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Debut that tries to ask what’s happened to the pursuit of genius in corporate America.

A genius has been born in Ionia, Wyoming. His name is Edward. He might not score high on an IQ test—neither would Michelangelo—and he tends to study smarmy things like the telepathic ability of dogs. And Einstein. In fact, he’s obsessed with Einstein because the great physicist was 26 when he made his big discovery, and Edward’s 26, too. The pressure’s on, Edward’s very future on the line. And with all the smart people in the world heading into the Internet, Edward has allowed himself to take the break of jumping from his think-tank to a start-up called Gleebs (Global Leading Edge E-Business Solutions). Here, he finds contentment if not challenge: “I close my eyes and inhale the intoxicating scent of fresh coffee and economic revolution. This is where I belong.” And is this so different, really, from Einstein’s work as a patent clerk? What follows is a relatively routine tale of office life (populated with self-help books, CNNfn, and Jar Jar Binks) spliced together with details of Einstein’s early life—and the suggestion that Edward might be headed for genius after all. The details of modern physics may be meant to titillate, but their recitation, in Edward’s not-so-sophisticated voice, makes them sound far less smart than you might wish. Amusing juxtapositions arise—Big Bang theory alongside intense discussion of the importance of international marketing—and, though the lack of a plot may be intended to mirror Edward’s directionlessness as his brilliance confronts a vapid world, the device is actually detrimental in creating chunks of narrative null space. Edward is on his way to discovering that out he is ordinary. How can this not be a disappointment for us, too?

Relativity for the Common Man meets an average modern-office novel.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7867-1136-1
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2003