|Where Do You Stop?
YOU CAN READ THE FIRST
Here am I, lying under a hayrick. The tiny narrow spot I’m taking up
is so infinitesimally small by comparison with the rest of space, where
I am not and which has nothing to do with me, and the portion of time which
I may succeed in living through is so insignificant when confronted with
eternity, wherein I was not and shall not be. Yet within this atom, this
mathematical point, the blood is circulating, the brain is working, something
or other yearns. . . .
The interaction between thought and
language always fascinated Bohr. He often spoke of the fact that any attempt
to express a thought involves some change, some irrevocable interference
with the essential idea, and this interference becomes all the stronger
as one tries to express oneself more clearly. Here again there is a complementarity,
as he frequently pointed out, between clarity and truth—between Klarheit
und Wahrheit, as he liked to say. This is why Bohr was not a very clear
lecturer. He was intensely interested in what he had to say, but he was
too much aware of the intricate web of ideas, of all possible cross-connections;
this awareness made his talks fascinating but hard to follow.
Electrons exist both on their own, as free particles, and as constituents
of atoms, and they can change from one role to the other and back. An electron
forming part of a carbon atom in the skin of your wrist could be knocked
out of position by a passing cosmic ray and become part of the tiny electric
current in your digital wristwatch, and then in turn become part of an
oxygen atom in the air you breathe as you raise your arm to look at the
In the [scanning
tunneling microscope] the “aperture” is a tiny tungsten probe, its
tip ground so fine that it may consist of only a single atom. . . . Piezoelectric
controls maneuver the tip to within a nanometer or two of the surface of
a conducting specimen—so close that the electron clouds of the atom at
the probe tip and of the nearest atom of the specimen overlap.
Simmel, on the basis of a partial reading of Nietzsche, recognizes this
in his Metaphysics of Death: “The secret of form lies in the fact
that it is a boundary; it is the thing itself and at the same time the
cessation of the thing, the circumscribed territory in which the Being
and the No-longer-being of the thing are one and the same.” If form is
a boundary, there then arises the problem of the plurality of boundaries—and
the calling them into question.
The right thing and the time it takes are connected by a mysterious
force, just like a piece of sculpture and the space it fills.
|Not-So-Brief Excerpts from the Reviews
Fans of Eric Kraft's Peter Leroy series will unequivocally
delight in this latest installment of Peter’s adventures growing up in
post-WWII Babbington, the “clam capital of America.” Readers unfamiliar
with this masterful storyteller’s pellucid prose will equally enjoy his
account of Peter’s momentous and treacherous initiation into junior high
school . . . a magical, funny, healing journey that features
familiar and unusual memories . . . without lapsing into mere nostalgia.
Kraft’s humor is always warm
and sometimes laugh-aloud, his characters are wonderfully sketched, and
his themes are as thought-provoking as his efforts are
From the in-depth examination of the Heisenberg
Uncertainty Principle, to the inner workings of the drive mechanism of
a windup record player, or the perfect proportions for a beer and lemonade
shandy, the young Peter leads us on a merry investigation and exploration
of his (and our) world, and, in the process, invests it with a great deal
of warmth and humor and charm. . . . Mr. Kraft is a splendid,
smart, funny, slyly sexy, and insightful writer . . . and Mr. Kraft
continues to be a pleasure to read.
The title of this sly and extremely
funny book is also the title of a paper that Peter is assigned by his science
teacher, the luscious, leggy Miss Rheingold. We—and Peter—learn quite a
bit about Miss Rheingold, although nowhere near as much as Peter would
like. We also learn about epistemology; the boundaries of the self; the
building of backyard lighthouses; terrazzo floors; Chinese checkers; American
education; the restricted vision of children (and their parents); and the
design of such exquisitely intricate gadgets as the phonograph, the scanning
tunneling microscope, the universe, and the novel. . . . In what other
novel this year will you find the instructions, complete with diagram,
for constructing a flour bomb? Or a discussion, by a gum-chewing seventh-grade
girl, of Zwischenraum, the empty space between the components of
an atom? Or a canny analysis of racial prejudice proffered by Porky White,
the entrepreneur behind the phenomenally successful Kap’n Klam Family Restaurants?
While most readers have been looking the other
way, writer Eric Kraft has turned out a series of whiz-bang novellas about
a kid named Peter Leroy who does a lot of neat stuff, like thinking, squidging
for clams with his toes, and noticing the fantastic legs of his new science
teacher, Miss Rheingold. . . . His books are good, luminously
The giddy excitement of expanding scientific
consciousness is coupled with the awakening of sexual desires in this goofy
and thoroughly enjoyable novel . . . . You won’t want this charming
little exercise in learned whimsy to end.
Working on a vast scale but serving up the
components of his ongoing saga in tasty morsels, Kraft has managed to create
a 1950s world that is both wildly eccentric and universal in its appeal.
His young protagonist, earnest screwball Peter Leroy, is the narrator of
these “adventures, experiences and observations” . . . and he’s as winning
a character as any to have appeared recently on the American literary scene.
Do You Stop? is the latest installment, and it’s a treat. . . . It’s
an enchanting comic meditation on the quirkiness of memory and the joys
of daydreaming. At its most ambitious moments, it’s nothing
less than an attempt to comprehend the nature of the universe itself.
. . . Droll, provocative, and filled with memorable characters, Where Do
You Stop? confirms Kraft as a writer who is every bit as inventive as he
A hilarious reminiscence
of Peter’s pre-adolescent years, his awakening to sexual feelings, and
other inchoate confusions . . . .
Kraft gets better all the
time, and Peter Leroy’s fondly remembered world grows richer and funnier—more
provocative, too—with each new episode. Stay tuned.”
WHERE TO FIND IT
Copyright © 1992 by Eric Kraft
Where Do You Stop? is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
First published by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.
Now available in paperback from Picador USA, a division of St. Martin's Press.
For information about publication rights outside the U. S. A., audio rights, serial rights, screen rights, and so on, e-mail Alec “Nick” Rafter, the author’s earnest agent.
The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.