Just finished Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad, from which the title for this post comes. I had been putting off inevitable turning of the last few pages as much as possible-- suddenly the work-reading I'm doing on my Kindle was a means to avoiding the end of this transcendent work of fiction.
You: Transcendent... really? Is that hyperbole?
Me: No. At least not for me.
I chose a perfect sun-dappled rock along a river for my final reading spot. I had just spent 25 minutes swimming against the current, and 5 minutes returning to my point of origin, and I felt that somehow that experience was the perfect preparation. Reading this book has felt like coming home. An abstract home yes, but a home nonetheless. She so elegantly weaves together so many of the ideas I've been obsessed with for as long as I can remember-- and is as inventive with her medium (using powerpoint and text messages at points to help tell the story)-- it is no surprise the book won the Pulitzer. It has also been refreshing for me for other reasons. The book I was reading was an actual book which I purchased in an actual independent bookseller in lenox, massachusetts. She is a writer whose stories I've loved to run away with since I was 17, and this was my August reading-- a tradition I've savored since I was lugging 10 picture books home from the local library to spend the summer with.
The book, like almost all of my favorite forms of art, weaves together a polyphony of characters and relationships in the most surreptitious way.
Tangent: Ms. Sydelle Gomberg taught my ballet class the word in 1988 and I will never forget it. She wanted us to move our arms, to do our ports de bras, like we were gently pulling a twig through the water, making figure 8s with it, letting the buds at the end of the branch form 'S's, and do our best not to disturb the rest of the water. I liked that metaphor then and now.
It deals with the struggle between youth/innocence and age/knowledge/corruption as well as how curiosity and adventure can be both excellent and dangerous. It raises a ton of brilliant questions about technology, the 'information age,' sound versus music, and silence. It also got me thinking a lot about aging, and change and what change means at different points in a person's life. I kind of want to read it all over again.
Also, I saw Another Earth a few weeks ago and loved that too. Bravo to Mike Cahill and Brit Marling and the 2 or so other people involved. Yay for books, plays and movies that are tackling the metaphysical while also being really accessible and entertaining.