Lorrie Moore’s latest novel is deeply troubling, but also consoling

Sometimes a novel’s means are so strange, however compelling its final effect on the reader, that a straightforward account of it will be most helpful. I’ve read, or part-read, this novel three times now. On the first reading I gave up, shaking my head. On the second I got to the end, but thought it absurdly wilful, self-absorbed and idiosyncratic to the point of whimsy. The third reading – something, after all, must have drawn me back – exerted an appalling power, and I emerged shaken, troubled, but also consoled. Take your pick. This is a book that is going to divide people, and one that can look very different