By which I mean he is a liberal strewer of exclamation points. They are everywhere, and every third paragraph and almost every sub-chapter ends with one. So even though parts of it are rull dry (Sinclair is pretty explainy re: e.g. the workings of an oil rig) it’s difficult not to feel a sort of subliminal enthusiasm. What sport!
Ok so. Bunny is the young son of an oil mogul, who grows up to be the less-young-but-still-pretty-young-so-maybe-early-twenties son of an oil baron (a baron out-ranks a mogul), except that Bunny is an idealist and oozes compassion and empathy so that whenever the workers are all, Our working conditions are terrible, Bunny agrees. But then when his dad is all, This is the way big business is, then Bunny agrees. How hard to be torn in two like this! (<–essample of the way Upton ends almost every paragraph.)
Y’anyways, something something Russian something Bolsheviks something, and then Bunny becomes a Socialist and is torn into, like, six. Also, he dates some ladies. Coming of age!
And it’s all very tongue-in-cheek (I think?) because Bunny is such an idealist and half the time Upton writes as though he were speaking Bunny’s thoughts and either Upton is being ironic or this is the biggest ball of propoganda evah. And I promise to never try to impress on someone the life-and-death importance of a Victorian gal marrying when they tell me they can’t stand parlor novels, because I get how important the oil trade is AND how terrifying the Red Terror was and I STILL don’t care.
So mostly I didn’t care, but that’s 45% to do with me and 55% to do with the novel. Oh, and also? Upton has the maddening tendency to put slang in quotations so that it looks like euphemisms or sarcastiquotes and you’re not quite sure what’s what when he says that ‘Bunny “cut” his afternoon courses, and jumped into his car. Dad had gone over to Lobos River, to see to a “fishing” job, and so missed this first meeting.’ Like, by “fishing” does he really mean “bribing”? Because the context indicates actually fishing but the quotes suggest otherwise.
So. Confused and bored, but probably other people will like it.