Mrs. Bridge. by Evan S. Connell, Jr. (1959). I picked up this novel in the library on a whim, because it was near Joseph Conrad, and because it’s told entirely in short, disconnected episodes (anywhere from a paragraph or two up to three or four pages at the longest). It’s a fast read. But it’s bleak: The life of an upper middle class lady in Kansas City during the thirties and forties, with a workaholic husband and three kids who don’t understand her, who has nothing to do but gossip at the Ladies’ Auxiliary and go to the country club. Mrs. Bridge lives in a state of vague discontent, but because she’s so isolated, intellectually and culturally, she never quite understands why. Somewhat overstated, I suspect, but maybe not. In any event it’s told vividly, sympathetically, and the effect is ultimately depressing.

p. 221-222: [reading a passage in Joseph Conrad] “… some people go skimming over the years of existence to sink gently into a placid grave, ignorant of life to the last, without ever having been made to see all it may contain …”