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A Visit from the Goon Squad Audiobook, by Jennifer Egan Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Jennifer Egan Narrator: Roxana Ortega Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2019 ISBN: 9780593151518
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (70,832 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.

We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from the city’s demimonde and experiences an epiphany of his own while staring at a sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Museo Nazionale. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life—divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed-up band in the basement of a suburban house—and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang—who thrived and who faltered—and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far-flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.

A Visit from the Goon Squad
is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to PowerPoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both—and escape the merciless progress of time—in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • For all its postmodern flourishes, Goon Squad is as traditional as a Dickens novel. . . . Her aim is not so much to explode traditional storytelling as to explore how it responds to the pressures and opportunities of the digital age. Egan herself does not appear to be on Facebook, but A Visit From the Goon Squad will likely make her many new friends. Jennie Yabroff, Newsweek
  • [A] slamming multi-generational San Francisco family saga. Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair
  • Frequently dazzling. . . . Egan’s expert flaying of human foibles has the compulsive allure of poking at a sore tooth: excruciating but exhilarating too. A- Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
  • Remarkable . . . A finely braided meditation on time, memory, pop culture, and the perils of growing up in America. Paul Vidich, Narrative Magazine
  • Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad is a singular work of fiction in both senses of the word. It’s as if the author has taken an epic novel covering five decades and expertly filleted it, casting aside excess characters and years to come away with a narrative that is wide-ranging but remarkably focused. . . . Vibrant and winning. . . . While this is occasionally a wistful book, it isn’t’ sad. Each narrative disorientation and subsequent reorientation reminds us of how we weave in and out of one another’s lives, staying connected through memory—our shield against the goon squad. By the time we get to the last page of Egan’s book . . . we’re left wanting more. Marty Pols, Time
  • Well-defined characters and an engaging narrative. . . . Readers will enjoy seeing the disparate elements of this novel come full circle. Gwen Vredevoogd, Library Journal

  • The star-crossed marriage of lucid prose and expertly deployed postmodern switcheroos that helped shoot Egan to the top of the genre bending new school is alive and well in this graceful yet wild novel . . . powerful. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • Egan is a writer of cunning subtlety, embedding within the risky endeavors of seductively complicated characters a curious bending of time . . . a hilarious melancholy, enrapturing, unnerving, and piercingly beautiful mosaic of a novel. Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
  • Poetry and pathos . . . Egan conveys personality so swiftly and with such empathy. . . . Yet she is not a conventional dystopian novelist; distinctions between the virtual and the real may be breaking down in this world, but her characters have recognizable emotions and convictions, which is why their compromises and uncertainties continue to move us. . . . Another ambitious change of pace from talented and visionary Egan, who reinvents the novel for the 21st century while affirming its historic values.
    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
     
