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The Dialogues of Time and Entropy

The Dialogues of Time and Entropy

by Aryeh Lev Stollman

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Aryeh Lev Stollman's first novel, The Far Euphrates, was hailed by The New York Times Book Review as "radiant" and "remarkable." The Boston Globe called his second novel, The Illuminated Soul, "profound" and declared that "Stollman has forged a uniquely Jewish perspective on the classic mind-body problem." But Stollman's career began with stories, which have appeared


Aryeh Lev Stollman's first novel, The Far Euphrates, was hailed by The New York Times Book Review as "radiant" and "remarkable." The Boston Globe called his second novel, The Illuminated Soul, "profound" and declared that "Stollman has forged a uniquely Jewish perspective on the classic mind-body problem." But Stollman's career began with stories, which have appeared in leading literary journals, including American Short Fiction, The Yale Review, The Southwest Review, and Story magazine. Collected here, they address the themes he has grappled with so memorably in his novels: "the pull of the past over the present and the profound effects that one person can have on another" (San Francisco Chronicle); the aftershocks of the Holocaust; the convergence of science, the imagination, and the spiritual; the way art can shape our identities. Most of Stollman's stories address the simultaneous gift and burden of prodigious talent -- the euphoria of creation and discovery, balanced by the weight of responsibility and the distractions of success.

In "Enfleurage," we meet a cantor haunted by regret; in "The Little Poet," an eleven-year-old aspiring bard whose literary gifts and aspirations outweight his compassion. In the title story, "The Dialogues of Time and Entropy," a medical researcher's possible discovery of a cure for a rare and fatal disease threatens to destroy his life as his marriage deteriorates and his ambivalence toward his autistic daughter increases. These are stories infused with a deep sense of humanity and an impressive range of knowledge -- of science, music, religion, and language itself. In them. Stollman examines our weaknesses while always evoking a sense of awe, and delight, in the face of seemingly limitless human potential. As in his novels, he blends the everyday with the mystical, the mundane with the extraordinary, and the waking world with the world of dreams. In the words of Forward, his stories "open windows in the mind through which the voice of ancient wisdom can still be heard."

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Stollman is adept at animating the intellectual innocence and youthful erotic frustrations of characters like Amir. He also explores with great sensitivity our human frustrations with a universe that remains suspended somewhere between science and religion, appearing exquisitely rational at times but ultimately defying scientific explanation. A neurologist by trade, Stollman seeks in The Dialogues of Time and Entropy to provide a suggestive literary framework for reconciling the wonders of science, the inexplicable power of desire and the mysteries of God. — Laura Ciolkowski
Publishers Weekly
At the intersection of family, faith and science, Stollman's Jewish protagonists find urgent moral dilemmas. This probing, intellectually acute story collection by the author of The Illuminated Soul is set in Israel, Canada and the U.S., and writers and scientists figure prominently. In "Mr. Mitochondria," a nuclear researcher in Beersheba, Israel, considers the impact of a plague of locusts on both his work and family as he attempts to come to terms with the possibility that his child could die from the protective pesticide spraying. The title story covers similar moral ground as a pair of physicists journey to Israel (chatting about time and entropy along the way) in search of a miracle cure for their autistic child, only to have Middle East politics turn their situation upside down. A teenage boy explores his Berlin-born mother's obsession with a popular WWII-era film in "Die Grosse Liebe," leading him to a startling family revelation. "If I Have Found Favor in Your Eyes" depicts a Jewish adolescent's fixation on his new Hasidic neighbors as he copes with the divorce of his bohemian parents. Stollman's moral intensity occasionally shades into grandiose sentiment ("she needs so desperately to weep-for all of the children in everlasting time, compelled like their mother to wander forever in a wandering world"), but for the most part the stories offer lively conversations and likably self-effacing characters who find themselves in an ethical or spiritual pickle. As the nuclear scientist says to his wife (the author of a sci-fi epic), "I have faith, but it's not an antidote to reality." Rights sold in Germany. (Feb. 10) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Tales of mystical wonder abound in Stollman's first collection of short stories, which continues the themes of his two award-winning novels, The Far Euphrates and The Illuminated Soul. Played out here are the competing claims of art, science, and spirituality; the life-changing influence of one person on another; the lingering effects of the Holocaust; the sustaining and confining force of family ties; and the enduring fabric of Jewish culture. Like the novels, the ten stories are mostly set in the author's hometown of Windsor, Ont., and involve a boy who experiences a life-changing event. In "Mr. Mitochondria," a family has relocated from Toronto to Israel and lives in the Negev desert, where the young son talks to his long-dead brother. In "Enfleurage," a boy in Windsor, son of the rabbi, befriends the lonely wife of the cantor, a frustrated opera singer who instead of liturgical melodies sings arias from Tosca on Rosh Hashanah. In "Die Grosse Liebe," a hidden love is revealed, as Joseph discovers his mother's passion for a movie that explores the nature of love. These highly charged stories are eminently readable; recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/02.]-Molly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, MD Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Stories about the everyday reverberate with magic and tragedy. It’s not uncommon for writers to publish a collection of shorter material after a novel or two has met with a high degree of acclaim. Fortunately, in Stollman’s case (The Far Euphrates, 1997; The Illuminated Soul, 2002), the pieces here are taken from his early stories, which first got him noticed, as opposed to a random assemblage of short, recent pieces gathered up and released for a quick buck in between novels. In "Die Grosse Liebe," the narrator does little more than describe his German mother’s near-obsessive love of an old movie, The Great Love, which she never revealed until after the narrator’s father’s death. Yet somehow, the tale becomes a moving meditation on love and the past, a son communicating with his closed-off mother through flickering, black-and-white images. The death of parents echoes through many of the pieces, like "New Memories," an enjoyable trifle about a boy whose father has just died but who spends a wonderful summer with his mother’s cousin, Blossom. Blossom is too obviously a life-loving symbol, yet somehow the story works, a jaunty smile through the sadness. In "If I Have Found Favor In Your Eyes," a young girl whose parents have recently separated becomes spiritually infatuated with the Orthodox couple who move into their apartment building, much to the chagrin of her nonreligious, concert pianist mother. One of the lesser efforts, "Mr. Mitochrondria," is set in a small Israeli town about to inundated by a cloudlike infestation of locusts. This doom-laden setting is paired with a story about two boys’ relationship with their writer mother and researcher father. Like all of Stollman’s work, it’sexquisitely crafted, but unlike most of the pieces here, doesn’t leave much of an impression. An expert weaver, Stollman brings together themes of religion, science, and love into an emotional whole.

Product Details

Riverhead Books
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Product dimensions:
5.06(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)

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Meet the Author

Aryehlev Stollman is a neuroradiologist and the author of two books, The Illuminated Soul and The Far Euphrates, which is an American Library Association Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Review Recommended Book of the Year, and the winner of a Wilbur Award and Lambda Award.

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