I admired the craft, but I fear that I misunderstood the book. This broad portrait of Life At Home during the Second World War weaves together with great skill a vast cast and disparate stories. Crowley’s writing calls little attention to itself, but within its tightly controlled span are deployed all the latest weapons: multiple points of view, tense shift, cinematic scenes that nod to Coover, first person plural straight out of Then We Came To The End. I see why Crowley is so widely loved and admired. But each character here is carefully kept at a distance by age, deformity – two midgets and a cripple are at the center of the story – dishonesty or worse, and few of them seem to care very deeply about more than getting by. If they cared more deeply or more consistently, that might tear the story out of shape, but surely avoiding a natural plot is as artificial as imposing thrills where they would not naturally belong. These are the Tales of Our Fathers, or more often our mothers, told in a way that lets us kids keep our place and our distance.