This sad. elegiac novel is full of the grief and pain of everyday life. The people, whether flawed or whole, try to cope with the bleakness of life. Some are more successful than others. Many of the stories are shown through the eyes of children, and we see the impact on them of the pain of the adults around them. Many of the adults are the strong, silent type who keep their feelings inside them.
Karuf surveys his characters with God-like eyes. All are equally important, whether they are major or minor characters. His distance is eternal but there is room for love and hope no matter how far they have moved. In spite of the detachment, there is room for love.
His writing style adds to this distance. The conversation had no quotation marks, yet it is very easy to tell who is speaking. His sentences are short and every word seems perfect. There is nothing extra, nothing that can be trimmed. There is nothing superfluous.
Each book is a little gem of writing.