978-0-312-24545-0 / 9780312245450

Habitus: A Novel


Publisher:St Martins Pr



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About the book:

In 1973, affection-starved Jennifer Several takes two lovers: Judd Axelrod, shy prepubescent son of a Hollywood starlet, and Joel Kluge, an ex-Hasidic math genius. As Judd becomes a supernaturally gifted gambler, escaping the bungling of his psychoanalyst, Joel's search for meaning leads him to create a computerized golem, to repair the world of evil. Meanwhile, in Jennifer's womb a genetic anomaly takes root--a child bearing the DNA of its two fathers. Above them all circles the serenely conscious figure of Laika, first dog in space, feeding on the outpourings of the digital age.

Habitus teems with ideas. As if in mimicry of the global village, we spark from one location to another, as the author boldly captures their essence: L.A., Cambridge, Stratford-upon-Avon, even Dachau and Sobibor. The prose leads stimulating forays into a wealth of disparate subjects, deftly illuminating their connections. There's a smattering of kabbalah, some advanced mathematics, even a tract on gambling. Unfortunately, this often occurs at the expense of story. Complex scientific segues frequently force us to disengage and switch drives from "audience" to "student," just as we begin to care about Flint's characters. A book with humor and heart, certainly, but one slightly too concerned about proving its cleverness. --Matthew Baylis,

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