This is one of those books that seemed to constantly be in my peripheral vision. It was on a gazillion “best of” lists and it pops up with regularity whenever I order a book on Amazon. As I gaze at the cover I see it won a Pulitzer and a National Book Critics Circle Award. But the thing is, I had never read anything about the book, not one single review. I don’t know if it would have saved me the trouble of reading this book or not, but at least I have something in common with many of the characters within these pages: profound regret.
More tangentially connected stories than actual novel, each chapter blithely zips backward and forward in time, even into the not-so-distant future, zooming in and out of different characters lives and locales. Sometimes this method was a little exhilarating, but that refreshing breeze was immediately quashed by the characters themselves. With each successive story, I trudged on, hoping to find one character I could care about. KleptoHipster Sasha? Gold flake swilling Bennie? Steph? Dolly? Rob? Kitty? Lou? Alas, this was not to be. Then there was the thud and clank of stories being told in second person. Oh, and the pseudo David Foster Wallace footnotes. Sigh. Don’t even get me started on the PowerPoint chapter. It all just felt so hollow and gimmicky to me.
Oh well, at least I got number 159 out of it.