Apparently there’s a plot in this book, but I am not convinced. This is a kind of kaleidoscope novel in which everyone in 1906 just knows everyone, and they’re all the famous ones. So you have Harry Houdini crossing paths with Evelyn Nesbit (famous murderer) and Emma Goldman and JP Morgan and Teddy Roosevelt and Emiliano Zapata. We center on the family of a local financier and a jazz musician and things happen and maybe they happen? But for me this feels like something empty in a lot of ways. When I first started the novel I was thinking it was going to be like a USA Trilogy kind of thing where Dos Passos gives tons of little vignettes which are connected by way of being housed in the same novels but not in the same narrative. There’s plenty of great examples of novels in which unconnected pieces are brought together in thematic order and fragmentations are part of the landscape and that’s fine. Sometimes, like in say The Sound the Fury, the pieces are all connected by way of a metahistory, even if the individual pieces are highly different from one another (especially in comparison to As I Lay Dying, where the pieces tell continuing and overlapping parts of the same narrative), or something else like VS Naipaul’s In a Free State, where what feel like disconnected short stories function together in this way. But instead this novel shoves them all together in a kind decollage of everything newsworthy and historical that happened in a given space and pasted it into the same plot like a Billy Joel song.