I suppose we are reaching peak Brooklyn when in the course of two months, I’ve read two recent ensemble novels based in Brooklyn brownstones. (The other one I skipped writing about.) The characters of Inﬁnite Home are a disparate group who barely interact with each other for years, yet in the course of this story come to bond into a familial unit. It’s a breeze to read, the chapters bouncing quickly around the diﬀerent apartments of the building, and Alcott manages to ﬁll in everyone’s back story while moving the greater narrative forward. But for the most part the characters remained ﬁctional personas to me. They are all aﬀectedly ﬂawed with too many contrived and even out-of-character moments — as when (spoiler) an agoraphobic person abruptly feels able to not just leave the house but ﬂy across the country.
The story suﬀered too much when the action moved beyond Brooklyn and slowly the brownstone emptied. Even if the road trip to see synchronous ﬁreﬂies in the Smoky Mountains was interesting, it also seemed like an unnecessary sidetrack. Alcott strives for lyricism, but her endless similes and metaphors get tiresome and distracting, as when she describes a character “waving the biscuits as though trying to keep the attention of a baby” — they rarely provided any useful context. Maybe for me this book suﬀered from being bookended by two Ferrante novels, which drew me in so much more, but while Inﬁnite Home was fairly entertaining to read, it felt too obviously constructed.