Lucius Shepard is a strong and beautiful writer. His stories have frequently been compared to those of Joseph Conrad, and indeed Shepard is a master of the short story and the novella. R&R, the novella that makes up the opening of this novel, is a beautiful and terrible read, and the quality of the writing remains consistently captivating throughout. So why have I given this novel only three stars? Because, as a novel, it doesn't really work. Shepard writes fantastic short fiction, but when he wrote LIFE DURING WARTIME, he just wasn't ready to tackle a novel. It reads like a series of episodes, each an good read on its own, but each also providing its own closure. But they are linked closely enough that were I to read something else in between them, I'd likely lose track of the details of the plot. So, while the writing is beautiful, the plot interesting, and each episode a joy to read on its own, the novel isn't able to sustain its momentum throughout. I'm glad I read it, but as a novel, it just doesn't quite work.