Particles and Luck

Overview

Particles and Luck is the story of one night, two men, and an invisible third force that has brought these two men together. Mark Perdue and Roger Hoberman have nothing in common - except the joy of adjoining yards. Mark is a whiz-kid physicist who knows that the "genius" stature and the endowed chair at Berkeley that have been accorded him are bits of dumb luck; Roger is the owner of a pizza franchise whose luck has turned dumb - in financial and marital distress, he has been denied child visitation rights but ...
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Particles and Luck

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Overview

Particles and Luck is the story of one night, two men, and an invisible third force that has brought these two men together. Mark Perdue and Roger Hoberman have nothing in common - except the joy of adjoining yards. Mark is a whiz-kid physicist who knows that the "genius" stature and the endowed chair at Berkeley that have been accorded him are bits of dumb luck; Roger is the owner of a pizza franchise whose luck has turned dumb - in financial and marital distress, he has been denied child visitation rights but not babysitting obligations. Roger and Mark have just been notified of a claim of adverse possession on their property, effective the next day. Particles and Luck is the story of the Halloween night they spend together, trying to imagine how this threat will materialize. Camped out amidst pieces of Roger's Naugahyde furniture, warmed by a pile of Kingsford briquettes, fortified by some frozen peas and meat that has not quite thawed, marking boundary lines with Oakland Raiders pennants - this will be a night unlike any other in contemporary fiction.

Mark Perdue is a young physicist who has been catapulted into fame and fortune by nothing other than good luck. His neighbor, Roger Hoberman, has seen only luck's downside. Now, luck--in the form of an adverse property claim--is about to bring them together in this transcendently wise comedy of manners and epistemology.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hilarious ... gracefully written...[Jones] has created a quirky but wholly real work in which to examine themes of fate and coincidence in a seemingly effortless manner.... Every character can be experienced with shifting feelings of tenderness and exasperation, hope and despair."

-- Chicago Tribune

Mark Perdue and Roger Hoberman have nothing in common -- except the joy of adjoining yards. Mark is a whiz-kid physicist who knows that his "genius" stature and his endowed chair at Berkeley are bits Of dumb luck; Roger is the owner of a pizza franchise whose luck has turned dumb -- in financial and marital distress, he has been denied child visitation rights but not babysitting obligations.

Now luck, in the form of an adverse claim on their property, brings Mark and Roger together for a fateful Halloween night neither of them will ever forget. Loony, humane, and transcendently wise, Particles and Luck is an irresistible comedy of manners and epistemology.

"A lovely and invigorating novel...a domestic farce and social satire. Jones writes [an] engaging novelistic equivalent of a unified field theory -- in this case, a link between the human heart and the behavior of subatomic particles."

-- Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

"Jones is the real thing -- a writer with something to say and his own way of saying it."

-- Scott Turow

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679745990
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1994
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

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