When I saw the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, my very first thoughts afterward were: "That was AMAZING but I am never ever ever going to sit through that again as long as I live."
Exceedingly well-crafted and inventive (I loved the scenes where Frank imagines in real-time how he'll describe what's happening to April, later) and very (very) depressing, but I was never not speeding through it, wondering what would happen next.
Yates is very mean to his characters, punishing, really; I don't think there's anyone sympathetic in the whole story (maybe the "insane" guy (the one clunky thing about the book, by the way: the insane guy is the only one who speaks the truth!!!)), which is kind of hard to take and why I didn't love this unreservedly or give it more stars. He's got an axe to grind and he's very good at grinding it, but even tragedies can have something hopeful or inspiring in them, but I didn't see that here, it was all just brutal. Although Meg's review seems to say that there's more going on with the characters than I'm giving them credit for, so she and I will pick that up offline.
My enjoyment for the book is somewhat couched within the framework of my feeling that as good as it is, as well as it is written, the book is, at a certain point, one big White Whine. Maybe because I grew up in the suburbs, and my period of Feeling That I Get The Horrible Joke That No One Else Does was safely ensconced in my teenage years. I shouldn't hold it against a book that was written in the early 60s, when the suburbs and what they do to our internal landscapes was still new. But I feel like Yates is holding up a book and saying "It's an indictment of heterosexual relationships in the suburbs!" And I'm going "No, it's about race!" but without benefit of a time machine I am unable to convince him to follow that line of thought through.