Late-Summer Reads: A Visit from the Goon Squad and The Imperfectionists

9 Aug

I used to dislike collections of stories, preferring instead to immerse myself in orderly, chronological novels. But recently I’ve come to love literary snippets that interweave a common cast of characters. Two books that do it well: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and Tom Rachmann’s debut The Imperfectionists.

Goon Squad is set on both coasts of the U.S. and spans many years—including the post-punk ’80s. Music is the backdrop; themes include the quick passage of time and mistakes and missteps. Imperfectionists revolves around a fictional English-language newspaper in Rome, also spanning several generations and the characters’ lost loves and selves. You don’t need a journalism background to feel nostalgia for dying dailies and the reporters and editors who ran them.

With short chapters, easy-to-digest storylines and lovably flawed characters, these perfect beach reads are FAR from chick-lit.

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