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It is 2008 and Alex and Sasha are out on what will prove to be their single date. When Sasha excuses herself to use the restroom her compulsion to take things that do not belong to her overwhelms and she steals the wallet. After watching the woman come out and frantically search for the missing item, Sasha heads back to the bathroom and is discovered red-handed. She begs the woman not to say anything and she agrees. Alex and Sasha head back to her apartment which is overrun with stolen items and have. Sex.
The year is 2006 and middle-aged record executive Bennie Salazar is trying yet again to make a connection with son Chris. On this occasion, the attempt involves visiting a band called the Stop/Go sisters.
The year is 1979 and carefree teenager Bennie Salazar loves hanging out with Rhea, Jocelyn, Scottie and Alice doing the whole sex, drugs and punk rock and roll thing. Scottie has it bad for Jocelyn, but Jocelyn enters into a relationship with an man named Lou Kline that she met while hitchhiking.
The year is 1973 and Lou Kline is a middle-aged music producer in Africa on safari with his kids and girlfriend. An encounter between Charlie, the 14 year old daughter, and a young warrior briefly gives a peek into the future of 2008. Later the safari members will witness the killing of a lion. Later, another glimpse into the future reveals a sad narrative for Charlie: brief membership in a weird Mexican cult, a cocaine addiction resulting the need for facial reconstruction surgery and a history of being dominated by men.
Twenty years after first meeting him, Jocelyn visits a dying Lou at his home, tagging Rhea along. By now, Lou’s kids number six and his marriages stopped after number three. When it slips Jocelyn’s mind that his first son Rolph is dead and she inquires about him, Lou begins to cry and Jocelyne slips into into a silent simmering anger that culminates with her assertion that she should kill him right now. He responds that it is too late.
The year is 199 and Bennie is a successful enough music producer to be featured in a piece published in Spin magazine. Scottie has not enjoyed nearly the same trajectory and reads the article in a bitter mood. He goes to visit Bennie in his office, but the meeting is awkward. As he leaves, he stops and hands Bennie’s card to a couple he recognizes who are pursuing a career in music.
Over the course of 2002-2004 Bennie and his wife Stephanie take up residence in a rather conservative suburb where their rock and roll attitudes are not exactly a perfect fit. To try to better assimilate, they apply for membership and accepted into a country club. Thing go much better for Stephanie who make a friend of Kathy, but Kathy’s husband Clay insults Bennie one night a party. Bennie washes his hands of the whole country club lifestyle, but Stephanie keeps it up behind his back. Time drags on and when a washed-up rocker named Bosco arrives to inform them of his plans for a comeback tour, the lies threaten to catch up with Stephanie, but as he madly rushes to keep her life in balance, she discovers that Bennie has been lying too: he’s been having an affair with Kathy.
The year is 2008 and Dolly live in an apartment with her daughter trying to desperately to regain her footing as a hotshot NYC PR maven. At present, however, her entire client list consists of just one dictator given to indulging his genocidal tendencies. Dolly arranges for a movie star nearly as washed up as she to be photographed with the General—as he is known—but the mouthy movie star goes too far, causing the General to kidnap her and send Dolly and her daughter back home. When Dolly publishes the picture of the General and the movie star, both experience a spike in popularity.
Written in the format of a celebrity puff piece in 1999, the former kidnap victim, Kitty Jackson tells all to reporter Jules Jones. Jules is brother to Stephanie and brother-in-law to Bennie.
Sasha has a new boyfriend in 1993: Drew. Growing increasingly jealous of Drew is Rob, the boy she entered into a phony romance with to fool the detective hired by her father to follow her and find out what he was doing. Rob relates this to Drew which is news to him and also admits he regrets not sleeping with Sasha when he had the chance. One night Rob and Drew go to a club, get high and then walk down by the river where Rob tell him that Sasha’ past is not nearly as clean-cut as he thinks. Drew accuses Rob of lying and dives into the frigid water of the East River. Rob goes after, but never comes back up.
The year is 1991 and it’s been two years since Sasha ran away from home. Her uncle Ted has traveled to Naples to track down her down. When he finds her, she’s got a limp, slash marks across her wrist and the ability to pick his wallet from his pocket without him even realizing it.
In the year 2025, Sasha and Drew’s 12-year-old daughter Allison has created a PowerPoint presentation that reveal that Drew is a doctor, that she has an autistic brother a year older and that the house is filled with tension whenever both mother and father are home which is not often because Drew prefer to stay at work for as long as possible.
About two years before Allison will create her PowerPoint, 60-ish Bennie Salazar is sitting in the living with a man named Alex who is struggling to remember the name of a girl from whom he first heard of Bennie; all he can recall is that on their one and only date there was some confusion about a stolen wallet or something. Later they go to a concert and after finally getting Scottie to take the stage, Alex watches the performance almost lost in a trance. When Alex finally recalls that the girl’s name was Sasha and he and Bennie walk to the apartment where they wound up after that date. Sasha doesn’t live there anymore.
