A comment below hints at some of my concerns as I got underway, and the book never really broke from its initial, out-of-the-gate stride. A fast read, and casually engaging, but its ambitious ingredients (the sweep of a social-issues canvas, the page-turner, the incisive character satire) never synthesized into a satisfying meal.
Besides its indebtedness to Franzen and Wolfe, there were explicit head-nods to Amis and to Bellow, hints of Atwood at her sliest and sharpest. All great people to steal from, to emulate, but this felt more like karaoke (or maybe, at best, a good cover band) of such stuff.
I could probably waste more of your time trying to diagnose the novel's weaknesses or defending my relative disengagement, but... this is another book (like Wroblewski's recent, much-loved [b:Edgar Sawtelle|2731276|The Story of Edgar Sawtelle A Novel|David Wroblewski|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51PsNz9BbHL._SL75_.jpg|2168242]
) that I think just wasn't my cup of joe. Taken as a dark-comic melodrama, it's probably a pretty fine read, and my "recommended to" tag-line was meant sincerely, not dismissively. But I came in expecting something more psychologically and socially incisive, and with a lot more top-spin in the prose.