This is basically a character study, which is fine, but too much description, and moved too slowly for me. I kept at it almost to the end, but finally gave up about 100 pages before the end of this 517-page book. The characters are well-drawn, and the concept is good. Just a bit longer than it should have been.
I don't think I have ever read a work of fiction before that is nearly 500 pages long and in which nothing happens. "Nothing" -- not as in a lack of car chases or plot twists, but as in a complete absence of the elements that make the stuff of good fiction: character development, conflict, change of any kind. O'Nan's book is stuffed with the mundane details of everyday life, which he does an exacting job of chronicling in painfully minute detail (right down to the scene in which one of the characters has a bout of diarrhea in the bathroom). Yet by the end of these pointless meanderings, none of the characters has grown in any way, or gained any insight into either themselves or one another. They remain static, isolated from one another, and eminently unlikeable. Small, niggling details remain unanswered (why is one character's name spelled two different ways? Bad editing? At first I thought there might be a pattern according to how she was thought of by the other characters, but finally I just gave up and tried to ignore the nagging discrepancy). O'Nan is great at eliciting the familiar details of family interactions and the physical environment, but so what? that in itself doesn't make a novel. The book reads like one long exercise in a fiction-writing workshop. I trudged on until the end, hoping for something, anything, to justify its existence, but to no avail. I'll never get back the hours of my life I wasted reading this book.
I am sorry to say that I could not finish this book.
I feel guilty to say the least. But so many books and so little time! Even though the author wrote beautifully, the plot went nowhere. Their lives at the cabin which takes place over a week's time,seemed like a year. I did not connect with the characters to even care what happened to them. To tell you the truth, I enjoyed reading about Rufus the most and he is the family's springer spaniel.
Stewart O'nan does it again. This is not a book to put down and pick up later without backtracking. Lots of Characters and many issues I enjoyed it, but would have liked it to have been an easier read.
Pretty good book....Left me with some unanswered questions