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Reader's Den: A Visit from the Goon Squad - Week 4
Well, here we are past the end of April and that means it's my final post for A Visit from the Goon Squad.
Even though the Reader's Den will be moving on to a new book in May, you can always read previous posts and comment on them.
My perception of Time is that it passes by while I'm worrying about what I have to do next and then before I know it, it's gone. It's difficult to stay focused on the present, but I am making an effort to force myself to stop and be in the moment. It's cliche but sometimes it just means I acknowledge my happiness at the sight of the pink flowers that bloom on the trees on my block. I'm not even sure what they are... dogwoods maybe?
I did not necessarily relate to the characters in terms of their specific life experiences, but I felt connected to them nonetheless. Some readers posted online reviews with charts and diagrams to help keep track of how and when each of the characters intersected but that aspect of the book didn't appeal to me. What struck a chord with me was the range of emotion the characters displayed. Love, sadness, confusion, bitterness, shame, pride, hope, forgiveness—it's all there. Another book I enjoyed with loosely connected characters was The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman.
I was intrigued by the PowerPoint chapter. Was it just a gimmick or a clever technique? I'm leaning toward clever. The technique conveyed a couple of ideas to me.
It's much harder to describe a concept using very few words. I took an open book exam in college where we could use no more than two lines to answer each question. It sounds easier than it was.
Sometimes a change in perspective can make all the difference in understanding something. That's how I felt reading the Power Point chapter. Egan's ability to capture the essence of a complicated father-son relationship with one flowchart reminded me that sometimes less is more, or at least enough.
That idea surfaced again in the final chapter where we meet many of the characters again in a not-too-distant future setting. "Lulu was in her early twenties, a graduate student at Barnard and Bennie's full-time assistant: a living embodiment of the new "handset employee": paperless, deskless, commuteless, and theoretically omnipresent..." (p. 257).
While the idea of using handsets to communicate during face-to-face encounters might be troubling, the conventions of the handset language, e.g. using a capital letter to denote a long vowel sound, were interesting from a linguistics perspective.
Did you have a favorite character or a favorite chapter?