Review: A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

Reviewed by Gwendolyn Dawson

Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Good Squad, is a collection of loosely connected short stories presented as a novel that spans decades and covers the overlapping lives of numerous characters. Each of thirteen chapters is told from the perspective of a different character, such that no single character emerges as a protagonist. In addition to jumping back and forth across various times and characters, Egan also experiments with form in these stories. The most unusual story takes the form of a PowerPoint presentation.

Egan’s self-imposed constraints are conceptually interesting, and, evaluated individually, the stories are generally well-crafted and imaginative. Overall, however, A Visit from the Goon Squad lacks narrative cohesion and doesn’t exhibit enough direction or momentum to tie the stories together. A chapter written as a 70-page PowerPoint presentation, for example, is visually striking but delivers a reading experience that feels more like an over-long business meeting than an engaging work of fiction. While Egan’s creativity and willingness to push boundaries is laudable, the uncoordinated result disappoints.

A Visit from the Goon Squad is published in the United States by Knopf.

Gwendolyn Dawson is the founder of Literary License. Her reviews appear here and there regularly.

About the Author

Gwendolyn Dawson