For [Chabon] plot is, like chess, no more and no less than a beautiful game, something to be played as scrupulously and passionately as you can, but warily—with an eye to the danger that the game could start playing you.
Terrence Rafferty’s opinions
But in this sort of book portentous rhetoric, preferably laced with classical allusions, is an absolute requirement: an air of consequence must hang heavy over even the most trivial actions, the most ordinary settings. The idea is to suspend us in a lyrical trance while we wait—and wait and wait—for the penny to drop.
… It reads like a translation. It’s as if [Doctorow] wanted both to engage some ugly truth about the country his grandparents came to and to avoid being implicated in it. He clings—self-defeatingly—to the notion that the only true culture is that of the Old World.