Zoltan accepts Mack's invitation and, at first, the three spend long nights in soulful conversation. But it is not long before the relationship between Heather and Zoltan goes badly awry. In Shulman's hands, the three characters, the New York publishing scene, and the conspicuous consumption of the wealthy "environmentally conscious" all take a satiric beating, revealed as self-centered jerks with no insight into themselves or others.
Remembering Shulman for her early feminist writings, including the novel Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, I was surprised that Heather was depicted as being as despicable as her husband and would-be lover. Judging by this book, Shulman has become more of a misanthrope than a feminist (an evolution I unfortunately understand). As a reader with little connection to the social and economic worlds that Mack, Heather, and Zoltan populate, I found the satire more tedious than funny or illuminating.
For her, reading was more than a pastime, like watching a movie; it was an elevating, intimate act. She read slowly, carefully, pencil in hand, marking the margins in a private code, lingering over certain passages, copying into a special notebook those words or phrases that touched her or that she thought she might like to use in her own writing, occasionally posting over her desk brief passages that spoke directly to her. Such physical acts of communion made the authors' words seem almost her own.
(Okay, this is funny and a good poke at all of us readers who "claim" the words of the authors we read.)