Attention to the body is constant in A Visit from the Goon Squad. Bodies often serve as the location of identity for individuals, and comparing one’s body to another’s allows these characters to establish their meaning in the world. In the novel, the body can be manipulated to establish identity and distinguish oneself. This is most clearly depicted in the story, “Ask Me If I Care.” Rhea dies her hair to establish a punk identity, and her attention to Jocelyn’s blond hair serves as a reference point against which she can gauge her authenticity. It also becomes an important element in the story “A to B”, as Bennie and Stephanie attempt to establish themselves and find acceptance in Crandale, but are judged by their appearances. The body is also a symbol that points the reader toward the theme of time. A Visit from the Goon Squad focuses on the ways in which the human body ages and fails. In the novel’s first story, “Found Objects,” Sasha focuses on Alex’s body and notes that he is fit because he is young. Later, in the story “You (Plural)”, Lou’s power has diminished with the failing of his body. The body is the site of meaning in the novel, and the way in which characters focus on their own bodies and the bodies of others works to reveal their true natures.
The Body and Appearance Quotes in A Visit from the Goon Squad
She could tell that [Alex] was in excellent shape, not from going to the gym but from being young enough that his body was still imprinted with whatever sports he'd played in high school and college. Sasha, who was thirty-five, had passed that point. Still, not even Coz knew her real age. The closest anyone had come to guessing it was thirty-one, and most put her in her twenties. She worked out daily and avoided the sun. Her online profiles all listed her as twenty-eight.
Bennie's assistant, Sasha, brought him coffee: cream and two sugars. He shimmied a tiny red enameled box from his pocket, popped the tricky latch, pinched a few gold flakes between his trembling fingers, and released them into his cup. He'd begun this regimen two months ago, after reading in a book on Aztec medicine that gold and coffee together were believed to ensure sexual potency. Bennie's goal was more basic than potency: sex drive, his own having mysteriously expired.
Then the sisters began to sing. Oh, the raw, almost threadbare sound of their voices mixed with the clash of instruments—these sensations met with a faculty deeper in Bennie than judgment or even pleasure; they communed directly with his body…And here was his first erection in months…He seized the cowbell and stick and began whacking at it with zealous blows. He felt the music in his mouth, his ears, his ribs—or was that his own pulse? He was on fire!