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Schrodinger's Ball by Adam Felber
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Schrodinger's Ball (2006)

by Adam Felber

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1188102,161 (3.26)10
  1. 00
    Going Bovine by Libba Bray (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: Both are hilarious books filled with wacky, nerdy randomness, both involve (at least in part) quantum physics, and both have a surprisingly sweet and touching emotional core hidden under the zaniness.
  2. 00
    Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore (fyrefly98)
  3. 00
    The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (fyrefly98)
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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
One review blurb said that this book "made quantum physics funny and Cambridge, Massachusetts a place of strange magic." Well, I knew that both of these are quite likely true, but the book is also good, and hilarious. Features a bunch of twenty-somethings on a ordinary weekend, except that one of them might be dead (no-one has observed the body yet, so who knows?), The separatist President of Montana, a few wonderfully written Central Square homeless people, and Dr. Schroedinger himself, who keeps trying to explain physics to the narrator, and wishes that he'd never thought up the whole "cat" thing.
  louistb | Jun 24, 2013 |
One of our favorite weekend events is tuning into NPR's weekly news quiz show, "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" The wit and repartee of the rotating panel, host Peter Sagal and the ever amazing Carl Kasel (official scorekeeper, judge and announcer) is really good listening fun. Adam Felber is a frequent panelist, and so when I found this book, I was eager to read it, as he is very entertaining on the show.

The book was not at all what I expected. Quirky, witty, very funny in places, and extremely quirky, but it took me a while to grab hold of the different story arcs that twist and wind through this one. Still, in the end, I really did enjoy it. Can't exactly define what I expected it to be, at this point, but the fact the it was something totally different is not a bad thing, just a different thing. It's got (as one reviewer,
Harold Francis Jenkins Jr, over at Amazon, puts it) "absurdist humor, charming and delightful characters (at least one of whom spends most of the story being at once dead and not-dead), a healthy dose of quantum physics, a happy mix of first-, second-, and third-person narratives, and a writing style that easily slips into pseudo-Biblical and faux-Shakespearean and, at least once, breaks down completely."

All of which I concur, but I want to know what happened to the cat. ( )
  bookczuk | Jul 23, 2011 |
Reminded me a bit of Kurt Vonnegut's writing in that you laughed while reading it but couldn't remember anything after you finished the book because there was no plot to hang any details on. Could have been titled, 'a heartbreaking work of staggering goofiness.' Kinda lost steam at the end. I got tired of the bag lady's perspective and the street guy's 'biblical' style musings. The writer is an improv comedian and it shows. Sometimes it was so funny you'd pee your pants and other time it's just elicited a giant 'duh.'

Arlene mused, alcohol will help us create a consensual reality in which all of us here believe we're entertaining, intelligent people who really like each other.

But now she thinks that she's been writing to prepare herself and protect herself, that deep inside her she is, was, and always will be a creature that wants to hold things together, to prevent change, especially when things are good.

The following was a very funny thing to read after 5 years of skiing lessons and while on a skiing holiday;

"To survive, the human brain is programmed to see clear, smooth causes and effects. How else could we survive? We need to see the patterns, learn to identify the footprints of predator and prey, see where they lead, and react accordingly. We need to predict the predictable so that we can handle the unpredictable."

Yup.

And on the interconnectedness of all things;

Now we were watching helplessly as his fork casually roamed the table, dipping into our plates, casually snagging bits of salad and pasta primavera without asking our permission. Apparently, the doctor's new thoughts about the fundamental interconnectedness of all things had erased his ability to differentiate between "his" and what was "not his." If he'd ever had that ability.

"God died a cartoon death, you know."

"Look, God cheerfully led us to science, right past the cliff's edge of his own plausibility. Then, sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century, he looked down, saw he was standing on empty air, did one last double take to the camera, and plummeted to his death. If there ever was a
deus ex machina, the machina was built by the ACME Corporation." ( )
  Clueless | Mar 8, 2008 |
Summary: This story centers around four friends: Arlene, who's depressed over the recent death of her cat; Deb, who is chronically undepressed and is capable of hour-long orgasms; Grant, a geek who's desperately and hopeless in love with Deb; and Johnny, who accidentally shot himself in the head but may or may not be dead. Also improbably involved are the President of Montana, Bernie the schizophrenic prophet of the Lord and Brenda the homeless counter-historian, the world's largest molecule (available in keychain- and belt-buckle-form), Dr. Schrödinger himself (who keeps rambling on about the universe, inviting himself over, and stealing garlic bread), and a strange meowing coming from an unlocateable source.

Review: I really enjoyed this book on a number of levels. It's incredibly funny - to the right reader (I was laughing out loud within the first four pages). You don't need to be an expert on physics or even on science to enjoy this book, although I suspect it's similar to Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next novels - the more you know about the subject matter (in that case, British literature; in this case, quantum physics and other science), the more of the inside jokes you will be able to appreciate.

