I have to admit a weird dumb error I made in approaching this book. It’s listed as part of a trilogy, and that this is the third book. I also found out that you don’t have to read them in order or together at all, which is good since I tried reading the first one and really didn’t like it. So then I realized about 400 pages into this book that it’s not the “Thomas Gateway” trilogy, alluding to some shadowy figure, but the “Thames Gateway” trilogy, meaning where it takes place. Sometimes I wonder why long novels are so long, and sometimes they fully justify themselves, and sometimes they don’t. I like this book, but I am not convinced for the need of it being 840 pages, even if that 840 pages is in large font, with lots of spaces, whole section that go by super fast as they represent internal processes being frantically felt and assessed.
So this novel is primarily about Daniel Beede and his son Kane. Daniel is middle-aged and Kane is in his mid-20s. They live in a small town, are shady-lite figures in that town, and as we slowly get to know them and their slightly widening social circle, we start to take in the shape and tenor of their lives. The book is not a very plot-heavy book, in terms of structure, but does narrate a kind of “widening gyre” of events that take a frantic and frantically paced momentum. Parts of this book are straight narration, while other parts show us the close mindset of a character, and in a funny bit of typography, then some non-English speaking character shows up, we get their speech in italic Germanic font, that always cracked me up.
It’s not a difficult or challenging book ala a Pynchon, but it has some similar focuses and aspirations. It’s at time erudite, at times hilarious, and thoroughly compelling, even if it’s difficult to explain what it’s about.