PPRL: A Visit From The Goon Squad (winner, 2011)

In February, I set myself the goal of reading all the Pulitzer Prize winning novels.

At the time, I was halfway through All The President's Men. But I didn't maintain any momentum, and it was too dense a story for me to set aside for more than a couple days without feeling utterly lost, whenever I tried to wade back into it. So I shelved it with a mild degree self-reproach and promised myself I'd resume reading it soon. But I never did.

Then a few days ago, I decided to begin again, but with a new plan of attack: start with the most recent selection, and work my way backwards chronologically. So on Friday night, I downloaded A Visit From The Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan. 

I actually cried when I turned the last page. Not that the story is a particularly moving one, though parts of it absolutely are. And not because the ending is sad. I was just so inspired and excited by how innovative it is. There's an entire chapter told pictorially, in simple colored graphs, from the perspective of a young girl. And it's brilliant.

Goon Squad is several stories blended, with the lightest touch, into one narrative. It's a Venn diagram, the intersections of which are more critical than simply shared relationships, or experiences, or coincidence - they are moments of emotional watershed.

Egan doesn't ask us to care equally about each of these individuals. In fact, she makes it easy to play favorites; some are vastly more lovable than others. But she pours such richness of detail and emotion into each of them - even those whose appearances last mere minutes - that it would be impossible to pull any single one out of the storyline without unraveling it.

Man, I am horribly out of practice at book reviews. I've got nothing but gushing cliche. I may as well resort to grunting monosyllables. Hopefully I'll do better on the next one: Tinkers, by Paul Harding.

In the meantime: Book good. Me like. You like, too. Yes.