While not yet a large enough collection to call a subgenre, several books have appeared in the past few years with enough in common to hint at one. Their authors seem to have sublimated the lessons of postmodernism and used them to reinvent the novel of family life. Think of Franzenâs The Corrections and perhaps also Eugenidesâs Middlesex, and now add Great Neck to the list. All of these are as ambitious as their ancestors in their willingness to sprawl, and they explode the details of domesticity across their many pages. Cantorâs contribution concerns the residents of the eponymous Long Island suburb, particularly a group of privileged, mostly Jewish friends who pass from childhood into adulthood as the civil-rights movement of the sixties and seventies unfolds. Obviously, political and racial themes are prominentâone character states, âif the body on trial is a black one, then justice is always far from blind. Criminal justice is always only criminal politicsâ?âbut the real interest here is in the way the characters are built through a steady accretion of observation and incident. The book is densely written, with a knotty chronology that takes a step back every time it takes two steps forward, and in its surfeit of detail it captures the sense of living through an almost paralyzing era that featured far too much to think about and do. Reading Great Neck requires almost the same amount of effort as living a life; those who are willing to work will find that Cantorâs created a rewarding plenitude.