This book is structured a little chaotically - initially, you just have to give in and let the story's logic (or lack thereof) take you and carry you along until you start to get the feel of the flow of the book. Not all of the elements tie perfectly into the ending, but enough do so that it's satisfying, and the extraneous elements are funny enough that it didn't feel like they were wasting time by being there. I went in expecting zany, nerdy humor, and I certainly got that. However, on a deeper level, this book's also about how our perception of things shapes reality, and how everything is interconnected. There were also some genuinely sweet and perceptive moments of love and friendship tucked in there, amidst the physics lessons and generally craziness. A very fun read. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Fans of Christopher Moore or Jasper Fforde who also have an appreciation for all things good and geeky will probably like this one as well. ( )
5 vote fyrefly98 | Jan 17, 2008 |
I loved this. Where else can you get iambic pentameter in a modern novel? Well written. Funny. Reminiscent of my younger days, reminded me of things I had not thought of. Kind of a mix between Barthe and Vonnegut? Not sure. But it was just plain good. ( )
  shawnd | Nov 7, 2007 |
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There's A CAT IN A BOX in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812974425, Paperback)

“Tender, hilarious, and packed with delightful surprises . . . If Einstein and John Cleese had written a novel together, this would be it.”
–Joseph Weisberg, author of 10th Grade

Four friends set out into the night in Cambridge, Massachusetts, undeterred by the fact that one of them might actually be dead. Deb has perfected the half-hour orgasm. Grant, a geek, desperately desires Deb. Depressed Arlene has just improbably slept with Johnny, their leader, who recently and accidentally shot himself to death.

But is he (or anyone) alive or dead until he’s observed to be by someone else? Maybe not, according to Dr. Erwin Schrödinger, the renowned physicist (1887—1961) who is, strangely, still ambling through the Ivy League town, offering opinions and proofs about how our perceptions can bring to life–and, in turn, reduce and destroy–other people and ourselves. And what does Schrödinger have to do with the President of Montana, who just declared war on the rest of the country, or the Harvard Square bag lady who is rewriting the history of the world? What’s the significance of the cat in the box, the “miracle molecule,” or the discarded piece of luncheon meat?

Answer: All will collide by the end of this hypersmart, supersexy, madly moving novel that crosses structural inventiveness with easygoing accessibility, the United States with our internal states of being, philosophy with fiction. In Adam Felber’s dazzling debut, science and humanity collide in a kaleidoscopic story that is as hilarious as death and as heartbreaking as love.

Praise:
“A jangle of provocative absurdities playing off a pair of lovers so winning that readers, like the audiences at the old Hollywood romantic comedies, will all but rent ladders to uncross the stars that guide and misguide their efforts…. [Schrodinger’s Ball is] a romantic fantasy in three-quarter time, as brainy as it is airy, and unhinged either way.”–The New York Times

“Felber has done the impossible: he’s made quantum theory seem hysterically funny and Cambridge, Massachusetts seem like a place of strange magic. Schrödinger’s Ball is a great read that will blind you with science and laughter.”–Chris Regan, writer for The Daily Show and co-author of America (The Book)

“[A] crackling comic novel…[Felber] frolics in the fields of science....His wit and linguistic acrobatics make this clever mind-bender worth the ride.–Booklist
 
“It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s got heart. All this and an umlaut too! Schrödinger’s Ball is thoroughly lively.”–Roy Blount Jr., author of Roy Blount’s Book of Southern Humor

“If Einstein and John Cleese had written a novel together, this would be it. Felber creates a world that is both completely real and totally enchanted. Tender, hilarious, and packed with delightful surprises, Schrödinger’s Ball is even more original than other really original books.”–Joseph Weisberg, author of Tenth Grade

“There’s no uncertainty about it. Schrödinger’s Ball once and for all proves the Adam Felber theory of comic novel writing: a book can be rollickingly funny, sharply satirical, romantic, and endearing–and involve quantum physics.”–Mo Rocca, author of All the Presidents’ Pets: The Story of One Reporter Who Refused to Roll Over
 
 ”Schrödinger’s Ball is as funny as hell, charming and kind, and perceptive and moving. Adam Felber has an amazing feel for the interior lives of his characters, even while using the shifting points-of-view of a David Foster Wallace.”–Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

“[A] raucous, willfully absurd debut…designed to expose the beautiful randomness of existence….Felber has embraced postmodern fiction's favorite themes…and turned it into a work of broad comedy instead of a fit of fatalistic handwringing.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Few novels attempting a deliberately bad explanation of the uncertainty principle could surpass this inspired romp….Felber's debut is illogically, warmly entertaining.”–Publishers Weekly

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:43 -0400)

"Four friends set out into the night in Cambridge, Massachusetts, undeterred by the fact that one of them might actually be dead. Deb has perfected the half-hour orgasm. Grant, a geek, desperately desires Deb. Depressed Arlene has just improbably slept with charismatic Johnny, who recently and accidentally killed himself." "But is Johnny (or anyone) alive or dead until he's observed to be by someone else? Maybe not, according to Dr. Erwin Schrodinger, the renowned physicist (1887-1961), who is, strangely, still ambling through the Ivy League town, offering opinions and proofs about how our perceptions can bring to life - and, in turn, reduce and destroy - other people and ourselves. And what does Schrodinger have to do with the President of Montana, who has just declared war on the rest of the country, or the Harvard Square bag lady who is rewriting the history of the world? What's the significance of the cat in the box, the "miracle molecule," or the discarded piece of luncheon meat? Answer: All will collide by the end of this novel."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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