Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Biology of Luck Paperback – October 7, 2013
|New from||Used from|
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Appel—a New York sightseeing guide, psychiatrist, bioethicist, and prolific, prizewinning playwright and short story writer—offers a nimbly satiric variation on Joyce’s Ulysses in this tale of one summer day in the life of Larry Bloom, a nebbishy New York City tour guide and struggling writer. A self-described prisoner of his own inhibitions, Larry is hopelessly in love with a beautiful, unconventional, and confused young woman, Starshine, who has agreed to have dinner with him. As in every romantic comedy, forces conspire to keep them apart, but in Appel’s clever, vigorously written, intently observed, and richly emotional tale, hilarious mishaps are wildly complicated by the intersections between life and Larry’s novel about Starshine. From bagel-throwing demonstrators attacking a group of puzzled Dutch tourists to Starshine’s bicycle odyssey in quest of a fruit basket for her Alzheimer’s-afflicted aunt to the mysterious powers of a one-armed building superintendent, Appel’s funky urban fairy tale is spiked with canny observations about human nature. Do we inherit or create luck? Is beauty a burden or a gift? Can love transcend fantasy? Seductive and thought-provoking. --Donna Seaman
"There are not many books like "The Biology of Luck." Why? Because few authors have the hyper-verbal skills of Jacob Appel." -- New City Lit
"An inventive exploration of the place where love, chance, expectations and ambitions intersect in the city that never sleeps." - Kirkus Review
There's a richness of allusion (besides the obvious nods to Joyce and his Bloom in June, Appel's loving paean to his hometown pays extensive tribute to New York's twin titans Melville and Whitman) in Biology that makes a few of Appel's critically beloved contemporaries seem almost rootless by comparison. - The Masters Review
" We're offered a nuanced and sympathetic exploration of both characters, but the nuance and sympathy in Starshine's narrative also suggest the fullness of Larry's love, the degree to which Starshine has come to rule his imagination."--The Colorado Review
"Appel captures the sounds, smells and feeling of human idiosyncracies, describing each person and place with layers of specifics and closely observed characters." -- North American Review
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
A truly unique book (which is something I love) that is a novel within a novel. The story is told in the course of one day of Larry Bloom's life. The chapters alternate between the story of Larry's day and Larry's actual novel about Starshine, the woman he has fallen in love with. The book is engaging, clever, and runs the full gamut of emotions throughout. All the characters are interesting, while also being flawed. It was easy to relate to Larry, while at the same time thinking to myself "what are you doing, you dolt!?".
Appel has a unique ability to make you both love and hate his characters at the same time. You end up pulling for them, while also shaking your head at their blundering choices. They are pathetic at times, but you also end up having empathy for them. It's a great balancing act and shows his true talent. The story can be interpreted so many different ways, depending on if you are an optimist, pessimist or realist. His characters are real. As complex as the reader wants them to be, or as basic as they want them to be.
I'd recommend this to any literary fiction readers, fans of unique writing styles, and readers who like a good, solid, character driven, human drama. It really is a fantastic piece of work.
In a genial way, TBoL has a firm literary underpinning. The book, for example, is set in a lovely day in June, when Leopold... I mean Larry Bloom and Starshine take the reader on excursions in New York's five boroughs. Furthermore, there are clear references to Walt Whitman, whose powerful sense of the world's innate beauty is not unlike the late flowering beauty of Starshine. Meanwhile, Appel, imagining Larry at the Battery with passel of Dutch tourists, actually becomes wryly Whitman-esque.
"Everywhere surges the exhilaration of late morning, the scramble, the blitz, the frenetic maelstrom of unfilled orders and unfilled promises, the hailing of taxis, the quoting of prices, the leveraging of empires and the placement of lunch reservations and the determined trampling of the morning's ticker-tape that precedes the great tsunami, noon, when for a fleeting instance the city takes stock of itself, cataloging what has been accomplished and what may still be accomplished...."
Melville, another New Yorker, is also a reference point.
"Melville is Larry's proper graven image. Nearsighted, homely, infirm Melville, the patron saint of the underappreciated, scribbling away at his custom house desk through indigence, through ignominy, through the premature loss of his sons, denied both acclaim in life and eulogy in death."
Nonetheless, the engine of this book may well be Ziggy Borasch, who advised Larry on his incomplete dissertation, "The Fire Last Time: Public Disaster and Private Response in New York City, 1869-1914."Why so? First, TBoL is a book with elegant sentences. And it is the life's work of the eccentric Borasch to write "the great American sentence." Secondly, Borasch drives this book because his academic expertise lies in the field of coincidence, where he has written the unreadable "Fate, Fluke, and Happenstance." And in TBoL, coincidence abounds. Usually, I consider coincidence a failing in a novel, since it indicates the author couldn't pull a solution out of his or her narrative. But Appel absolutely embraces coincidence, in the manner of, well, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. And his use of coincidence is delightful and ingenious.
TBoL is not a perfect book. It is difficult, after all, to fall into the Hudson from the parapet of Castle Clinton. (Or did I misread?) But Appel compensates for this with a charming map of New York City, which helps readers visualize the peregrinations of Larry and Starshine in New York on a beautiful June day. This map, BTW, is not unlike the map of Yoknapatawpha County in The Portable Faulkner (Penguin Classics).
Most recent customer reviews
* I won this in a giveaway on Booklikes in exchange for an honest review.
Personally, I'm not a fan of this book.Read more