run. Anyway these are some thoughts that I am having on a Wednesday. I hope you’re having a lovely day and reading some exciting books.


Fay (the least crazy member of the Sunflower blogging team)



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