Through baseball, finance, media, and religion, Beha traces the passing of the torch from the old establishment to the new meritocracy, exploring how each generation’s failure helped land us where we are today.
Beha is excellent at establishing his characters as representatives of particular intellectual worldviews; he doesn’t have to pin them down because they keep trying to do it to one another ... an impressive performance. Beha writes like an insider about a wide range of human experiences ... Sometimes the architecture of the plot seems grander and more elaborate than the story housed in it requires — about a family forced to re-evaluate itself as vitality shifts from one generation to the next. There are coincidences, chance encounters, faith healers, high crimes, medical emergencies and other disasters. The argument against analytics is really that there’s something human and elusive the numbers can’t account for, but the improbable here ends up scoring a lot of points ... There are also moving passages of carefully rendered points of view ... the kind of long novel that begins to occupy its own time zone in your life: Like a trader who has to wait for some foreign market to open, you keep returning to this world, waiting for fresh news.
Beha brings to messy life a post-9/11 New York City in a character-rich novel that’s funny, poignant, prescient, and somehow sweetly deft in the willing suspension of disbelief as a syzygy of coincidences careens toward a perfect storm.
... with impressive craft Mr. Beha arranges their individual collapses into a chain of toppling dominos ... In his 2012 debut, What Happened to Sophie Wilder, Mr. Beha struggled to work out a private quarrel with postmodernism and narrative irony, but in this novel he has confidently embraced a style of traditional realism. What is striking is the absence of satire or polemic. Mr. Beha never exaggerates the tawdriness of his characters, and the sympathetic portrayals are all the more damning because they make their transgressions seem inherent to the environment rather than the aberrations of a particularly nasty class of people. Realism is in fact the costume he has patiently designed to disguise a vision of fallen humanity ... The only irony in this absorbing and satisfying novel is the cosmic kind. There is a force operating on their lives that eludes analysis and that can only be glimpsed once it’s too late to escape.