Some of the chapters are fully objective, in the manner of the nouvelle roman. One begins with a fragment of description: "A shelf in a shallow recess, above which is a cupboard with two small doors, one of which is partially open, but not enough to allow one to see inside, the other firmly shut." The narrative is pictorial, in exact scientific fashion. Another chapter is historical: "By far the most vivid picture available in Britain of the material equipment and domestic economy of a Neolithic community is to be seen at the celebrated prehistoric village of Skara Brae." Yet another begins, "Here I am, one hand raised in mock salute." The voice is that of a figure in the Paul Klee illustration Wander-Artist (Ein Plakat), which adorns the book jacket of Goldberg: Variations and, as a postcard, inspires the contemporary (fictive) author of the book we are reading. One of the most effective chapters is, in effect, a work of literary analysis—a reading of a John Donne poem devised by Goldberg for the entertainment of King George III. This indirection does not rob the book of action; the narrative contains a novel’s worth of conflict, death, divorce, mental illness, failure, romance, and victory.