John: Ripple effect might be just right, in fact -- the metaphor at least accounts for peaks and troughs!
And thanks for saying it's good, Jim! I'm grateful, and have come to think that maybe it is. (I say "maybe" because there are days when I see it only as a bound volume of pages that scream "You could have done that better!" staring at me from the shelf. You may know that feeling...) Anyway, my neuroses aside, I'm glad people think so, but also doubt that's enough, since lots of good books don't even make the list in the first place.