A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
A Visit from the Goon Squad tells the life stories of Bennie Salazar, a record executive, and his assistant, the kleptomaniac Sasha. In chapters that take us from the present to the past and to the future, we meet the people who influenced their lives, as well as a host of other characters that have their own stories to tell.
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
A Visit from the Goon Squad tells the life stories of Bennie Salazar, a record executive, and his assistant, the kleptomaniac Sasha. In chapters that take us from the present to the past and to the future, we meet the people who influenced their lives, as well as a host of other characters that have their own stories to tell. Bennie goes from being in a punk rock band, to a highly respected record executive and then a has-been. As people from his past resurface, he is able to break back into the music industry. Sasha has a troubled youth that continues into her adult life, but is later able to lead a somewhat normal life.
In short, this book is about sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Mixed in are stories about growing up, not growing up, trying to recapture youth, trying to recover from the damage done in youth and the evolution of the music industry.
Book Club Party Ideas from A Visit from the Goon Squad
Here are some rock n roll invitations I found at papersource.com and Amazon.com. Click on the picture for more information.
Use guitar picks to make wine tags (or martini tags, in this case). Drill a hole into the guitar pick, put wire through the hole and twist it around the stem of the glass. You can decorate them with punk rock or other musical stickers. I love the blue, black and white colors of the cover so I used these in the color scheme.
For decorations, hang records/CDs from the ceiling or light fixtures using fishing line.
Other decorations can include a bowl of candy pills served alongside a bowl of green apples, the snack of choice of Lou, Bennie’s mentor, when he was high.
On your computer, you can show the power point presentation from the novel which can be found at Jennifer Egan’s website.
There are a lot of musical references in A Visit from the Goon Squad. I have included samples of music from the Dead Kennedys for the punk rock fans out there and Blondie for those who like their music a little more subdued.
Here are some other rock ‘n roll decorations and party favors you can use for your book club party.
Book Club Menu for A Visit from the Goon Squad
In the opening scene, the kleptomaniac Sasha enjoyed a Melon Madness Martini while the wallet she had just stolen weighted down her purse. This martini is made with melon liqueur, vodka and pineapple juice.
Bennie put gold flakes in his coffee after reading in a book on Aztec medicine that gold and coffee were believed to ensure sexual potency. Yellow sugar can be used for the gold flakes.
This Guitar Cake would make the perfect dessert for a book club party for A Visit from the Goon Squad.
Scotty, one of the musicians in the novel, only eats Chinese food. Your book club menu could include these Chinese Beans and Kung Pao Chicken. For other ideas for Chinese food, visit our Asian Recipes section.
Book Club Resources for A Visit from the Goon Squad
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.66 stars (22,886 ratings)|
|Amazon: 3.5 stars (350 ratings)|
|LibraryThing: 3.84 stars (131 ratings)|
|My Rating: 4 stars. The first time I read this I would have probably given it 3 stars. The book felt disjointed and I wasn’t exactly sure what it was all about. So I decided to read it again. The second time I picked up more on the foreshadowing, and was able to read the book as a whole as opposed to a series of stories that were only somewhat related.|
Discussion Questions for A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
- What do you think the “goon” in the title represents?
- The novel jumps from character to character at different times in their lives. Do you think this added or detracted from your enjoyment of the novel? Did the story feel disconnected? Does it all come together in the end?
- Do you think the story would have been more enjoyable if it were told from the perspective of only one character? Would that have been possible in a novel like this? Which character would you choose to tell the story?
- How does American society, and in particular the music industry, change as the novel progresses?
- Some of the characters were trying to recapture their youth while others were trying to run from it. Which categories do you think Sasha and Bennie fit into? How about the other characters?
- Do you think this novel was plot or character driven? With all the different characters in the novel, do you think they were well-developed? Were there any characters that you felt were unnecessary?
- How accurate do you think the portrayal of the future is (toddlers with their own handsets, the youth no longer getting tattoos because they see what happens as you age, people sitting across from each other texting because talking wears them out)? Do you see these events already happening today?
- A Visit from the Goon Squad was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Do you think that it is deserving of this award? Are there other books you have read that you would have chosen instead?
Purchase A Visit from the Goon Squad at your favorite bookseller
Photo by Pieter M. Van Hattem/Vistalux
|Jennifer Egan is the author of The Invisible Circus, which was released as a feature film by Fine Line in 2001, Emerald City and Other Stories, Look at Me, which was nominated for the National Book Award in 2001, and the bestselling The Keep. Her new book, A Visit From the Goon Squad, a national bestseller, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize. Also a journalist, she writes frequently in the New York Times Magazine. You can visit her at her website, JenniferEgan.com|
Have you read A Visit from the Goon Squad? What did you think of it? Do you have any other ideas for recipes, decorations or anything else for a book club party for this novel? We would love to hear your ideas!
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