First edition. “I did not originally envision Goon Squad as a novel,” Egan writes, “but more as a ‘tangle’ – as I thought of it—of string. When I envisioned this ‘tangle’ my mind conjured works by Brice Marden,” images of whose work she has affixed to the front endpapers. In the extensive annotations Egan brings us deep into her creative process, telling us how she developed the interwoven, time-shifting, musical saga of Bennie and Sasha; how she struggled with the characterization and plotting. At the outset of the final chapter she writes: “I wrote this chapter fairly early, and struggled mightily with it, thinking it would have to come first in the book. When I realized it was the last chapter, I knew for the 1st time, for sure, that I had a book.” She makes biographical connections to some of the events and characters—the brilliant power point chapter was inspired by an episode in the 2008 Obama campaign. And, like so many of the writers in this auction, she discovers meanings and connections she had not known were there. Chapter 6, which introduces “Scotty” was original published in GQ and Egan’s stepfather thought it was “about Buddhist detachment. When he told me that I thought he was imposing his own agenda onto me, but now I actually think he was right.” Cathleen Schine said of Goon Squad: “With great openness of spirit, fluency, and a comic vision that balances her sharp eye for the tragic, Egan has employed every playful device of the postmodern novel with such warmth and sensitivity that the genre is transcended completely.” That same openness of spirit is evident in these extensive and revealing annotations.
EGAN, Jennifer (b. 1962). A Visit from the Goon Squad. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. 8°. Original black cloth; dust jacket.