  • Forget what literati the world over say about the demise of the “big” novel, the kind that patiently threads its way through the tangled knot of humankind’s shared urges, fears, frailties and joys. A Visit from the Goon Squad admittedly cannot be described either as a novel or a collection of short stories, but it is a great work of fiction, a profound and glorious exploration of the fullness and complexity of the human condition. . . . An extraordinary new work of fiction. Rayyan Al-Shawaf, The New York Press
  • Poignant. . . . A nice reminder that even in the age of Kindles and Facebook, ambitious fiction is still one of the best tools available to help us understand the rapidly changing world. . . . Her startling, apocalyptic take on the near future is all the more chilling for its utter plausibility, and brings the realization that Egan was up to much more here than just trying to reinvent the novel's format. You’ll want to recommend it to all your Facebook friends. Patrick Condon, Associated Press
  • [Egan is] a boldly intellectual writer who is not afraid to apply her equally powerful intuitive skills to her ambitious projects. . . . While it’s a time-trekking, tech-freakin’ doozie, the characters’ lives and fates claim the story first and foremost, and we are pulled right in. . . . Brilliantly structured, with storylike chapters. Lisa Shea, Elle
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad [is] an exhilarating, big-hearted, three-headed beast of a story. . . . [A] genius as a writer. . . . We see ourselves in all of Egan’s characters because their stories of heartbreak and redemption seem so real they could be our own, regardless of the soundtrack. Such is the stuff great novels are made of. Kimberly Cutter, Marie-Claire
  • Wildly ambitious. . . . A tour de force. . . . Music is both subject and metaphor as Egan explores the mutability of time, destiny, and individual accountability post-technology. Liza Nelson, O, The Oprah Magazine
  • Grounded in the passions and frustrations of a record producer and his nervy assistant, Jennifer Egan’s bravura fifth book, A Visit from the Goon Squad, samples from different eras (the glory days of punk; a slick, socially networked future) and styles (sly satire, moving tragedy, even PowerPoint) to explore the interplay between music and the rough rhythms of life. Megan O’Grady, Vogue
  • In her audacious, extraordinary fourth novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan uses the pop-music business as a prism to examine the heedless pace of modern life, generational impasses, and the awful gravity of age and entropy. . . . A Visit from the Goon Squad is fascinating for its daring scope and fractured narrative, but along the way, Egan crafts some brilliant scenes. . . . A rich and rewarding novel. David Hiltbrand, Philadelphia Inquierer
  • Expect to inhale Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad. Then expect it to lodge in your cranium and your breastbone a good long while. I expect this brilliant, inventive novel to become enshrined. Such rash speculation is foolish, I know—we live amid a plague of bloated praise. But A Visit From the Goon Squad is emboldening. It cracks the world open afresh . . . Would that Marcel Proust could receive A Visit From the Goon Squad. It would blow his considerable mind. Karen R. Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • Jennifer Egan has accomplished the tricky feat of using metafiction techniques without sacrificing old-fashioned story-telling. . . . A Visit from the Goon Squad has a circuitous structure that seems almost designed for our Internet rewired brains. Steven Kurutz, The Wall Street Journal
  • Clever. Edgy. Groundbreaking. . . . For all of its cool, languid, arched-eyebrow sophistication—that’s the part that will make you think ‘Didion and for all of the glitteringly gorgeous sentences that flit through its pages like exotic fish—that’s the DeLillo part—the novel is actually a sturdy, robust, old-fashioned affair. It features characters about whom you come to care deeply as you watch them doing things they shouldn't, acting gloriously, infuriatingly human.
  • Jennifer Egan is a rare bird: an experimental writer with a deep commitment to character, whose fiction is at once intellectually stimulating and moving. . . . It’s a tricky book, but in the best way. When I got to the end, I wanted to start from the top again immediately, both to revisit the characters and to understand better how the pieces fit together. Like a masterful album, this one demands a replay. Malena Watrous, The San Francisco Chronicle
  • [A] spiky, shape-shifting new book. . . . A display of Ms. Egan’s extreme virtuosity. Janet Maslin, The New York Times
     
  • It may be the smartest book you can get your hands on this summer. Carolyn Kellogg, The Los Angeles Times
  • If Jennifer Egan is our reward for living through the self-conscious gimmicks and ironic claptrap of postmodernism, then it was all worthwhile. . . . A deeply humane story about growing up and growing old in a culture corroded by technology and marketing. . . . [A] triumph of technical bravado and tender sympathy. . . . Here, in ways that surprise and delight again, she transcends slick boomer nostalgia and offers a testament to the redemptive power of raw emotion in an age of synthetic sound and glossy avatars. Turn up the music, skip the college reunion and curl up with The Goon Squad instead. Ron Charles, The Washington Post
  • “Pitch perfect. . . . Is there anything Egan can’t do in this mash-up of forms? Write successfully in the second person? Check. Parody celebrity journalism and David Foster Wallace at the same time? Check. Make a moving narrative out of a PowerPoint presentation? Check. . . . Although shredded with loss, A Visit From the Goon Squad is often darkly, rippingly funny. Egan possesses a satirist’s eye and a romance novelist’s heart. . . . No one is beyond the pale of her affection; no one is spared lampooning. . . . For a book so relentlessly savvy about the digital age and its effect on how we experience time (speeded up, herky-jerky, instantaneous, but also full of unbearable gaps and pauses), A Visit From the Goon Squad is remarkably old-fashioned in its obsession with time’s effects on characters, that preoccupation of those doorstop 19th-century novels. Will Blythe, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 CëRïSë | 2/17/2014

    " Perhaps it was that I read this immediately after Cloud Atlas, having picked it up on a whim at my sister's house, but it felt very satisfying to me. It, too, tells the stories of many different people through different voices, and covers a broad chronological range (though not as broad as the latter!)--but does so more successfully. I enjoyed the flawed but interesting characters and the way their lives tangled together and influenced each other. It was funny, charming, very smart, and yet a quick and thoroughly enjoyable read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 David | 2/12/2014

