Two thirds of the way in, I can honestly say that I liked this book...all of that excess, pretend decadence, greed, and need. Em, Dex, et.al. aren’t characters you can easily like. The relationships described in this story are kind of brutal, though not in the same way as Mary McCarthy describes in her novel, The Group
. McCarthy’s novel is certainly the darker of the two—the relationships are starkly real in her novel from beginning to end. McCarthy maintains a good balance of both good times and bad as the story progresses from one character to the next over time. Nichols, on the other hand falls short in the end, in my opinion. When Nichols limited his story to be told on one particular day, every year for some twenty years in these characters’ lives, it loses some of its realistic credibility. As a result, the story becomes too heavily focused on coincidence, especially when you factor in what happens at the end. Because of this, the novel becomes too melodramatic and sentimental. While I was interested in the beginning, by the novel’s end, I kind of felt alienated—drowned in this soup of melodramatic coincidence. I didn’t mind the idea of a separation, I just felt it could have been handled in a different way.