“Can I really blame Boris for his Pause, for his need to seize the day, to snatching the pausal snatch while there was still time, still time for the old-timer he was swiftly becoming? Don’t we all deserve to romp and hump and carry on?”
Of course, even admitting her own self-interest doesn’t mean that we don’t spend a great deal of time in Mia’s tenured-poet’s head. And the book is very good in setting up a bunch of complementary relationships and plots, putting together a progression for Mia as she works through her shock and anger at the Pause; but it’s much less good at making all of those relationships and plotlines much more than just reflections of Mia’s concerns projected on to other people. And Hustvedt traps us so thoroughly in Mia’s internal monologues, often cyclical and thoroughly isolated from those other more interesting characters and plotlines, that Mia’s the only fully fleshed-out character, and we suspect that we’d rather spend time with some of Hustvedt’s other, regrettably functionary, women.