    " The structure of the book was great each chapter linking to a new characters point of view from the previous chapter. The book was flat. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ginny | 1/24/2014

    " This was the January book club selection. I didn't like the the characters at all or the way the book jumped around between them. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Cha-Ling | 1/23/2014

    " I tried but could not finish this book. It was trying to hard to be hip and cool but couldn't pull it off. Finally gave up and added book to Goodwill pile. If I could rate it as less than half a star, I would. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gwinn | 1/15/2014

    " Great 90s period book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicola | 1/9/2014

    " At first I found it really difficult to get into this book properly. The narrative technique of bouncing around between different and sometimes tangentially connected viewpoints was confusing and ineffective. About midway through the book it all started coming together and I began to enjoy the perceptive character analysis that Egan employs so masterfully. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys modern-day fiction. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lester | 1/7/2014

    " I get it. Technically innovative. And I'm quickly going through it again because I didn't really pick up on it until I was 170 pages in. But I still didn't really feel the characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alex | 1/3/2014

    " Beautiful book. I love the writing style- eclectic and evocative. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erik | 12/9/2013

    " Great book. I love the changing point of view, and the characters are amazing, even in the short time you get to be with them. There are places in this book that made my heart skip. Also some that I sort of glossed over, but still.. GREAT book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mindi | 12/3/2013

    " Book club book #16. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Paula | 11/18/2013

    " saw this on the tv book club - thought I would give it a go but couldnt even finish it! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Batfacegirl | 9/4/2013

    " Overrated and gimmicky. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Darcy | 6/29/2013

    " Why did this win the Pulitzer?!? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leilani | 6/6/2013

    " I super enjoyed this book. Not all the chapters but many were pretty amazing. My favorites were the safari story, the one with Rob who died while swimming, and the one where the uncle finds Sasha. The part where the sun drops into the wire circle: breathtaking! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tommy | 12/1/2012

    " Time is a goon. Elucidating the effects age and maturation have on our lives, A Visit From the Goon Squad provides an insightful, poignant and surprisingly novel presentation of life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ted | 11/27/2012

    " "Goon Squad" is a song I like by Elvis Costello. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Charlott | 7/23/2012

    " I don't care about those people. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stefanie | 5/11/2012

    " Okay. It's the second book as of late with a series of loosely connected short stories, so it takes some getting used to, but it was pretty good all together. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Danny | 4/25/2012

    " Quick read. Some interesting characters and page-turning plot lines, but overall not mind blowing in any regard. That said, Egan does have a strong knack for connecting her sad/depressed/problematic characters to the reader. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 5/23/2011

    " I completely fell in love with this book. The only downside is not being able to spend more time with the characters Ms. Egan has created. Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 5/23/2011

    " You have to pay attention because the narrator changes from character to character and Egan switches timeframes. Seemingly disparate characters become connected. And an era becomes defined, characters' choices are usually not so good, the angst of the 60's and beyond is excellently portrayed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melinda | 5/22/2011

    " This book reads much more like a collection of short stories than a novel. There were some chapters I LOVED (Dolly's trip to Africa...one of the BEST!), while others were so-so. Most of the chapters, though, kept you fully engaged and I couldn't wait to get back to it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gene | 5/21/2011

    " An intricately-constructed, resonant, and dreamlike read, about believable people in real places and times (even when stepping into the future). Very impressive and immersive. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 5/21/2011

    " best book I've read so far in 2011 "

About the Author

Jennifer Egan is the author of several books of fiction, including A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer Prize and National Books Critics Circle Award; The Keep, a national bestseller; the story collection Emerald City; Look at Me, a National Book Award Finalist; and The Invisible Circus, which was adapted into a major motion picture starring Cameron Diaz. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, McSweeney’s, the New York Times Magazine, and many others.

About the Narrator

Roxana Ortega is a narrator, actress, and comedian based in Los Angeles. She studied at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and first began performing in the Bay Area. She has appeared in supporting roles in numerous films, including Evan Almighty and Miss Congeniality 2. Her television credits include Samantha Who, The Shield, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Crossing Jordan, and Journeyman.