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The Goon, The Bad And The Ugly

Stuart Bailie | 14:38 UK time, Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas always works better with a bit of rock and roll literature. Last year, it was the Keith Richards book and 'Just Kids' by Patti Smith. Previous holidays have been gladdened by John Peel's 'Margrave Of The Marshes' and 'Redemption Song' by Chris Salewicz.

This year I would recommend 'A Visit From The Goon Squad' by Jennifer Egan. Released earlier in the year, it's turning up on a lot of the critics polls and deservedly so. The novel follows the progress of disparate punk kids from San Francisco. They are immersed in notions of virtue, rebellion and founding an alternative nation. Naturally the cause is challenged by record company money, fraught relationships and drugs. Each chapter is a slice of the chaos, willfully out of synch, the repercussions pulsing across the decades.

There's even a near future scenario, as a surviving punk voice is championed by a new generation of kids, out of the war and beyond the financial doldrums. It's an unusual idea, but popular culture tends to throw up these kind of surprises, and the book feels true. No bad way to accompany those spare holiday moments.


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