A book of disjointed stories that have characters that are interwoven, but I just didn't understand the lack of chronology. We went from present to past to future and I just couldn't handle the ride.
My other main complaint lies in how the chapters were ordered and presented. With a lack of chronology, with each chapter it took me a moment to find out where we were in the years - it made things hard. The other point that I found extremely hard to read was not knowing who the heck the chapter was about until I was at least 6 pages in and then there would be about 14 more pages, where I would get hooked and then the chapter would be over, wasn't a fan.
I say all these things because this was a read for book club and after attending, I appreciated when other people enjoyed it while I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it. If I reread this book, I would put it in the pile.
This book is almost structured as a series of short stories, each chapter told from the point of view of a different character who is in some way connected with the two who are supposed to be the "main" characters, Sasha and Bennie.
The writing is great, fluid and easy to read, which I think gives you a better-than-normal sense of the characters than you would get otherwise. Some of the chapters were a lot more interesting to me than others, but I think that's probably par for the course in a book that's structured this way. I guess my biggest complaint is the final chapter, which felt very out of place with the rest of the story and seemed like a meditation on communication in the digital age that the author threw in at the end to make a bigger point or give the story some deeper significance...you can just write a good book that's a character study, you don't need to make a bigger societal point to make it a good book! It really threw me out of the story at the end and I almost felt as though I was reading a different book, which was disappointing considering the chapter before it had been probably my favorite in the entire story.
Anyway, TONS of readers love this book, and it won the Pulitzer so obviously it has some merit to it. I enjoyed the story and found the read easy and interesting until that last chapter, so even though I wouldn't put it down among my favorites I would probably recommend it even with its flaws.
If you are expecting this book to be a novel, forget it. Think of this book as a collection of short stories which happen to have some of the same characters in them at different points in their lives. This sounds confusing, but it is the best I can do. For example, Sasha, the main character in the first chapter is a ancillary character in the second chapter which takes place earlier in her life, and later in the book there is a chapter about college life in NYC in the 80s narrated by a friend in which she is a main character, and later a chapter about her life as a teenage runaway prior to college, and later a chapter which is a power point presentation (yes!) by her daughter, and in the final chpater, her former boss and someone who had a blind date with her realize that they both knew her. But Sasha is not the main character in this book - there are other characters which are given the same pop-up treatment from chapter to chapter. For this reason, I would compare this book to "Olive Kittredge" but without the choronological order to the chapters in that book.
In any event, it was a fascinating book. Actually I listened to it on CD which I would not recommend because it prevents you from being able to flip back to see if someone you meet in Chapter 7 is the same as the drummer you read baout in Chapter 2(in addition to which I did not think the reader was really that good). Many of the chapters are set in the music industry which created a disconnect for me since music is not very important in my life. Egan also hops around a little stylistically - sometimes first person, sometimes not, sometimes a chapter is completely satrical, while another chapter is subtle in its emotional perspective, a hero in one chapter may be a villain in another. There is really something for everyone in this book.
This book has interesting, complex characters. Not one word is wasted. Contains smart humor.
This was the November pick in my online book club The Reading Cove. It wasn't my cuppa.
The first couple chapters had me interested in Sasha and Bennie, but once the story went off into Rhea and the others, it became too disjointed and pointless for me, and my interest quickly fizzled. I really didn't care about the new characters I was meeting and the blah, blah, blah nature of what they had to say. Some sections had no quotation marks for dialogue, while others did. I found this annoying.
I skimmed to part B, and finally chucked it - with regret, because I feel badly giving up on a book club read - but this just wasn't coherent enough for me. And I'm very surprised it won a Pulitzer.