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 A pivotal 24 hours in the life of a yuppie physicist whose neighbor persuades him that their condos are in danger of being seized by a faceless corporation in a bizarre legal action. Already over the hill at 27, Berkeley physicist Mark Perdue waves goodbye to his bride Audrey, a Palo Alto patent attorney busy in licensing negotiations of properties on the theme of the Pope's impending US visit, and steps quietly over one of those cartoon cliffs that continue to hold you up as long as you don't notice anything amiss. Roger Hoberman, Mark's ludicrously unsuccessful pizza- franchiser neighbor in the Cobblestone Hearth Village Estates, has received a letter from the Acquisitions Systems Company of America claiming adverse possession of a plot of land that runs through both men's condos. A quick runaround with Victor Person, Esq., suggests that some unspecified ritual (the ``livery of CÇzanne''?) performed that Halloween night may be the only way to keep Acquisitions Systems and its mysterious nuncio, Big Adcox, at bay. Rousing himself from his guilty flirtation with Iranian graduate assistant Shubi Behedji, Mark joins Roger in his vigil on the property line, discovering gradually that the threat of an appearance by Big Adcox pales beside sweet- tempered Roger's problems with the condo corporation--which wants to evict him for nonpayment of his mortgage--and with his aspiring anesthesiologist ex-wife Dot, who's sworn out a complaint against him. Linking fashionable deconstructive attacks on the existence of the physical universe to Big Adcox's remark that ``all claims of property originate in a hallucination,'' Jones takes Mark through a bumpy, understated series of domestic adventures that confirm his faith in the logical errors that keep his assumptions about property, love, and physical existence afloat. Whimsical, grave, and a lot more stylized in its plot and its cast of weirdos than Jones's equally charming first novel, Ordinary Money (1990). An elementary background in theoretical physics, while not required, would be helpful.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-42285-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993


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