Yes, the writing is a bit overwrought and the characters are whiny (and few are likeable), but it was a compulsive read. It's the story of three 30-something friends from Brown University trying to make lives for themselves in New York before 9/11. They expect the world, and find that life doesn't quite meet up to their expectations. There are some memorable and curious characters in this book--the enigmatic political journalist, Murray Thwaite, who has an affair with one of his daughter's friends, his wife who is a compassionate public defender, and Murray's nephew, the aimless social misfit "Bootie," who fancies himself an intellectual. This reminded me of Zadie Smith's On Beauty and Julia Glass' The Whole World Over.