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Machine Hardcover – May 28, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 85 pages
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage (May 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596922877
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596922877
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,623,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

a masterfully metaphysical narrative worthy of Pynchon Irish Times Books of the Year --This text refers to the Digital edition.

About the Author

Peter Adolphsen was born in 1972 and attended the Danish Writers School from 1993-95. At 25, he made his debut as an author with a collection of short prose entitled Small Stories, followed in 2000 by Small Stories 2. In 2003, he published Brummstein, which can be placed as a genre somewhere between a long short story and a short novel. The same year, Adolphsen received the Danish Arts Foundation s 3-year work endowment.

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What does a prehistoric horse that died in the Eocene era have to do with a nine-year-old boy in Austin, Texas, in 1975? In MACHINE, a "story of a speck of matter," it takes Danish author Peter Adolphsen less than 100 pages to explain the seemingly improbable but totally convincing connection.

This very short novel starts 55 million years ago when a storm frightens a herd of prehistoric horses no bigger than fox terriers. One of these was a five-year-old mare who gets separated from the others and injured. Although she survives one night alone and hurt, she falls again into a muddy river the next day, and this time she dies. Over millions of years the river changes: it dries up, and the body of the little mare is covered with tons of sediment, which turn to rock, her own body changing to oil.

Fast forward to 1973 when a young Azerbaijani named Djamolidine Hasanov (or Jimmy Nash, as he is now known) is working on an oil pipeline in the Uinta Basin of Utah. He was born in Baku in 1948 and as a child was an avid and somewhat successful competitive cyclist for his national team. But he longed to escape the Soviet Union, and his athletic abilities helped earn him passage to the United States. One day an accident at work blows his arm off.

Clarissa Sanders is a 22-year-old biology student in Texas when she picks up Jimmy hitchhiking. They spend the afternoon together taking LSD and eating snacks. Since she was seven, Clarissa had had a fear of dying and a fear of going insane, so she had no desire to take drugs. However, when Jimmy held out to her the small square of paper soaked in acid, she impulsively accepted.

Later that day, her car's exhaust pipe released its emissions into the air, and one speck was caught in a spider's web.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By emmejay VINE VOICE on January 21, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
From MACHINE:
"Death exists, but only in a practical, macroscopic sense. Biologically one cannot distinguish between life and death; the transition is a continuum. [...] The problem of defining death mirrors a corresponding difficulty with the definition of life: a living organism is formed of non-living material, organized so it can absorb energy to maintain its system, and death is thus the irreversible cessation of these functions."

Translated from the Danish by Charlotte Barslund, MACHINE is a short novella that explores life, death and transformation via the path of a drop of crude oil -- from its origins 55-million years ago in the decaying heart of a tiny prehistoric horse, through refinement to gasoline and into the tank of a 1970s car carrying a man and woman, and then... well you'll have to read it and I wager you'll be surprised.

It's a ping-pong of ideas, scientific and philosophical -- an essay (a tutorial at times) clothed in a fragmented, fable-like story. I'm not a fan of fables, but I am a fan of ideas and of short-form writing, and found MACHINE interesting to read. I will read more by Adolphsen.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 85 short pages, Peter Adolphsen manages to trace the complete history of a drop of oil from its origins in the early Eocene through a story of the last moments of a Hyracotherium (a tiny prehistoric ancestor to the horse) where this drop of oil started in this tiny animals beating heart, through its geologic development and migration, its extraction and refinement into gasoline, and finally through the combustion process of 1970s Ford Pinto where this single molecule will find its ultimate destination, drastically altering the life of one of the passengers.

Adolphsen plays with the idea of Chaos Theory and coincidence throughout the novel tying what seems like a series of highly improbable events into a single narrative history told in unique almost omnipresent first person. Throughout the narrative Adolphsen is preoccupied with the science that makes these series of events happen from life and death, to the creation of oil from living matter, to the brain on drugs and the combustion of a car engine. In fact, the majority of the book is concerned with these in my estimation fascinating scientific details. What you'll find with Machine is a novel less concerned about the characters and their individual story, instead the focus is more about the external processes that shape them that constantly apart of their lives but largely unnoticed. I realize that all the precise scientific detail and jargon might come off as a bit dry and boring, and is not seamlessly integrated with the story as some would like, but I found Machine to be interestingly straightforward and at times beautifully written book exploring big ideas in a way fictional setting that I understood. It certainly isn't a book for everyone, but I'll definitely be rereading this one again
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By Roger Bagula on November 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't say that I like this book.
What I can say that it has style and form.
Was it worth reading?
Following the souls or hearts of dawn horses
through a series of modern events
does seem to have interest
and is a unique approach to the development
of the world?
I,for one, question the motives of such a spirit guide.
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More About the Author

Peter Adolphsen was born in 1972 and attended the Danish Writers School from 1993-95. At 25, he made his debut as an author with a collection of short prose entitled SMALL STORIES, followed in 2000 by SMALL STORIES 2. His novel MACHINE was published in English in 2008.