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Throughout Egan’s entire book, A Visit from the Goon Squad, there are shifts at the beginning of each chapter. Each time the reader flips the page to a new chapter they are greeted with an almost brand new story. Throughout the paper "Structurally Sound - A Look into the Form of the Book: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan" the reader will explore how Egan experimented with the form of her book in order to reflect her themes with more power. Her readers will find this through shifts in characters, perspectives, settings, and narrative styles throughout the book. In every chapter, there is a new twist, taking the reader on a different journey.
"Facing the Goon: Understanding the Role of Time in A Visit from the Goon Squad explores Jennifer Egan's use of time in the novel. Looking specifically at the anachronic order of the stories and Egan's personification of time, this essay strives to understand how these aspects work towards the novel as a whole. Egan uses these ideas to help readers deal with time passing in their own lives.
"Will You Still Love Me When I'm No Longer Young and Beautiful?" is an essay that explores how and why American culture has become so obsessed with youth. It looks at the way in which Egan uses the entertainment industry to illustrate how people distract themselves with pop culture and ties it into the phenomenon of nostalgia. This essay discusses how there is so much value later in life and that youth is not everything. Success and happiness can be achieved at any given age.
Growing up, children's most influential role models are typically their parents. This is no different for the characters in Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad. In "A Parental Visit From the Goon Squad", the relationships between children and their parents, specifically children with divorced parents or who come from nontraditional homes, are analyzed. Egan offers her readers hope through her characters that not all is lost for children raised broken homes, despite the negative association Americans place on them, and that a person is not defined by their past.
Jennifer Egan’s novel A Visit From the Goon Squad relays the message that no matter what we do, time marches on. "Dirtied Hands: A Look at Time and Change in A Visit From the Goon Squad"looks at Egan’s novel through a new critical theory lens allowed for a close reading of Egan’s characters and themes. In the novel Egan shows the themes of the passage of time and the trends of change through popular culture and the music industry, new technology, and the September 11th tragedy. America’s youth has passed it by, and the nation has lost its innocence just as the characters in Egan’s novel have lost theirs.
In "The Dystopian Future in A Visit from the Goon Squad," an analysis is done of the future that reveals subtle and chilling notes of a dystopian world. Thorough review of the text reveals a systematic breakdown of societal progress and the negative connotations that come with them. Particular focus is paid to the final two chapters, as well as the short story published later by Egan to continue the plotline into the future, “Black Box.” Through a series of interviews with Jennifer Egan and a brief review on technology proliferation, research is done to determine the overall message the future in A Visit from the Goon Squad attempts to convey.
"Negative Experiences and Emotional Scars: Things that Can't be Stolen" discusses the connection between unhealthy connections to the past and how that connection manifests itself in the present. This essay exclusively covers Sasha, and how the disappearance of her dad leads to her developing kleptomania. From start to finish, Sasha's past is discussed in relation to her present actions, especially her decision to steal and suppress emotions.
The purpose of this essay is to explore how those characters, defeated by time’s complexity, deal with their life dilemmas by unconsciously using defense mechanisms, the nature of their internal fear that make them do so, and what is the consequence to their life in terms of the magical power of coping mechanisms.
"Psychoanalytic Theory and Emotions" explores the relationship between emotions and lessons learned from ill events. Why linger on the past or traumatic events when there is growth and a lesson to be learned from such events? Through Jocelyn and Sasha’s stories, traumatic events and the emotions that pursue them, are analyzed in terms of how they affect the character and how to grow from them and move on towards normality.
Symbolism is found in a wide variety of literature, including A Visit From the Goon Squad. Egan’s symbol of choice in this book is color, specifically yellow and darker tones. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow: The Significance of Color in A Visit From the Goon Squad" explores how and why Egan uses specific colors to augment the book’s themes as well as how this symbolism contributes to the story arc as a whole.
This close-reading and reader response interpretation of Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad examines the novel's theme of the passage of time, more specifically the effect of time on one's perspective and intelligence. Much attention is paid to the idea of self-teaching and authenticity as a way to a more fulfilling life as well as the validity of life experience as a form of education.
Alexandra Lopez Vera
This essay, entitled "Been There, Done That: An Author’s Struggle for Individuality through Postmodernity," is an analysis upon Egan’s pursuit of individuality under the light of Freudian theories, thorough appraisal and Egan’s youth meandering experiences throughout thirteen overlapping and twisting stories from mainstream works to outstanding worship related book.
This essay explores the relationship between authenticity and identity in A Visit from the Goon Squad. A psychoanalytic approach is taken to discover the importance of acceptance of self. Along the way, concepts of “pastness,” value, stigma, perception, and insecurity are related to the character’s journeys of achieving authentic identities.
Veronica Powell Hughes
"Jocelyn's Journey from Nostalgia into the Progression of Time" is about how hope is revealed to the audience for Jocelyn as a recovering drug addict. It talks about how this transformation happens through her relationships with other characters in “You (Plural)” as well as through a personal reflection of herself. Through her coming to peace with her issues, it gives the readers hope about her life, as this is her last exit of the story.
It is important to know the kind of effects past experiences have on characters’ minds, behaviors, and decisions. In the book A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan is able to show how important it is to let go of the past through the character Sasha. Even though Sasha was able to overcome many of the obstacles in her life, the journey was not easy. This paper explores how holding onto the past can have a negative psychological effect on one’s mind, and how that effect can make a person behave in a dysfunctional manner.