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The Visiting Professor: A Novel of Chaos Hardcover – May 18, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 226 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; 1St Edition edition (May 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585678163
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585678167
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,817,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Forsaking his customary thriller territory, Littell ( The Revolutionist ) here finds fertile new ground in the farther reaches of mathematics, which prove a wellspring of rich and consistently surprising comedy. When Lemuel Falk, a Russian "theoretical chaoticist on the lam from terrestrial chaos," arrives to take up his visiting fellowship at Backwater University, he is immediately confronted by a blizzard of Americana: is it absolute confusion or, as Lemuel suspects, merely "fool's randomness"--the facade of disorder behind which lurks a pure meaning? Many turn to him for the answer: a dope-smoking Orthodox rabbi seeking "the chaos at the heart of the heart of the Torah," a libidinous female barber named Occasional Rain, and a multinational throng of spooks and spies all seeking to use Lemuel's mathematical genius for their encryption programs. A not-quite-innocent abroad fleeing Stalinist ghosts, the professor quests across the spiraling chaos of the American landscape, becoming in succession or in combination a lover, theologian, political protestor, media celebrity, homicide investigator and, finally, a refugee in the deceptively tranquil aisles of the local E-Z Mart. Littell's fast-paced satire is by turns bawdy, cerebral and touching.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

When Lemuel Falk first arrives from the Soviet Union to take up a visiting professorship at the Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Chaos-Related Studies in upstate New York, he expects to discover a land where streets are paved with Sony Walkmans. Instead, he encounters a beautiful female barber who cadges luxury items from the grocery store, state troopers protecting the construction of a nuclear waste dump, and a serial murderer whose victims show absolutely no connection with each other. Drawn in to these issues--at first helplessly and then with more determination--the beleaguered Russian is able at last to confront and deal with his own past. Quirky characters and linguistic byplay insure the book's appeal to sophisticated readers. Littell is the author of An Agent in Place (Bantam, 1991) . -- Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mom of 3 on February 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I adored this book. My only concern was my fear that I would laugh out loud while reading it during a delay at LaGuardia. I found the characters fascinating, the professor's observations/internal monologue delightful, and the story line engaging. If you are looking for witty and humorous observations about life from a different perspective - all mixed with a bit of romance and "whodunit" - this book is for you. If it is hard-core action/suspense you seek, you'd be better served by some of Mr. Littell's other books. In hindsight, this book may have been better received had he penned it under a female pseudonym. I loved the book and it is receiving rave reviews from my friends as well. How about another one like this for the gals, Mr Littell??
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Angharad de Johnstone on April 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read this book over a decade ago, and the story has always stayed with me. I was pleased to see that it is still in print. The concept that caught, and held my interest, is the notion of understanding where the core conspiracy lies in each of our lives, and in our relationships. You'll have to read the book to understand, but I think it's worth it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a little unlike other Littell books I have read mostly dealing with espionage. It is very different, involving a visiting professor of Chaos from Russia at an advanced educational institute somewhere in New York State. It is in places very, very funny. It eventually involves visits from US, Russian, Syrian and Israeli intelligence each of which offers the professor escalating amounts of dough to work for them. It pokes fun at the intelligence orgs and the FBI. He meets a young coed who is involved in "scoring" (i.e. stealing) food from a grocery store because she knows that the prices are increased to account for her stealing and she feels a responsibility to support their prices. That meeting eventually turns onto an affair. Initially he rooms with a Rabbi from Brooklyn who is at the Institute. Littell's ear for the Brooklyn Jewish idiom is wonderful. It is a light hearted, funny read, but in the first third of the book I wondered "where on earth is this going". I'm glad I read it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very different from the other Littell books in that the story was obstructed by the heavy sexual content. Because of this content the uniqueness of his usual endings gets obscured.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joseph L. Burke on November 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I want at least one character in a novel that would interest me in real life. There are none in this book. Failing that, I'd like a plot with some substance. Uh-uh. As a reader I will plow through a pile of manure to find the poverbial pony; something of substance. A theme, a pace, a gift for language, or whatever. Not in this novel, friends. The professor from Russia finds problems with American colloquialisms: "Wearing your heart on your sleeve" - "Getting down to brass tacks" - etc. This is humorous? The prof also discovers sex; oral, group, swapping partners, etc. Sex itself is a victim of this author's depictions. The professor also solves a mystery of who is a serial killer; that part of the book is so improbable that it is not only unfunny, it is pitable. To sum up: this story is as weighty as a soap bubble but nowhere near as pretty. Don't waste your time.
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More About the Author

Bestselling author Robert Littell has been ranked amongst John Le Carre and Graham Greene for his masterful spy fiction. A Newsweek journalist in a previous incarnation, Littell has been writing about the Soviet Union and Russians since his first novel, the espionage classic The Defection of A.J.Lewinter. Among his numerous critically acclaimed novels are The October Circle, Mother Russia, The Debriefing, The Sisters, The Revolutionist, The Once and Future Spy, An Agent in Place, The Visiting Professor, the New York Times bestselling The Company (adapted for a TNT mini-series), and Legends (winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Best Thriller of 2005) and For the Future of Israel, a book of conversations with Shimon Peres. Littell is an American who makes his home in France.

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