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NATIONAL BESTSELLER National Book Critics Circle Award Winner PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist A New York Times Book Review Best Book One of the Best Books of the Year: Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR's On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.
Jennifer Egan's spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an ageing 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 a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. 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, revelling in San Francisco's punk scene as he discovers his ardour 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.
Working side-by-side for a record label, former punk rocker Bennie Salazar and the passionate Sasha hide illicit secrets from one another while interacting with a motley assortment of equally troubled people from 1970s San Francisco to the post-war future. By the National Book Award-nominated author of Look at Me.
A Visit From The Goon Squad Reread by Ivan Kreilkamp
Jennifer Egan described her Pulitzer Prize–winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad as a combination of Proust and The Sopranos. In rereading the book, Ivan Kreilkamp takes Egan up on her comparison, showing how it blends a concern with the status of the novel in the twenty-first century with an elegiac meditation on how we experience the passage of time. Kreilkamp, a former music critic, examines how Egan’s characters turn to rock and especially punk in search of community and meaning. He considers what the novel’s portrayal of music says about the role of art in contemporary culture as digitization makes older technologies obsolete. Combining personal and critical reflection, he reveals how A Visit from the Goon Squad articulates and responds to the sense of loss many feel as cherished physical objects are replaced with immaterial data. For Kreilkamp, Egan’s novel compellingly combines the psychological realism of the nineteenth-century novel with more recent and transient forms such as the celebrity magazine profile or a PowerPoint presentation to provide a self-reflective diagnosis of the decay and endurance of literature. Arranged like Egan’s novel into A and B sides, this book highlights not only how A Visit from the Goon Squad speaks to our mass-media and digital present but also its page-turning pleasure.
The Keep by Jennifer Egan
Award-winning author Jennifer Egan brilliantly conjures a world from which escape is impossible and where the keep –the tower, the last stand –is both everything worth protecting and the very thing that must be surrendered in order to survive. Two cousins, irreversibly damaged by a childhood prank, reunite twenty years later to renovate a medieval castle in Eastern Europe. In an environment of extreme paranoia, cut off from the outside world, the men reenact the signal event of their youth, with even more catastrophic results. And as the full horror of their predicament unfolds, a prisoner, in jail for an unnamed crime, recounts an unforgettable story that seamlessly brings the crimes of the past and present into piercing relation. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Look At Me by Jennifer Egan
A National Book Award Finalist In this ambitiously multilayered novel from the acclaimed and award-winning writer Jennifer Egan, a fashion model named Charlotte Swenson emerges from a car accident in her Illinois hometown with her face so badly shattered that it takes eighty titanium screws to reassemble it. She returns to New York still beautiful but oddly unrecognizable, a virtual stranger in the world she once effortlessly occupied. With the surreal authority of a David Lynch, Jennifer Egan threads Charlotte’s narrative with those of other casualties of our infatuation with the image. There’s a deceptively plain teenaged girl embarking on a dangerous secret life, an alcoholic private eye, and an enigmatic stranger who changes names and accents as he prepares an apocalyptic blow against American society. As these narratives inexorably converge, Look at Me becomes a coolly mesmerizing intellectual thriller of identity and imposture.
Why China by Jennifer Egan
A Vintage Shorts “Short Story Month” Selection Sam Lafferty has hit bottom. Under investigation and on leave from the financial services firm that employed him, Sam has uprooted his wife and two daughters and dragged them against their will to central China. While on this rotten family vacation, in an alien and uncomfortable landscape, after years of deception, lousy investment, moral—and soon-coming financial—bankruptcy, and with his family in tow—Sam pursues the man who had first set him on a path to corruption from crumbling binguan hotels without soap or towels to Buddhist caves near Xi’an. In this dazzling piece, selected from the stunning collection of short fiction Emerald City, by the critically acclaimed author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award, Jennifer Egan lays bare our capacity for failure. An ebook short.
The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan
In Jennifer Egan’s highly acclaimed first novel, set in 1978, the political drama and familial tensions of the 1960s form a backdrop for the world of Phoebe O’Connor, age eighteen. Phoebe is obsessed with the memory and death of her sister Faith, a beautiful idealistic hippie who died in Italy in 1970. In order to find out the truth about Faith’s life and death, Phoebe retraces her steps from San Francisco across Europe, a quest which yields both complex and disturbing revelations about family, love, and Faith’s lost generation. This spellbinding novel introduced Egan’s remarkable ability to tie suspense with deeply insightful characters and the nuances of emotion. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The White Space Between by Ami Sands Brodoff
A family's story of the Holocaust lies buried in the soil of a graveyard in Prague, in the old neighborhoods of Montreal, in the serenity of a small New Jersey town, and in the memory of Jana -- a woman finally asked to bear witness. Far from the landscapes of her earlier life, Jana raised her daughter, Willow, on the beautiful scrapbooks she kept of her own childhood in Prague before World War II. But her stories end with the beginning of the Holocaust, and Willow knows little of her mother's life during the war and its immediate aftermath. Jana's memories of this time are so guarded that Willow is uncertain who her father is -- the answer left behind in Montreal, the city where Jana first settled after the war. When both Willow and Jana find themselves back in Montreal, the past can no longer be hidden. New loves are found and lost loves rekindled, and mother and daughter decide to journey to Prague to unearth the stories that can no longer stay buried.
Black Box by Jennifer Egan
'Close your eyes and slowly count backward from ten.' America, the near future. A young spy on a mission logs her observations. The result is an intense thriller, and a minute dissection of the experience of a woman whose beauty is also her camouflage, for whom control relies on submission: a woman whose success - whose life - depends on being seen and not seen. Originally published online via Twitter by @NYerFiction, Jennifer Egan's first new fiction since the phenomenal success of A Visit From the Goon Squad is a taut, compulsive work of unrelenting genius.