The language of this book is lyrical, complex, elevated, and dense. Sometimes too much so. Poetry is sparse on the page for a reason. Its hard to read 700 plus pages of such extremely evocative language and actually stay engaged with it. At times I found myself getting irritated by just how much work this thing is. I wanted an occasional break from all the throngs of image and stirring rhetoric; a chance to just relax into the story and be pulled forward by the narrative without having to work so damn hard all the time.
I sometimes ended up feeling quite distanced because the characters spend so much time acting like symbolic evocations rather than people. I didn't really believe in them so much as enjoy them as artifacts. It was like seeing a spectacular Cirque de Soleil performance. Beautiful, magical, makes you imagine all sorts of amazing things, but these aren't people I'm going to sit down with at the kitchen table. There is also very little in the way of plot and what there is vague to the point of self contradiction at times.
None the less, for me some of the many wonderful images in this book were well worth the price of admission even if that price was a little high. There are pictures that stick in your head and shape the way you imagine things going forward and for me there were a lot of those in here. I probably wont pass through Grand Central again without wondering if there is someone lounging on a cot reading magazines up behind the ceiling stars. Or walk down a city street at night without imagining all the ninteenth century tuburculosis patients sleeping on the roofs. Or see the stars on a winter night without hearing sleighbells.
That said, if you are a person who likes their books to have a strong narrative, or who is frustrated by lyricism at the expense of clarity, you might end up throwing this book across the room.