Unified Field Theory
Trim size: 5.250in x 8.000in
Pub Date: 03/15/2010
List Price: $19.95
Unified Field Theory
The short stories in Unified Field Theory capture characters in the middle of their lives as things fall apart. Jobs, marriages, and hopes disintegrate under people while they seek strategies and explanations. Some look for something larger than themselves, while others get in their cars and drive as if motion alone might offer a solution.
In "When the Hoot Owl Moves Its Nest," a surveyor blames the wreck of his marriage on his inability to interpret old-fashioned signs. In "If You Meet Buddha by the Road," a bicyclist seeks peace, and perhaps finds it, in Buddhism, while his ex-wife grieves for her lost youth. In the title story, a warehouseman seeks to overcome resignation through his misconception of particle physics: "We all hold that plane up there by an act of collective concentration. Each and every one of us looks into the sky as we drive along in our cars, go to the bank, mow the grass; and, with our looks, little by little, we help that airplane make its way."
Frank Soos's stories do not move toward epiphany. The men and women in Unified Field Theory have moments of emotional or intellectual recognition, but their lives are too complex for these moments to suggest long-term alterations. Plots double back on themselves, portraits are enriched through layers of detail, and readers achieve a growing understanding of each character's possibilities and limitations. The stories suggest a way of thoughtfully and emotionally participating in other people's worlds.
Quietly spectacular. . . . He's no minimalist-these stories are long and must be read slowly-but Soos's protagonists recall Raymond Carver's language-impeded cast.
Reading each of these gems is like focusing a micrscope on a particular attitude or manner of the human condition.
—Booklist (starred review)
Well-written and emotionally complex, these comically dark stories offer the reader a glimpse at an emerging talent.
His is a dark, disturbing (but I mean that in a good way) study of two simple questions: Why and why me?
PNBA Book Award, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association