Memoirist Peter finally completes a junior-high-school science assignment, thirty years late, exploring quantum physics, entropy, epistemology, principles of uncertainty and discontinuity, a range of life’s Big Questions, and his memories of his intoxicating science teacher, Miss Rheingold.
“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. . . .
“Literary echoes reverberate down the corridors of ‘The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy’—Sterne, Melville, Mark Twain, Proust, Borges, Nabokov, Gabriel Garcia Marquez—but they reverberate lightly, whimsically. Mr. Kraft is his own man, with his own somewhat loopy agenda. He writes an elegant, supple, uncommonly precise prose that glides, silk-smooth, from pathos to parody, from slapstick to sentiment, from the mysteries of moonlight on Bolotomy Bay to the mysteries of particle physics. Toward the end of [this] book, he creates several scenes involving Peter and Ariane, the sultry older sister of Peter’s best friend, Raskol. Each vignette is a perfectly balanced blend of slightly edgy comedy and shrewd observation; and each is also extraordinarily sexy. The unattainable Ariane is breathtakingly desirable, and Peter’s desire — the awful, ecstatic ache of preadolescence — is rendered so artfully that it becomes almost palpable.
“In what other novel . . . 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?
“Like childhood itself, Where Do You Stop? is filled with wonders. It is a book designed to leave its readers — and it deserves many of them — as happy as clams.”
The New York Times Book Review
“The enigmatic title of this amusing, yet thought-provoking, novel can be interpreted in many ways, including, ‘Where do you stop once you start to identify themes in this book?’ Yet all those themes are beautifully linked via Kraft’s clever, sometimes hilarious, prose, demonstrating his narrator’s realization (at the age of 10) that all knowledge, sacred and profane, macro and micro, is interrelated. Our genial adult host, Peter Leroy, in recalling his experiences as a seventh-grader discovering quantum physics and sex (and their nexus points), gently guides us from the universal to the subparticular and back again, while simultaneously charting his younger self’s almost imperceptible transition from childhood to adolescence (and from one end of the couch to the other). In Where Do You Stop? Kraft shines his light on this world, revealing (as he does in all his books) that life is in the details. Even if those details are hard to pin down (as Heisenberg proved). To cap it off, Kraft skillfully shapes the narrative so that it comes full circle in the final pages, completing the circuit, turning on a light that will shine forever (‘or as close to forever as the universe will ever come’). A book to treasure.”
“A magical, funny, healing journey.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Warm . . . thought-provoking . . . charming . . . delightful.”
Library Journal (starred review)
“Mr. Kraft is a splendid, smart, funny, slyly sexy, and insightful writer.”
Michael Z. Jody, The East Hampton Star
“Luminously intelligent fun.”
“Goofy and thoroughly enjoyable.”
Timothy Hunter, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Nothing less than an attempt to comprehend the nature of the universe itself.”
Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times & Post-Intelligencer
Bruce Allen, USA TODAY
“Kraft gets better all the time.”
Alicia Miller, Chagrin Falls Currents
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
RECOMMENDED BY THE READER’S CATALOGUE