Eluding the Goons

by Chavi

Thoughts on “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan.

In the beginning, I liked the heaven and the earth. I liked the reality she portrayed mincing little, I liked the sudden apparating from present to past and back, and from character to character. I even liked the honesty of the theme – resignation and submission to the goon squad.

The goon is time and it’s true that all of us are at its mercy so why deny it? Why color it pretty? Why not let each character start young and full of angst and dreams, and then as time passes disintegrate, be drained of life, become colorless and too tired to be angry, too full of remorse to conjure up old dreams.

One reason why not is that it isn’t true. Not that I would know considering that I’m still young, but I refuse to believe that time doesn’t also bring wisdom, depth, enlightenment, memories. I refuse to believe that all old people walk around with dead dreams inside, wishing only to be young again because what would a do over help? Where could they possibly go right if time is only a merciless thief.

Old people sigh and talk about “kids these days” and in the same conversation they make jokes about being “over the hill” at 40, dread their birthdays, laugh at the one gray hair. They laugh like a doomed captive forced to resort to lame humor in the face of a inevitable end, like they’ve already given up. Then they wonder why kids these days have no respect for their elders, don’t settle down until it’s almost too late, and spend anxious chunks of their lives counting wrinkle lines and beauty marks. If we all meet our deaths eventually why isn’t there a way to do it gracefully, instead of spending our lives running from that fact?