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Publisher's Summary

Philip is in love with Alice. As the novel opens, he is beginning to lose her - not to another man, as he fears, but to, literally, nothing. Alice is a physicist, and a team at the university where both she and Philip work has created a hole, a vacuum, a doorway of nothingness inside the laboratory. They call it "Lack". Alice becomes obsessed with Lack, just as Philip is obsessed by Alice.

The novel is at the same time an astute and wise portrait of unrequited love (albeit of a very unusual kind), a hilarious academic parody, a novel of ideas, and a social satire. It is utterly original, but in the school of Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Katherine Dunn, and David Foster Wallace.

Passion, humor, yearning, and knowledge are blended together in a suspenseful love story that could be characterized as "American magical realism".

©1998 Jonathan Lethem; (P)2007 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Exceptionally clever. . . . A book of compelling ideas, of intellectual conflict, of human frailty and desire. And it's funny." (Dallas Morning News)
"Jonathan Lethem has succeeded in delivering a wonderland on the side of the looking glass," (San Francisco Bay Guardian)
"Lethem is opening blue sky for American fiction. . . . He is rapidly evolving into his own previously uncataloged species." (Village Voice Literary Supplement)

What members say

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Early Lethem

If you like the way Lethem's mind works, this book is a look at the way it worked in a more formative stage. It's not a rich, mature work like Chronic City. But it has the wordplay and ideaplay of his later work, in a simpler world, an exploration of something vs. nothing, the nature of reality, and love that doesn't really work.

Title notwithstanding, there's no satisfying carnality in the book.

For someone wanting to try Lethem, I'd recommend starting with Chronic City instead of this. CC is nonstop brilliance, inventive in a way that I'd compare with Humboldt's Gift, though ultimately less literary but more crazy in a good way.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Intriguing book

A definite for time traveler or sci-fi fans. I really enjoyed this book, can't wait to see if he writes some more along this line. The ending was great!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Story

Contender: Most Punchable Protagonist of the Year

I found this book through the Lab Lit List, which tried to collect novels which depict science and scientists as they actually are.

The narrator of this book is the partner of a physicist at the center of a major discovery. He is, as a character, infuriatingly self-centered. He demands his partner's undivided attention, and insists loudly that she and her colleagues give equal consideration to linguistics and critical theory as a means to understanding particle physics.

In a book featuring a sentient miniature black hole, my suspension of disbelief was ultimately broken by the notion that a practicing physicist would be engaged to such an unlovable ass.

  • Overall
  • Elizabeth
  • Bellevue, WA, United States
  • 01-21-10

Odd little book

I didn't hate this, but I didn't love it either. At least I wanted to finish it to find out how it concluded. Someone recommended the book to me and I probably should have done more research before buying it,as I'm not generally a fan of Sci-Fi.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kate
  • AucklandNew Zealand
  • 03-15-09

couldn't get into this book at all

this is the only book I have downloaded that I can't listen to past the first hour.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful