There were some amazing beginnings in this book. Or some potentially amazing ideas. That is, they could have been amazing ideas, had Doctorow seen any of them through to completion. While that is almost the hallmark of Doctorow's novels, I found that the first three in particular were so scattered and poorly structured that the ideas themselves actually suffered. In this case there are also two main stories at play which really have very little to do with each other: the story of A and his bizarre family, and the story of an open wireless internet network. While the latter is interesting, it does nothing to advance or enhance the main story. If it were any other author, I would assume that the two were connected, and that I had somehow missed the point. In this novel you can also clearly see Doctorow experimenting with a few new literary devices from time to time, but without consistency. To add to the confusion, the protagonist is writing a story, so passages of this story also pepper the text. That said, I do love the surrealism of this book. In this sense it is completely different from any of his other novels. To give you a taste of what I'm getting at, the family of the protagonist consists of: Father (a mountain), Mother (a washing machine), Brother B---- (a fortune teller), Brother C---- (an island), Brother D---- (a corpse), Brothers E-F-G---- (a set of 3 Russian nesting dolls). All the brothers' names change throughout the story, retaining only their initial letter. So B----- is Bob, Billy, Bailey, Ben..... you get my point. I loved this part of the story. If Doctorow had concentrated on developing this, giving it structure and clear meaning, developing a consistent writing style - it could have been a GREAT novel. I think that's from whence my frustration stems - the sense of having missed out on something extraordinary.Don't get me wrong - this is a highly entertaining read. I would still recommend reading it. Just don't make it the first thing of Doctorow's you read. The most recent three novels are much better books.