STRANGE ATTRATORS by Rebecca Goldstein


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 The author of The Mind-Body Problem (1983) and The Dark Sister (1991) again probes the relationship between female intellect and emotion--this time in a sparkling, erudite collection in which brilliant women's minds dictate their romantic attachments while their gender continues to dictate their fate. She was mousy, short, unprepossessing, and even ugly, yet she had managed to write the ``first true masterpiece of Modernism'' and so deserved her acclaim--or so the title character of the first tale, ``The Editor's Story,'' sees E. A. Worthinghouse, author of Chimera and the most successful find of his long career. Dumpy Worthinghouse's social ineptness, disguising a fascinating, innovative mind, reappears in a variety of other incarnations throughout the collection, and the male editor's baffled reaction does as well--in ``The Geometry of Soap Bubbles and Impossible Love,'' in which the somber young daughter of a New York actress plays endlessly with dolls made from forks and spoons; in ``Rabbinical Eyes,'' in which a gifted young Jewish woman marries a Catholic man and must go without the comfort of family when her first child dies; and in ``Strange Attractors,'' in which a self- effacing female mathematician falls in love with a flamboyant, married, European genius. Other tales feature clever female beauties whose brains are as often undervalued--as in ``From Dreams of the Dangerous Duke,'' whose turn-of-the-century heroine dies of brain fever before her intellectual potential can be fully realized, and in ``The Predicate of Existence,'' in which a visiting philosopher overpowers a vain, disrespectful male opponent on the debating floor. Goldstein breaks no new ground in exploring again the paradoxes and implications of mind-body duality--but she develops her theme with such wit and imagination, in styles ranging from gothic to folkloric, that her readers will not mind going along for another ride.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-670-84640-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992


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