A Visit from the Goon Squad

I like this book. But I don’t like it as much as I thought I would. Whereas power point journal feels natural to me (because I’ve done it), “if thr r childrn, thr mst b a fUtr, rt?” feels like someone is trying too hard. I think I would have liked it more if the book ended on the page that said: “The pause makes you think the song will end. And then the song isn’t really over, so you’re relieved. But then the song does actually end, because every song ends, obviously, and THAT. TIME. THE. END. IS. FOR. REAL.”

Followed by 30 pages of white space.

I mean, when I read the first chapter where Sasha was sure that Alex would barely remember her, I knew the last chapter would be about Alex trying to find her, although what he really needs is a piece of paper that says “I BELIEVE IN YOU”. I love the structure. I do. I think the last chapter is meant to be hopeful. Hence, “if thr r childrn, thr mst b a fUtr, rt?” But the tone is too dead, as if the writer has decided long ago that the past is better than the present.

I love the Stephanie chapter because this is the chapter that introduces Jules. “Sure, everything is ending,” Jules said, “but not yet.” But Stephanie herself is too annoying (e.g. “her suspicion that there isn’t anyone worth knowing”). Is the perspective of such a character worth writing from? Given the Proust quote at the start of the book, I would say the answer is NO. But maybe she is worth knowing because she introduces Jules.

I love the Jules chapter. As we all know, time is just a side effect of quantum entanglement. Real writers that employ physics metaphors annoy me. But fictional writers can do so freely. Especially if they plan to wave at their rape victim from a distance. Wave.

I love the Mindy chapter. Feels like an essay on Hemingway.

I thought Ask Me if I Care was pitch perfect.

I love the second last chapter. You can find the slides here.

Maybe I hate the last chapter because I love the second last chapter too much. Maybe power point journal seems TSEliotish to me because I do this myself. The second last slide is entitled the persistence of pauses over time. The fact that a power point journal can be poetic confirms that today is no worse than yesterday. It’s just different.

Maybe I don’t like this book as much as I thought I would because I was expecting TSEliot. The point of reading is probably not to assess whether something is as good as TSEliot. It’s just different.

T. S. Eliot’s Little Gidding
Let me disclose the gifts reserved for age
To set a crown upon your lifetime’s effort.
First, the cold fricton of expiring sense
Without enchantment, offering no promise
But bitter tastelessness of shadow fruit
As body and soul begin to fall asunder.
Second, the conscious impotence of rage
At human folly, and the laceration
Of laughter at what ceases to amuse.
And last, the rending pain of re-enactment
Of all that you have done, and been; the shame
Of things ill done and done to others’ harm
Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
Then fools’ approval stings, and honour stains.
From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire
Where you must move in measure, like a dancer.


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