Jennifer Egan’s experimental and brilliant book, A Visit From the Goon Squad came out in 2010. I hesitate to call it a novel – although it was marketed as one – because it seems to lie half way between a novel and a collection of short stories. I would probably call it a collection of interconnected short stories – but I suppose if Egan had called it that, perhaps less people would have bought it. And I’m not going to complain about anything that made more people read this book, because it’s strangely and thoroughly brilliant.
In the first story of the book, we meet Sasha, PA to the CEO of a record company, with an obsessive addiction to stealing. In the second we meet Bennie, Sasha’s boss. In the third we meet Rhea, a friend of Bennie’s from his days of teenager punk rock. In the fourth we meet Charlie, daughter of Lou, who is the boyfriend of an old friend of Rhea’s. And so on and so on. Each story is linked in some way to a character we’ve met or heard of before, often in the previous story. Sasha and Bennie crop up more than the rest, and threads of families and connections weave through these stories in the most incredibly exciting way.