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Particle physics, false vacuum bubbles, an alternate universe--this is the stuff of Jonathan Lethem's novel As She Climbed Across the Table. The tale echoes Alice in Wonderland in its mad tumble through a rearranged reality. Narrator Phillip Engstrand is a university professor who has made a career out of studying academic environments. Engstrand is in love with Alice Coombs, a particle physicist engaged in a bold attempt to replicate the origins of the universe. The result of the experiment is Lack, a very selective black hole that sucks some things into its void--a cat, a pair of socks, a strawberry--and rejects others, namely, a love-struck Alice. As Alice's unrequited obsession with Lack grows, Phillip becomes so desperate to save his beloved from this empty rival that he risks a journey down the metaphysical rabbit hole.
Here the language of physics becomes the language of love: describing physics' "observer problem," Alice says, "Some people think the observer's consciousness determines the spin or even the existence of the electron." Later, as he stumbles to explain Alice's importance to him, Phillip tells her, "I'm not sure I really exist except under your observation." In this memorable little book, Lethem explores the cosmic possibilities of love. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In this witty but telling new work from the author of The Wall of Sky, the Wall of Eye (LJ 8/96), our hapless narrator has completed his dissertation on "Theory as Neurosis in the Professional Scientist" and landed a job at the University of North California at Beauchamp (pronouced beach 'em), where he studies academic envirorments, producing "strong but irrelevant work" and falling for physics professor Alice. But Alice is too caught up in Professor Soft's notorious experiment with a vacuum intelligence called Lack to pay her lover much heed, and soon Lack is the real love of her life. This is not your typically insular campus comedy; Lethem has something bigger in mind, and he succeeds admirably in skewering our pretensions, technological or not, in language that gently mocks the way we hide behind jargon. An ironical book that is, ironically, quite poignant; for public and academic libraries.?Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The author has a very unique way of writing such that the plot is both dark and humorous! It was the first of several Jonathon Lethen books I have read and it catered to my... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Marjorie Longwood
This is the Lethem I knew and loved. While the quality of his work might remain at an extraordinary level, I wish he had stayed with Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Bart Mann
There’s a quote that reads something like this: “500 readers could all read the same book, and interpret it 500 different ways”. Read morePublished 11 months ago by OpenBookSociety dot com
Although Lethem scored a bizarro hit with his sharp and sly noir/sci fi/dystopian/detective outing, (Gun, with Occasional Music (Harvest Book)), this book marks a step up in his... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Pop Bop
Although melding science fiction with philosophical concepts is neither unique nor rare, this book delivers the common merger to a new realm – in that the philosophy concerns... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Miami Bob
Quirky, faced paced, and entertaining. Could not put it down until I finished it. Ended up making it a late night.Published 17 months ago by ocd survivor
I consider Jonathan Lethem's "Motherless Brooklyn" a major literary achievement - which is what drew me to this book. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Alan A. Elsner
I would put this up there with Motherless Brooklyn and Chronic City. The academic setting will never be the same. In that respect, it rivals Russo's Straight Man.Published 22 months ago by Jamesfsf
This is not a book for everyone. Speculative fiction meets romance, with an ending that is an odd twist on "happily ever after."Published on May 10, 2013 by David Yossel