Visiting Professor: A Novel of Chaos

Visiting Professor: A Novel of Chaos

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by Robert Littell
     
 

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In one of his most original novels, Littell explores the relationships between randomness and God, chaos and sex, a butterfly tattoo and occasional rain, the going and the getting there.
Lemuel Falk, a Russian theoretical chaoticist on the lam from terrestrial chaos, has been applying for permission to leave Russia every year for the past twenty-three years.

Overview

In one of his most original novels, Littell explores the relationships between randomness and God, chaos and sex, a butterfly tattoo and occasional rain, the going and the getting there.
Lemuel Falk, a Russian theoretical chaoticist on the lam from terrestrial chaos, has been applying for permission to leave Russia every year for the past twenty-three years. Because he knows state secrets, he has not been allowed to cross the state s frontiers. Now, suddenly, his request for an exit visa is approved a sure sign that the situation is even more chaotic than he had imagined. Falk accepts a chair as a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Chaos-Related Studies in upstate New York. Arriving in the Promised Land under the impression that the streets are paved with Sony Walkmans, he plunges into the heart of another kind of chaos. No sooner has he arrived than he sets off on an academic cat fight, falls in love with a hairdresser half his age, and becomes a self-styled gumshoe tracking a serial killer.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Forsaking his customary thriller territory, Littell ( The Revolutionist ) here finds fertile new ground in the farther reaches of mathematics, which prove a wellspring of rich and consistently surprising comedy. When Lemuel Falk, a Russian ``theoretical chaoticist on the lam from terrestrial chaos,'' arrives to take up his visiting fellowship at Backwater University, he is immediately confronted by a blizzard of Americana: is it absolute confusion or, as Lemuel suspects, merely ``fool's randomness''--the facade of disorder behind which lurks a pure meaning? Many turn to him for the answer: a dope-smoking Orthodox rabbi seeking ``the chaos at the heart of the heart of the Torah,'' a libidinous female barber named Occasional Rain, and a multinational throng of spooks and spies all seeking to use Lemuel's mathematical genius for their encryption programs. A not-quite-innocent abroad fleeing Stalinist ghosts, the professor quests across the spiraling chaos of the American landscape, becoming in succession or in combination a lover, theologian, political protestor, media celebrity, homicide investigator and, finally, a refugee in the deceptively tranquil aisles of the local E-Z Mart. Littell's fast-paced satire is by turns bawdy, cerebral and touching. (Mar.)
Library Journal
When Lemuel Falk first arrives from the Soviet Union to take up a visiting professorship at the Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Chaos-Related Studies in upstate New York, he expects to discover a land where streets are paved with Sony Walkmans. Instead, he encounters a beautiful female barber who cadges luxury items from the grocery store, state troopers protecting the construction of a nuclear waste dump, and a serial murderer whose victims show absolutely no connection with each other. Drawn in to these issues--at first helplessly and then with more determination--the beleaguered Russian is able at last to confront and deal with his own past. Quirky characters and linguistic byplay insure the book's appeal to sophisticated readers. Littell is the author of An Agent in Place (Bantam, 1991) . -- Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.
Denise Perry Donavin
"I am on the lam from terrestrial chaos, but I seem to take chaos with me wherever I go," states Lemuel Falk, a Soviet professor of chaos visiting an American institute dedicated to such studies. Beyond the basic chaos of the universe, Lemuel creates a good deal of the garden variety through his ignorance of American idioms and culture and his dealings with students at a nearby university. Along the way, he works to discover the identity of a serial killer, which after all is just a study of randomness--"his life's passion." Heavy-hitting humor from the author of "The Once and Future Spy" (1990).

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585678167
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
05/18/2006
Pages:
226
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.97(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Robert Littell's novels include the New York Times bestseller The Company, The October Circle, Mother Russia, The Amateur, The Once and Future Spy, An Agent in Place, The Visiting Professor, and Walking Back the Cat. A former Newsweek journalist, he is an American currently living in France.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Martel, France
Date of Birth:
January 8, 1935
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
Education:
B.A., Alfred University, 1956

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Visiting Professor: A Novel of Chaos 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great read.