But there is a large, old-fashioned hole at the centre of the action. Lon’s family drama, revolving around his fraught relationship with his daughter and obsessive memories of his dead wife, makes for thin narrative gruel. Suspense, plot, characterisation — all these old-school tricks of the novelist’s trade are in short supply. Pierre’s prose is full of life and his evocation of a surreally technologised society is vivid. But the novel suffers a kind of entropic breakdown, opening in an impressively kinetic fashion but then losing energy and force, like a baggy, ultimately feeble pushback against Big Tech’s takeover of the human need for stories.