I did get a little cynical after reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (my bad), but the world of literature still flourishes and is beautiful because there are thought provoking books like ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’, good literature is never far behind. If you think I’m writing about Egan’s book right now because I want to save my image, you are absolutely right, it is one of the reasons. The other reason is, in one important chapter, Goon Squad talks about ‘aesthetic holocaust’ in the musical industry with piracy and lack of soul in the new creations. I somehow could also relate to this concept of ‘aesthetic holocaust’ in the book business.
Egan wrote a few short stories and sensed a thread running through them and developed them as a collection of 13. One can read the novel in the order of chapters provided by the writer or shuffle the stories, everything still makes sense, more than many coherently told tales.
Time is the goon here that is responsible for the haps in fiction as well as reality, Egan refers to that very goon and throws her characters on the landscape of her stories like dices. Shasha, once a kleptomaniac who goes through a whirlwind of a life and we see her in different roles at different times. Benny Salazar, a magnet in the music industry is more static but gets an equally full life in the novel like Shasha. There are many other characters and themes and all of them have a purpose, even when they don’t know it, the writer knows, and so does the reader.
The only thing that doesn’t seem to have a purpose but acts nevertheless is the goon, Time. One chapter is written entirely in the format of PowerPoint slides, which the medium Shasha’s daughter chooses to write her diary in. There are a lot of ‘pauses’ and a lot of space there, but somehow it communicates more than any corporate or educational ppt one would have seen in past few years.
It is a daring book that communicates anyhow, each chapter written in a different style. It is a daring book that exudes hope even when it talks of doom. It is a daring book that will need an alert mind and a willingness to think.