In a way, this is a fascinating study of life's little disappointments, where scant agency exists and things spin madly on. "Nobody ever decided anything," Powell writes. "Situations were solved only by other situations." And your meager self, the book seems to say, might never be enough: "Underneath the woes of the world ran the firm roots of the platitudes, the calendar slogans, the song cues, a safety net to catch the heart after its vain quest for private solutions." We are left to make sense of the beautiful wreckage.