Mann rules. This is the 750 page family epic he turned in as his first novel when he was 25, and it’s a masterpiece. The prose actually gets better as he goes, and while it’s not as accomplished, perhaps, as The Magic Mountain, there’s more action, and the subtle humor and sharp realistic observation are already fully developed. Plus you gotta love a book that’s subtitled “The Decline of a Family,” starts out with a party and then just keeps going downhill for a long long time. Poor Toby, poor Thomas, poor poor Hanno….