This is a book set in the 20th Century, following a self-absorbed young man from a wealthy German family. It starts with his time in the theater scene in Berlin, where he is so wrapped up in his ridiculous play and his social scene that he completely ignores his parents' death, the rise of Nazism, the war, and everything that happened in that country for decades. He manages this by traipsing off to Los Angeles in hazy pursuit of a young woman who he feels he needs to bed in order to bring his life back on track. Never mind that decades pass and that his self-absorption continues to the point of complete absurdity as he does as little as possible except for some occasional reading. Losing even his financial inheritance along the way, he glides through the post-war period unknowingly on the payroll of Soviet spies and trafficking among psychotics and refugees without any of it really registering.
All along, its the author's turns of phrase, his rich detail, and the excellent character work that keep you going. Wending his way through some of the most interesting events in history without touching or being touched by any only to find himself thrust in the middle of an attempted bombing of a university and immediately thereafter a genuine time-travel teleportation incident, well I won't say more except that I couldn't put this book down.
Even the denouement remains in my head completely underscoring everything that was so bat-shit crazy about the life of this book's irritable and pointless anti-hero. Amazing work.
I bought a copy for my brother, then gave mine to a successful author who himself ran off to Los Angeles with my copy.
P.S. I get that this was a challenging story - but check out the reviews on Goodreads! I can't imagine walking away from this book but plenty of people hated it.