By: Rachel Lyle, July 21st, 2017
Here is another Discussion prompt from my Contemporary Lit class on a book called A Visit From the Goon Squad: For today’s (Thursday’s) post, examine the style of Goon Squad. Style is a combination of diction and syntax (word choice and word order). Too, it is about voice and mood. Style is an exploration of the author as much as it is the text. We recognize Faulkner’s style or Joyce’s style. Is there something distinctive about Egan’s style? If so, what is it? Who else writes like her? In the publishing business, one of the questions often asked to agents is: “Who would sit next to this author in a bookstore?” Who are her influences and cousins? How do you know. As always, quote the text and explore the concept in 1-2 pages.
Here is my response: I see Egan, in A Visit From The Goon Squad, having a very unique and individual style in many ways. She writes in a way that makes it seems like time doesn’t exist in the way it does in real life or the way people perceive it to occur in real life. She writes as if many different, simultaneous timelines are in existence at once rather that one single timeline being perceived from many different points of view as people usually think of time. She does this by writing each chapter in the point of view of a different character in the storyline and this makes it seem as if it is a completely different timeline from the one before it and the one after it. Another way that she utilizes that does this is the fact that she switches back and forth between first person and third person narrative and makes it feel like you are now in a different story in a different timeline, “The shame memories began early that day for Bennie, during the morning meeting, while he listened to one of his senior executives make a case for pulling the plug on Stop/Go, a sister band Bennie had signed a three-record deal a couple of years back.”, “Late at night when there’s nowhere left to go, we go to Alice’s house.” (Pgs. 37, 67). While she does this she still at the same connects the chapters making them a single timeline. Each chapter is from a different characters point of view but the order it uses is taking a side or minor character from the one chapter to narrate the next one. She also does this by taking something mentioned in one chapter and making it the topic and storyline of the next chapter. Her writing style, though unique, different, and her own, is similar in many ways to other contemporary books and contemporary authors. The way she creates multiple time lines and cuts up the timeline is similar to the way in which Everything Is Illuminated rearranges the timeline and makes it seem like many different stories being told at the same time through one narrative. It also seems like it is similar to the way in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao goes back and forth from first person to third person with multiple different narrators between the different chapters throughout the story in the book.