From Publishers Weekly
As readers of Jones's debut novel, Ordinary Money , discovered, he has a keen eye for the foolish and incongruous moments in daily existence, and a knack for portraying the hard-pressed lives of those on the edge of financial disaster. The protagonist of his second novel, theoretical physicist Mark Perdue, is at the other end of the financial spectrum: at age 23 he published a brilliant theory and now, four years later, he is rich and famous and holds a prestigious chair at Berkeley. But the next-door neighbor in his condo development is just such another feckless down-and-outer: Roger Hoberman's pizza restaurant is failing, his divorced wife is rejecting his efforts at reconciliation and he is about to be evicted from his home. Even so, Roger involves Mark in a harebrained scheme to thwart an attempt to press an old claim against their properties. Mark, who feels guilty about his good luck--including his recent marriage to a beautiful and brainy lawyer--is drawn into Roger's plan to install fenceposts on their property in the dead of night. An absurdist comic caper ensues, fueled by many beers and even more contretemps. Jones succeeds in conveying the cluttered, perpetually analyzing mind of a scientist: Mark is obsessive-compulsive about observing certain rituals, and his attention constantly wanders as he ponders the nature of time and space. Jones is equally adept at capturing the oddly endearing Roger's blue-collar lifestyle and manner of speaking. But perhaps because Mark's ruminations tend to slow the narrative, the novel never gains the dramatic momentum of Ordinary Money . Even so, as Mark realizes that blind human nature can outwit scientific knowledge, the novel moves to a satisfying close.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A pivotal 24 hours in the life of a yuppie physicist whose neighbor persuades him that their condos are in danger of being seized by a faceless corporation in a bizarre legal action. Already over the hill at 27, Berkeley physicist Mark Perdue waves goodbye to his bride Audrey, a Palo Alto patent attorney busy in licensing negotiations of properties on the theme of the Pope's impending US visit, and steps quietly over one of those cartoon cliffs that continue to hold you up as long as you don't notice anything amiss. Roger Hoberman, Mark's ludicrously unsuccessful pizza- franchiser neighbor in the Cobblestone Hearth Village Estates, has received a letter from the Acquisitions Systems Company of America claiming adverse possession of a plot of land that runs through both men's condos. A quick runaround with Victor Person, Esq., suggests that some unspecified ritual (the ``livery of Czanne''?) performed that Halloween night may be the only way to keep Acquisitions Systems and its mysterious nuncio, Big Adcox, at bay. Rousing himself from his guilty flirtation with Iranian graduate assistant Shubi Behedji, Mark joins Roger in his vigil on the property line, discovering gradually that the threat of an appearance by Big Adcox pales beside sweet- tempered Roger's problems with the condo corporation--which wants to evict him for nonpayment of his mortgage--and with his aspiring anesthesiologist ex-wife Dot, who's sworn out a complaint against him. Linking fashionable deconstructive attacks on the existence of the physical universe to Big Adcox's remark that ``all claims of property originate in a hallucination,'' Jones takes Mark through a bumpy, understated series of domestic adventures that confirm his faith in the logical errors that keep his assumptions about property, love, and physical existence afloat. Whimsical, grave, and a lot more stylized in its plot and its cast of weirdos than Jones's equally charming first novel, Ordinary Money (1990). An elementary background in theoretical physics, while not required, would be helpful. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.