From book flap:
Jennifer Egan's spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.
We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist's couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments for her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from the city's demimonde and experiences an epiphany of his own while staring at a sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Museo Nazionale. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life - divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed-up band in the basement of a suburban house - and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco's punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang - who thrived and who faltered - and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie's catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou's far-flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.
This book is epic!! I absolutely understand why Egan won the Pulitzer for fiction - how could she not? The book is just that damn good. Honestly, I don't even want to discuss the book, because I want you to read it and see for yourself just how excellent it really is. So, instead I'm just going to highlight a few bits and bobs and then let you decide if you are going to give it a read and hopefully fall in love with it like I did.
"Time's a goon, right?"
Most definitely. Time is the biggest goon of all (its part of the goon squad). What's the goon squad? Well, its basically a metaphor Egan uses to show the ways in which life's obstacles and forces can demolish or catapult a person within their lives. And lets just say, those goons are made very apparent as we dive into this fantastic book and get immersed in the lives of its two main protagonists, Bennie and Sasha.
Spanning 50 years, this brilliantly written novel takes us on a trip through the lives of two very different people whose personal stories connect and disconnect in a variety of ways. Egan has constructed a book that is made up of several narratives that are linked together by multiple thematic threads: time, technology, and music. Truthfully each separate narrative could stand on its own as a short story, because they are just so engaging and you can't help but get caught up in the lives of these peripheral characters. Not only are they tantamount in impacting both Bennie and Sasha throughout their lives, but they are also interesting, complex and relatable - you can't help but want to hear more about some of them. Egan does a terrific job of bringing all of these characters together in such a way that helps to enrich the story and elevate it to another level.
Plus, the vivid descriptions of the cities, music, clothes and atmosphere provide crystal clear images of the various time periods we visit throughout the book. You begin to feel as if you are being transported both backward and forward in time. Its actually quite a trip. From jamming out to punk rock music with Bennie to finding Sasha in Italy, you definitely find yourself immersed in all sorts of situations with all kinds of people. Egan has written such a brilliant book brimming with depth and intelligence, that you will be left thinking about it long after you've turned that last page. This is a book that I highly recommend to everyone - it is definitely a must read!