From Publishers Weekly
In this smartly paced novel from the author of Einstein's Dreams
, a divorced, former banker witnesses a supernatural event, inspiring him to continue the search for something that has hovered in the back of his mind throughout his life. A promising, handsome student in his younger years, middle-aged David struggles to restore order to his life and relationships after being sacked from his middling bank job. The search leads him to the local funeral home, where he takes a job as an apprentice among a cast less hip than the Six Feet Under
crew, but compelling in a quieter way—the director, Martin, is a fatherly figure whose allegiance to his inherited profession rules an existence otherwise restricted by severe agoraphobia. After David has a vision he can't describe in words in the home's slumber room, he gets agitated to the point where he is compelled to confess to a loose-lipped friend. Soon, David's vision becomes a local media event, with unwanted consequences. Familiar questions about the existence of God, life after death and the fluidity of time arise, and the cast doesn't get the detail it deserves. But the momentum that builds alongside David's ensuing psychological turmoil is enough to carry the story. (Oct.)
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In straightforward prose, Lightman tells the story of a divorced and childless forty-two-year-old man whose primary ambition has been to "understand the world," rather than change it. Believing that logic holds life together, he struggles to be content with his limited lot, but also admits to "searching for something" beyond himself, "some totality, which can be glimpsed only between the cracks." When he is let go from a mid-level banking position, he finds work in a mortuary, where, one day, he sees something he can only describe as a "vapor" apparently emanating from, or getting sucked into, a corpse. In the ensuing frenzya local paper gets wind of the storyhe is forced to wrestle with fundamental beliefs about human existence. Unfortunately, Lightmans fine sense of the upheavals that can occur when an ordinary person confronts the inexplicable is marred by the hollowness of his central character.
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