I saw this book all over the place for months. It was in the window of every bookstore and on display at the airport , but I never picked it up because I was thinking, "another book about music journalism? Pass!" and "I've already read Nick Hornby. I get it." But then I saw DAP recommend AVFTGS on Twitter. I just went back tothis Twitter feed to find the exact tweet and I could only find this:
DAP99 Jennifer Egan's "Look at Me" is beautifully written, elegantly constructed, and unsettlingly, hauntingly prescient.
So maybe DAP never recommended AVFTGS and I got the two Egan novels confused or maybe I just can't find the tweet. Anyway, I thought one of our friends liked it and this is one of the reasons I read the book.
I loved it. The novel is actually a collection of related short stories. We follow a community of people somehow involved with or touched by the punk rock music scene over 30 years or so. Every chapter (short story) is from a different character's point of view and written in a different style/tone. I really hate spoilers, so I'm not going to say anything else about the characters, but if you want a more detailed review, email me and I'll tell you.
I will say every voice felt completely unique - it's a real testament to Egan's talent for character development - kind of like a performer rattling off twenty impressions in a row. There's no "you can skip that one" chapter in my opinion. The major theme is time - how we change over time and how our lives have progressed from adolescence to adulthood. Pretty classic stuff, but Egan allows us to see the characters as they see themselves (in their own chapters), but also from the viewpoints of the other characters around them. For example, in the first chapter, we meet a music assistant who describes her middle-aged boss who is weird and kind of obsessive. Later we meet that boss and realize why he's a weirdo. If you've ever wondered how people see you or if someone knows he or she is a complete asshole or weirdo, this book tackles those questions within this extended community of people.
I think everyone should read A Visit From The Goon Squad immediately.