Thursday, December 08, 2005

50 Book Challenge #68: As She Climbed Across The Table

This book reminded me a bit of some other books from this year. It has the same decidedly modern sensibility as the Jeanette Winterson books I've read, but is far more structured. Where Winterson is impressionistic, Lethem is neat and linear. It also put me in mind of On Love, since Lethem spends a fair amount of time documenting the precise sensations generated by the desertion of a loved one. As She Climbed Across The Table is more than just a love story, although one lies at its core.

The stable romance between Philip, an interdisciplinary studies guru, and Alice, a physicist, derails after an experiment in creating new universes goes awry and produces the entity the faculty dubs "Lack." Lack, an invisible void hovering above a table in the physics department, accepts offerings of certain objects but not others. His inscrutable preferences intrigue Alice, and she is drawn into an obsession. Will Philip coax Alice into rejoining the world or will Lack suck Alice into a mysterious new plane, leaving Philip alone?

This book is very cleverly written, and Philip, while a caricature of an academic, is sincere and believable as a man bereft. Recommended.
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