The Last Two Chapters

(finally finished with “A Visit from the Goon Squad”)

Tim: So now we’ve finally finished the book. Which means we’ve gotten through the last two chapters. Which, not that they’re bad, might be the biggest outlier chapters in the entire book. For a number of reasons. Let’s attack them as they come. The entire second to last chapter is a series of slides, diagrams, flow charts, and otherwise visually represented story. (Although the words still prove way more important.) I guess if you’re going to expect it somewhere, it might be this book, but it is kind of bizarre, especially because I’m not sure it does a lot for the character who is effectively the narrator. I don’t know. What did you think about this chapter?

Debby: I agree that it is quite odd at first. But following the path of the diagrams provides quite an interesting narrative flow. I feel like Egan wanted to connect technology with the future– and show how technology would ultimately redefine how we communicate with one another. We see that through the language and connectivity of Alex’s “parrots” in the final chapter, and we see it through Ally’s powerpoint diagrams before that.

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. Even with Ally and her dad walking to the solar panels (although it is Arizona) has an eye to the future. Very much pushing the idea that this goonish quality of time will live on eternally. We’ve seen the past and it’s being connected to the future. You know what, though? The future pieces felt easily the least authentic to me, and I’m not sure it can all be attributed to a lack of familiarity on our part. They seem, and I don’t know quite how to say this without sounding a little on the nose, but speculative to me. Like Egan is so assured about everything that was and is, but less so about what will be. I still enjoyed the chapter(s – it’s only one plus a little bit), but I do think there’s a slight fade in quality despite the fun I had with them.

Debby: The first time I read that last chapter, I was annoyed. It felt rather cliche in its use of “texting language” and fake in a way I hope the world will never be. The second time through, though, I paid more attention to the human interaction– how the adults behaved around the screaming children, how Lulu attached herself so calmly to Scotty– there were still such clear connections being made. While technology influenced business and communication, it couldn’t rewrite the human interaction.

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