Goodness. This is a book that often feels plodding when one is reading, but in retrospect (even only an hour on) it's so clear and crystalline and lovely that one knows that it will stay with one forever. Claude is the quintessential flawed hero who makes bad choices and fails to understand himself until it is nearly too late. He is nestled in his setting of pre=WWI America like a filbert in a shell. The war brings him into his own but at a cost. This book is truly tragic but I'm better for having read it. I don't know if I can bear to read it again, but I'll always be glad that Darsa strong-armed me into it.