Jennifer Egan's spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist's couch in New York City, confronting her longstanding compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life - divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed up band in the basement of a suburban house - and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco's punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang - who thrived and who faltered - and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie's catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou's far flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall. "A Visit from the Goon Squad" is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to Powerpoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and, the universal tendency to reach for both - and escape the merciless progress of time - in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.
About the Author
Jennifer Egan is the author of The Keep, Look at Me, The Invisible Circus, and the story collection Emerald City. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, GQ, Zoetrope, All-Story, and Ploughshares, and her nonfiction appears frequently in The New York Times Magazine. She lives with her husband and sons in Brooklyn.
A brilliantly entertaining novel about memory, time, art and how humans connect at every level.
"Pitch perfect. . . . Darkly, rippingly funny. . . . Egan possesses a satirist's eye and a romance novelist's heart." --"The New York Times Book Review" "At once intellectually stimulating and moving. . . . Like a masterful album, this one demands a replay." --"The San Francisco Chronicle" "A new classic of American fiction." --"Time" "Audacious, extraordinary." --"Philadelphia Inquirer" "A spiky, shape-shifting new book. . . . A display of Egan's extreme virtuosity." --"The New York Times" "Wildly ambitious. . . . A tour de force. . . . Music is both subject and metaphor as Egan explores the mutability of time, destiny, and individual accountability post-technology." --"O, The Oprah Magazine" "The smartest book you can get your hands on." --"Los Angeles Times" "A rich and unforgettable novel about decay and endurance, about individuals in a world as it changes around them. . . . [Egan] is one of the most talen
Sorry Martin, this wannabe "Titanic" didn't do a thing for me...
I don't want to say this is simply a film for the masses about the masses but that's the way it turned out: a big fat mass of masses for masses.
That said, without spending too much time, I belive the film fails honestly because Scorcese is attached to it.
If this was a film made by any unknown director or some greenhorn, I would have no choice but to applaud the effort as the EFFORT is tremendous. But, when you look at the body of work and more importantly the intelligence and multi-level approach of Scorcese's other films, this film completely fails in comparison.
Somewhere along the way this film was butchered, (pun intended) whether it was by the studio, by Scorcese, or by the batch of writers who's conflicting visions and machismo keep bobbing up and down throughout the story. I believe Scorcese (or the studio) tried too hard to make a film for "today's (young) audience" instead of just making (or letting Scorcese make) a Scorcese film. Sure, perhaps many of today's brainwashed and dumbed down proles might not get it, but the film would have entertained the large following this director has cultivated over his many years behind the camera. If the only story he wanted to tell was a nobody wins revenge tale without redemption, flanked by an extremely shallow and cookie-cutter romance, then why waste all the time and money with 1860's New York? Whether or not Martin is actually washed up or still possesses his own magical abilities with a camera I cannot say, but it seems that whatever his original vision was, someone went through it (violently) with a cleaver.
It's interesting though, as a comparison, the actual base human story of "Titanic" has the same cookie-cutter romance elements as "Gangs" yet it is crystal clear that the FOCUS of "Titanic" is on an IMMACULATE portrayal of both the ship itself, the passengers, and the events that took place -- an accurate portrayal of history is the most important factor. "Gangs" does not present that same sharp and exacting historical focus to any degree, instead bits of chopped up pseudo history and gruesome violence are thrown around for a bit color in an otherwise monochromatic, by the books, and boring love story.
Bottom line: I can hear this bomb falling right now... Half my theatre left after the 2 hour mark, some before, and that was on opening night.
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