On finishing this book I'm presented with a puzzle. This: why is this book, this author, not as vastly regarded among American letters as, on the showing of this book, he is due?
This is not, as it says all over it, a novel of politics. It has politics in it, sure. Rather it is a just a novel. Simply that. A big, bountiful, gorgeous piece of work. Surely a realistic candidate for the great American novel if ever there was one (and I can not think, off the top of my head, of another more deserving). This is a long, ramblingly poetic piece of work about two men, about relationships, power, influence, connections, careers versus personal lives, children, parenthood, corruption. I can't praise it highly enough. It is moving; the story contains a deeply tragic web and is one of those novels that illuminates how any little thing might turn out to be critically significant and you never even knew it. The writing is shaggily beautiful and deeply, hard-wonly wise; I am not remotely surprised this man won the Pulitzer for poetry in his lifetime as well as for prose.
A novel of regrets and life, a perfect example of one of those novels that you've heard of remotely in the background of literature, and turns out to be more powerful than you'd dared hope. This is worth five Gatsby's. It takes a little while to get into, to engage with but once you are in, this digressive book will enchant you. An American masterpiece, I am certain.