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Particles and Luck Hardcover – March 23, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (March 23, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679422854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679422853
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,542,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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 C‚zanne''?) 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.

More About the Author

Louis B. Jones is the author of three New York Times Notable Books - "Ordinary Money", "Particles and Luck," and "California's Over." He is an NEA fellow and a fellow of the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. His newest novel, "Radiance," was published by Counterpoint Press in May 2011. "Radiance's" dark mirror-image twin, "Innocence," will be published in March 2013, also by Counterpoint.

He's been a regular reviewer for the New York Times Book Review and has served as visiting writer at a number of colleges around the country. For some years he has acted as Fiction Director for the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. The author lives with his family in Nevada City, CA. For more info, please visit: www.louisbjones.com

You may follow the author's musings about his writing life and other adventures here: http://www.louisbjones.com/recentwriting.html

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 13, 1997
Format: Paperback
... or vice versa, a hilarious and poignant human comedy with a sly thread of cosmic musing woven throughout. The balance between the epistemology and the compulsively readable story is utterly deft. One thinks of John Updike at his best, reading this book--there is the same high elegance, the richness of language and inventiveness, the rootedness in perfectly-observed suburban reality, and the wedding of cosmic and local realities in a dazzlingly graceful prose. The meaning is never imposed; it glints through the touching, inevitably ridiculous particularities of the characters in language that is itself a kind of music and a kind of forgiveness. The hero, Mark Perdue, is a soul at once lost and found, and searching; and in his neighbor Mark, Jones has given us one of the most poignant minor characters I've encountered in literature, deftly realized, quixotic, ludicrous and noble. And like all of Jones's work, the payoff is the quiet glory of the humanly real, the tested gold of faithfulness affirmed through temptation and the vistas of vastness that can only truly open out from limitations embraced. There is also an unobtrusive subtext on the ways and obscure means of creativity itself, its vicissitudes and unforeseen flowerings. A lovely book, perfectly shaped and vividly paced. It will send you in search of Jones's terrific first novel, Ordinary Money and his most recent, California's Over, which is a joy too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Algernon D'Ammassa on September 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a novel in which questions that are literally meta-physical (the protagonist is an acclaimed physicist who feels, despite his youth, like he has been put out to pasture after one phenomenal paper) seem unpretentious and accessible because of the humorous contexts in which they arise. Author Jones has very smartly composed a spiritual novel as a domestic farce. It works beautifully.
Jones makes it look easy. He writes with remarkable insight about every little detail of moment-to-moment interactions with time, place, and other people. The character of physicist Mark Perdue and the condo he shares with his new wife (still permeated with "new Mazda" smell - the condo, that is) is beautifully wrought, with conflicting desires and interests, an infantile boredom sitting on top of a metaphysical question which begins to find expression after a sleepless night defending property lines with his unlikely neighbor, Roger.
The novel bravely walks a line with its satirical view of NoCal suburbia, and the beer-lubricated choices made by two very different, rather eccentric men in a backyard that is still a dirt-covered lot scored by tractor trails; and it takes us into some truly farcical territory without losing its credibility or Mark Perdue's hidden longing. Recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By exhausted_homeowner on July 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
In "Particles and Luck" Louis B. Jones created the funniest and
most successful contemporary picaresque novel since the late
and much lamented Duncan O'Toole's "Confederacy of Dunces".
Unfortunately the book is still by and large unknown -- take a
chance, you'll be glad you did!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 5, 1997
Format: Paperback
This book is as clear a statement of religious piety as you could find, in these agnostic, post-religious times. It's about physics. It's about ultimate "reality." The plot involves one night in the life of a Berkeley physicist, in which he almost commits adultery, confronts his neighbor in a property-line dispute, and contemplates the ultimate nature of physical reality. Obviously, Jones did a lot of research into Quantum Physics. He presents Quantum Physics's weirdness, here, in a most lucid poetry. Basically, this book is about faith. The necessity of faith. (Fidelity in a marriage, as well as faith in the weird idea that the physical world will go on existing from minute to minute.) I wish I could quote whole long passages here, to show how the book feels.
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Format: Paperback
PaL is packed with some of the oddest dialogue, description, and characterization I've ever come across. It is, by turns, laugh-out-loud funny and meditative. It reminds me a little of Don DeLillo's superb -- and also supremely quirky -- "Ratner's Star". These, and novels like them, are difficult to describe, short of quoting them at length. Rather than assume the mantle of reviewer-as-proxy-for-author, therefore, I should simply say, read this novel and enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good writing but very arrogant. Physics proffessor is important but the poor pizza guy, whose life is falling apart, is not. Little people apparently don't matter in this book and possibly to this writer.
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