And that’s it, isn’t it? We are not ourselves. We always want to be someone, something, somewhere else. In Eileen’s case, it’s about real estate, a kind of Dreiser-lite version of trying to move up and out (of the city) in a way that forms the quietest echo of the Revolutionary Road era.

But Eileen forgets the old notion that if you want to make G-d laugh, then make a plan. Something happens on her way to that place (sorry, Mr. Joel), and she and her son (perhaps Thomas himself) have to deal with it. Along the way, we see the difference between perception and reality over and over again in the form of real estate – a house, for example, that is only renovated in areas guests are likely to see.

I’m being glib; I know that. So much of this book felt so very obvious – at least until that plot twist happened that I don’t want to spoil. The notion of real estate took on some subtler shades – the body as real estate, the mind as a kind of property. So, the book is pretty slow going until then. Then it becomes interesting though rarely compelling. And it certainly could have been shorter.

I’ll be curious to see what Thomas does next. But it might take some time and persuasion before I read it.

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