Respond to two of the following:

1) A Visit from the Goon Squad is structured as a series of interlocking short stories. Although the stories feature the same set of characters, most of whom are associated with a 1980s punk rock band, no single character appears in all the stories. The time at which each story takes place jumps around quite a bit, with some of the middle chapters being set far earlier than the opening chapters. And there are numerous flash forwards in the stories themselves. All in all, the narrative form of the book is unique. Write about your impressions of and reactions to this narrative form. What does the narrative structure allow you to see better than a traditionally structured story? What is more challenging in reading a novel in this form than in reading a more traditional novel?

2) We do not learn the meaning of the title of A Visit from the Goon Squad until the last chapter when the aged Scotty gets cold feet about going on stage, Bennie tells him, “Time is a goon, right? You gonna let that goon push you around?” The “goon squad” is time.   The book is about, among other things, what time does to people. Respond to several of the following: Who is treated justly by time? Who changes the most? Who changes the least? Whose life turns out to be the biggest surprise? If you are having trouble remembering what happened to who when, visit this page, which has a useful timeline for each major character.

3) Compare one of the characters from A Visit from the Goon Squad to a somewhat similar character from one of the other stories or novels. For instance, I might compare Lou Klein to Pete from Maggie, Girl of the Streets, Bennie to Blake from “The Five-Forty Eight,” or Sasha to Eleanor from “Physics,” or to Maggie. What are the similarities and differences in circumstances, outlook, and conduct of the characters? How many of the differences can be accounted for by personal choice, and how many by cultural and historical circumstances? Make ethical comparisons, too. Which of the characters is a better person (or in some cases, a less bad person)?