A fantastically sad and pitiless story of a disintegrating American family. It’s very realistic and impressively constructed, and Franzen has done a great job of uncovering the strangeness of his culture from within it. (One small example: the dialogue includes a lot of self-conscious “So”s ending sentences. That’s something I was aware of in modern English but never questioned until I saw it on the page.) Overall, this is a very rewarding read if only to see what everybody thinks is the best novel of the decade.