The meticulousness of science and mathematics is applied to the mysteries of love in Iagnemma's debut collection, which features eight complex, multilayered stories in which protagonists try to balance the demands of the heart against their need for rational, orderly thinking. The title story introduces a young academic who tries to formulate a series of mathematical equations he can use to force his willful, libidinous girlfriend to make a commitment to him. Some of the stories are period pieces. In "The Phrenologist's Dream," a 19th-century phrenologist falls in love with a former female client who seduces him and then makes off with his valuable set of skulls. In "Zilkowski's Theorem," a pair of Boston mathematicians vie for the attention of the same woman, then end up betting their professional future on the outcome of a Red Sox game. An idealistic, creative young couple find their dreams humorously compromised in "The Confessional Approach," one of the few stories that abandons the science theme; impending poverty forces the couple to sell the woman's finely crafted wooden mannequins to the owner of a shooting range, where they become targets for gun hobbyists. Elegant, witty and concise, Iagnemma's stories precisely capture the hopelessly imprecise nature of love.
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*Starred Review* Iagnemma, a research scientist at MIT, is a rising star among short story writers, having won both a Pushcart Prize and a coveted spot in last year's Best American Short Stories [BKL S 15 02]. His debut collection explores the places where faith, love, and science all intersect. In "Zilkowski's Theorem," a mathematician deliberates revealing a secret that could boost his career at the expense of the reputation of the woman he loves. In "The Phrenologist"s Dream," set in the nineteenth century, a traveling phrenologist has his heart stolen (along with his collection of porcelain skulls) by a beautiful, hairless woman. In the moving story "The Ore Miner's Wife," a naive Christian bride, fearing a moral lapse on the part of her husband, destroys papers that contain his potentially important geometrical theories. And in "Kingdom, Order, Species," a female forester resorts to breaking and entering in order to meet the reclusive author of an introductory textbook on botany; she hopes the encounter may offer answers to why her love life and career never seem to blossom. These intelligent, quirky, and suspenseful stories offer proof of Iagnemma's stunning talent. James Klise
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A disappointing collection of paint-by-numbers short stories. The collection is about half contemporary academia grad-student romances and half odd-ball Victorian historical... Read morePublished on April 3 2004
Mr. Iagnemma's book is filled with a wit and intelligence unlike anything you will read again.
He has the market cornered on humorous stories about scientists' love foibles. Read more
Karl Iagnemma is an amazing writer as this debut book reflects. His natural talent and ability to create characters that appear to be so real allow the reader to connect with each... Read morePublished on June 1 2003 by "suzmarkey"
These stories are extended meditations with no shortage of action. The language, the geography, the history - all of it's filtered beautiful through Karl's sharp lense. Read morePublished on May 14 2003 by Bryan Farrow
The best collection released this year, by a longshot. The stories are beautifully written, funny, and wrenching. And every single piece kicks ... Read morePublished on May 9 2003 by Steven B. Almond
Karl Iagnemma is a research scientist in the mechanical engineering department at MIT, but in his spare time he writes incredibly enjoyable stories about Ph.D. Read morePublished on May 5 2003 by Kenneth Goldstein