Upon completing my read of Jennifer Egan’s book A Visit from the Goon Squad, I begged my husband, “Please, please, please make the next book you read this one. I need to talk with someone about it!” He did as I asked, and we have now discussed it. I needed his opinion, because I knew I’d only gotten from the book what I could get from it, and it felt like every reader would probably have a different take-away.
In the recent First Reunion of the Stonecoast Class, someone asked the instructor and me (I think we were the only two who had read the book by that time) what the Goon Squad book was about. I declined to share my conclusion because I didn’t believe it was the correct or only conclusion, and I didn’t want to ruin the reading experience for others. I’d have been happy to share my thinking if everyone had read it, but that wasn’t the case. On the other hand, Lily, the instructor, was able to bring words to it that didn’t give anything away. (That’s why she’s the instructor.)
I feel much better about my feelings of inadequacy after reading this quotation from Bryan Basamanowicz: “[T]he narrative intelligences of our books should leave us feeling a bit pressed intellectually, a bit outmatched, amazed ultimately by the talent of the author who brought such an exquisite intelligence to life.” (Bryan Basamanowicz in article “From the Library of Your Soul-Mate: The Unique Social Bond of Literature”)
Hubby and I did, in fact, end up with similar takes on the book, with our own nuances. I still think it’s a book I’d like to read again someday; I’m curious to discover the way Egan used each chapter to pave the way to her main idea.
What was a book that left you wondering if you had really gotten the author’s intended message?