I read this novel when it first came out and was favorably reviewed in the New Yorker as a "short." (The author's stories have appeared in the New Yorker). Recently, less than a year later, I picked it up again. I had only vague memories of the characters and story, as if I'd dreamed it. This makes me wonder about the strength of the character portrayal and the narrative (not, of course, about my memory). Although each character is interesting, none are very endearing, except perhaps for the young man, Jamie, who is, at least, funny and articulate. Part of the problem is that we aren't allowed much "time" with each character, as the narrative speeds through several generations, leaping from point of view to point of view. The writing, although flawless and strong, fails to create a sense of place or to paint a picture of any of the participants. It's more like a a fictional breeze through a family's generational history.
On the other hand, I enjoyed it both times I read it. I think, therefore, that this novel should be read more as a narrative poem, and really a rather lovely one.