Jennifer Egan can use the same weapons as David Foster Wallace but being less harsh to read but not less deep on her perception of our contemporary world. In fact, she can fake the style of Wallace. The chapter “Forty-Minute Lunch” is a kind of homage to the writer. And after she seems to go as far Wallace could go on his experiments making one chapter on printed Powerpoint slides.
Both are interested in technology, pop and fiction, but if Wallace is more focused on fiction and image, in this book Egan is more focused on fiction and rock music. Egan creates a microcosm to reflect the lives of the ones who are walking on the edge of happiness. Sometimes on the wild side. Sometimes falling apart. “Fight, fight, fight”, is the motto she is whispering in our ears. I will do.
If reading Bukowski, as archetype of a loser, as reading Kerouac, as archetype of bohemian underground, you feel the autobiographical engine, on Egan you feel the creativity and audacity to fit you in the life of her characters. She gets you to wear their hard lifes, poor or rich -well, just low middle class-, happy or unhappy, but always hard. What she does about net-modernity is what they did about post-war. Like one expanded Raymond Carver.
The book finish with an emotional tribute to the invisible people, those who never will have a net profile or social media account, those who fish in contaminated rivers in the big cities, those whom no one says thanks, those who can’t stop thieving small things even when they don’t need to do it, those who hide their success to their partners, those who know how to play a slide guitar on his lap. Have you ever heard one of them? This is the sound of Egan, to read her is like be on a contemporary Woodstock, like a slide guitar playing on the Zero Zone.
No chance for beauty when your main activity is to survive. Here the ephemeral is the time. And “Time is a goon”. Jennifer Egan is an anti-hero. The perfect evolution of spleen on fight.
A visit from the Goon Squad
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc
National Book Critics Circle Award 2010
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2011