Free «"A Visit from the Goon Squad"» UK Essay Sample

A Visit from the Goon Squad is a novel written by Jennifer Egan, which reflects on the modern life of people and still on the traditional side of life. It has won National book critics circle and Pultiterzer prize awards for fiction; and this shows that the book has many lessons that can make people take life in another perception and change from their normal lives. The novel has many short stories but was termed as a novel rather than a selection of short stories. There are many aspects which make people perceive life from the other perspective, because many characters in the stories do things which are uncomfortably strange or uncomfortably familiar. The uncanny as a psychoanalytic aspect is found in the novel repeating itself from one chapter to another.

The Uncanny

Sigmund Freud has explained the psychoanalytic concept of uncanny, and in this novel there are many aspects in which people portray the theory. Freud described uncanny as something that becomes familiar and at the same time is foreign, which leads people to have uncomfortable strange or uncomfortable familiar feeling. It creates a cognitive dissonance among the individual experiencing it, which in the end makes a person completely reject it, because it is easier to reject than to rationalize. When something becomes strange and at the same time familiar, people reject it, because they cannot move on with things of which they do not have confidence and do not know what can happen. Rarely, people move on with things which they do not understand properly (Freud 10). The aspect of Fraud’s uncanny can be raced in the novel from one chapter to another.

Sigmund Freud defines uncanny clearly, and the story reflects the aspect of uncanny that is derived by many characters. The author wrote the book from two sources, which enabled him to make it creative and more attractive to the reader. The novel won two prizes because of the fiction and the aspect of uncanny in the book. The author wrote the book creatively, and it develops many themes inside the text, which can influence the reader to change his/her life and adopt a behavior which can lead to a bad life. Many characters in the story have behavior that does not reflect the expected one to live in a society (Flemming 40).


The term “goon” referred to violent thug, and goon squad at that time referred to violent thugs who beat up any body opposing a particular labor union. The book drew a metaphor from this concept. In the story a character named Bosco complains that time and fate has robbed most youth of their innocence and success. He is an example as he was robbed of his fate by the goons and changed from a rock star into a fat loser. Most of the characters in the books end up with lives which they did not expect to live. Some few characters get little happiness which does not last for long, but they do not get the happiness which they expected in life. Those characters spent their time rushing with things which cannot assist them, and they find in the end that they have not achieved what they expected in life. Studies show that the characters spent most of the time worrying about the goons, and as a result, they find out that they have abandoned their vision and failed to achieve their objective, which in turn leads to sadness and frustration (Egan 45).

Many characters in the book work in the music industry. They present rock music, which becomes more common in the cities, leaving all young people crazy about the music. Those without the concept of rock music were regarded as old schools. The rock music emphasized the youth culture and did not focus on the old culture, hence leaving the past life apart. This contributed to loss of innocence among the young people. Youth disregarded the past life; however, individuals cannot avoid the past life, since they have grown in it and have been brought up in the traditional set up. The music made many people reject the past and disregarded people who could not understand the rock music, because they were referred to as old schools. The novel shows this aspect of life and explains things of memory and kinship in regard to continuity and discontinuity (Freud 14).

Analysis of the Uncanny

One among the outstanding characters who portray ‘uncanniness’ in the story is Lou. He appears in many chapters of the book and survives to the end; hence in the end he has the worse situation. Rhea, a high school girl, says, “The hippies are getting old hence they brew out their brains on acid and they have started begging at street corners at San Francisco”. She complains that they are poor in such a way that their hair become grey and their bare feet are thick and become hard like shoes. She claims that they have been exhausted of them, and they are tired of seeing them every day. The girl reflects the uncanny aspect by being exhausted by seeing those old people begging from the streets as they have characters which do not match other people. She claims that they have ‘blown their brains to acid’, which shows that those people do not use their mind and act in a manner which nobody can like. The girl claims, “We are sick of them”. This shows that the behavior of those old people looks strange and still familiar, since they have become exhausted of seeing them. At the end they have opted to disregard them instead of accepting them in the society (Jonathan 27).

Lou, being in his forties, moves up with teenage girls, who are of the same age as his children. He is a music producer knowing Graham personally. He lives a high and expensive life, and this makes him attractive and able to seduce and win the young girls. He takes cocaine to stimulate his feelings and when asked anything about his life, he says, “ask me if I care”. In the house, Rhea takes the photos of his children and becomes angry. He told her that she has nothing to get angry of because he will never get old but will remain young forever. Rhea told him that he had already grown old. Lou had children who had grown up, but still he did not give up but struggled to get younger girls. He lived a high life, and this made him snatch all girls despite of the age. Rhea, having disrespected the beggars in the street and regarded that their brains have been ‘brown to acid’, moved up with old men. This shows that her brains have also been ‘brown to acid’. Rhea moves up with old men and she knows that they are old, which can be strange and at the same time familiar, since some girls decide to move up with old men and leave their age mates as they do not have enough money to support and provide material things. Lou, moving with younger girls and taking cocaine, is strange, since he is a person living high live and could even get financially stable women to make him happy (Freud 12).

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In safari story, Lou moves up with his children and is accompanied by his girlfriend named Mindy, a graduate. He goes to Africa trip with them all together. Lou does not mind to companion his children together with his girlfriend. This becomes strange, though sometimes familiar with a man who moves with his children and does not show respect for them as he does not leave his girlfriends. Lou does not teach the children moral values, because he behaves strangely while the children are near. He moves with this graduate girlfriend who is of the same age as his children. He still takes cocaine while the children are near, and this does not assist in creating moral standards. He should have brought up the children morally up right, because they have a likelihood of adopting his behavior (Bosman 23).

Lou lives a happy life, which he enjoys to the fullest. He gets and does what ever he wants, but in the end the happiness does not exist. He likes moving up with younger girls and taking drugs, which in turn ruin his life. He works at production industry, and taking cocaine while working in production is strange and also familiar. When people take cocaine, they cannot concentrate and sometimes lose memory. Lou, having family, should have concentrated on caring for his children, instead he involved himself in drug taking and having sexual relationship with young girls (Egan 154).

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In the book most of the characters have the dark side. For example, Sasha has a need to steel, and she spends most of her time dating a man whom she mates online. She is determined to take money from his wallet. The story has many parts of fiction. Sasha worked at Sow’s Ear records as the assistance to Bennie, who is focused in the story as having the desire to work in recording business. Bennie meets with Scotty, his former band mate, who went and turned to failure. Scotty goes to the office with a fish, which he leaves for Sasha to take care of until he finishes with Bennie. Sasha has two adolescent children.

Most of the characters in the book do not make it in life. They end up having terrible lives rather than what they expected. Many who do find happiness and do enjoy life do it for short periods, and eventually, they end up troubled. This happens because they do not concentrate on what they do, but they spent much of their time concentrating on the goons. They do not know what to choose, since all things which come in their life are fictions, and they end up choosing things which cannot assist them in their lives (Flemming 56).


The novel won prices for fiction, because the people awarding them noted that the novel had investigation of old and modern ages. The novel has seeped in modern literature and show people’s way of living as well as gave many lessons of life. The novel has been labeled as “post-post modern” by many people from the plays performed in platform. This shows that the play does not expire but gives lesson to all generation despite the change in technology. It gives life lessons and assist people to live better lives (Jonathan 89).


The book has many lessons and can easily convince the reader not to adopt irresponsible behavior. Readers of the novel should be aware of the behavior change and the consequences of all things a person does on earth. They should avoid being driven by the novel, because it can lead to psychological disorders. The reader should have a clear understanding of the themes of the book in order to get psychological treatment for those having disorders and problems in their lives.


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