Arthur in darkness---drifting---the planet spinning toward dawn; he awakens in gray November daybreak to the sounds of running water and a great arm brushing the side of his house. The wind, he thinks, the wind; the end of autumn, the last of the leaves pulled away. The running water, he understands, was never real. He lies in the dark of the bedroom he shares with his wife, waiting for the dream to fade---a dream which, together, they sail over a cliff into blackness. What else? A sense of water below, a lake or stream, miriam's hand in his, of everything loosed from the earth; a feeling like accomplishment, shapes fitting together with mathematical precision, all the equations of the heavens ringing. A dream of final happiness, in which they, Arthur and Miriam, together, at the last, die.
Opening paragraph, pg. 1
This first paragraph can give the impression that this is a dour, introspective story. But, this is not a morbid novel--series of linked chronological short stories--even though the subject matter is often poignant, sad, thoughtful. Here's another sampling:
Mary and O'Neil: They were like any couple...
And yet, there was something uncertain about them it was hard to say why. Their love was electric and sensual---O'Neil, for instance, sometimes placed his nose against Mary's cheek, simply to smell her skin... And their lovemaking surprised them with its ease. So many years of nervousness; why had no one told them that sex was meant to be funny, and that they could say the things they wanted to and ask for what they liked? They were happy, it was true; they had reached a point of happiness in their lives, a place of rest after a journey of some difficulty, and they frequently marveled at this fact: how, of all the people in the world, and all the lives they might have led, they had somehow found this one together.
As usual, The New York Times says it best.