Unified Field Theory

Stories by Frank Soos

Reviews

“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.”
Boston Review

“Reading each of these gems is like focusing a microscope on aparticular attitude or manner of the human condition.”
Booklist


“Well-written and emotionally complex, these comically dark stories offer the reader a glimpse at an emerging talent.”
Charlotte Observer

“His is a dark, disturbing (but I mean that in a good way) study of two simple questions: Why and why me?”
Spokesman-Review

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Description
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.

Series/imprint:
Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Page count: 192 pp.
Trim size: 5.25 x 8

 



Paper
List price: $19.95
978-0-8203-3518-6
3/15/2010

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Frank Soos is a professor of English at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. He is the author of the essay collection Bamboo Fly Rod Suite, and the short-story collection Unified Field Theory (both Georgia).