If a novel is a work of prose of some length, this is a novel–but different in that it is more like life, which has no plots and does not reward virtue or punish vice, and in which characters appear and then, if the author doesn’t kill them off, remain to the end. Life is messier than Tolstoy and Henry James were willing to admit. Here, in David R. Slavitt’s farrago, one thing leads to another but without discernible direction until, at the end, there is a kind of resolution, a vision, however unreliable and approximate, of what the life of the speaker has been. It is a deeply thoughtful book but also laugh-out-loud funny. Like life, if we’re lucky.