4. As for plain-label realism itself, the book has many episodes of nuanced social observation, vividly presented. There’s an extraordinary account of Israel and Hanna’s wedding (241-46); the museum gala with which the Benjamin part of the book closes is another excellent set piece. Ditto for the accounts of the Florida apartment complex of Benjamin’s grandfather, or of the Vegas hotel in “Los Siegeles,” or of the Southwest, or the suburban development in which the Israelsteins live, of Israel’s law office, of Chinatown. The novel is very good at the kind of thing novelists like Trollope and Updike are good at – noticing what it is about the way we live now that we are too inattentive to notice, helping us to see our own world.
The novel’s many extraordinarily effective mimetic passages are all cast in the book’s idiosyncratic style, however, which is a whole other topic.