I’ve been quite the busy beaver this week. I finished reading two novels, one good, one really good.
The good one is Jennifer Egan’s highly praised A Visit from the Goon Squad. When it came out in hardcover, people exclaimed what a wonderful, astute, and remarkable collection of connected stories Egan had written. Or was it a novel? Or both? Accolades came as did the prizes. I’m not going to write a lengthy review here. I’ll just say that I thought it was good. It didn’t grab me the way it has other people I know who have read it, but I still liked it. I think it was me, not the book and I’ll stop there.
The really good book I read is a debut novel coming from Ecco Press called Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson. It’s about two boys in Vermont: Jude who was adopted by two hippies at birth, and Teddy, the son of an alcoholic mother and vanished father. They’re young punks in a small town who spend most of the time getting fucked up on anything they get their hands on. When Teddy overdoses one night, Jude moves to New York City to live with his pot-selling father where he becomes involved in the straight edge scene there. Jude becomes close to Johnny, Teddy’s older brother, a leading figure in the scene. With their new friend Eliza, Jude tried to amend the past with militant clean living, but problems arise of course. While the plot becomes more complex, the finely drawn characters keep you plugged into the book. She recreates not only a time-period but a smallish movement within it with such skill. I could quibble about the very last chapter of the book, but it didn’t detract enough for me to really care. This is a strong debut from a writer I’m going to keep my eye on.
P.S. Eleanor Henderson will be appearing at my store on June 21st. Yay!