2010 - A Visit from the Goon Squad
A readerly friend and I had a discussion recently about our mutual frustration with the trend for authors to chop up the time sequences and character points of view, shuffle them around, and call the end result a "thrill of discovery" (or something similar) for the reader. If this trend also frustrates you, I can't recommend A Visit from the Goon Squad.
What is particularly frustrating to me with this writing style is that rather than enjoying the crafting of the writing, all I can focus on are the myriad minor characters (seriously, there must be well over a hundred named characters in this book) and the seemingly insignificant plot points that may be critical to tying the story in again to a future chapter. Authors: this is not impressive! This is not a good way to prove to readers how complex your plotting is! If anything, it leaves readers confused and resentful for getting interested in the "wrong" elements of each chapter.
Stylistic issues aside, the story is compelling, especially the last few chapters where Egan sends the story into the future and predicts frightening ways in which people will interact at that time. If you are looking for books with a strong sense of both place and character, I recommend:
- My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout.
- The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.
- Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells.
Keep turning the page,