The Two-Body Problem [Revised]

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9780982012529: The Two-Body Problem [Revised]

In mathematics, a two-body problem is about the trajectories of two objects interacting only with each other (a star and a planet, for example). This kind of problem has a simple mathematical solution. Not so for two human bodies, however (two lovers, or two friends) as we learn from this story about the limits of art or math, those realms of perfection.

In a beach town in the South of France, a writer and a mathematician happen to meet, start trading stories about bachelor life, relationships, loves lost. Encountering several young women as the day passes, they banter with them about art and mathematics, playfully, passionately, seductively. The two men also begin to see both what bonds them and the ways in which they may greatly differ. That evening, the two men and the women met earlier are partying when a surprising guest shows up, and tensions apparent earlier reach an unexpected conclusion.

The Two-Body Problem evokes the male adventurers of Sideways and Swingers; the mathematical allegories of Good Will Hunting, A Beautiful Mind, and the TV show Numb3rs; and the intricate plotting of Swimming Pool.

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About the Author:

Awarded Guggenheim and, three times, National Endowment fellowships for fiction and creative nonfiction, Thomas Farber has been a Fulbright Scholar, recipient of the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize, and Rockefeller Foundation scholar at Bellagio. His recent books include Brief Nudity, The Beholder, and Hesitation Marks. Former Visiting Distinguished Writer at the University of Hawai'i, he teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and is Publisher/Editor in Chief of El Leon Literary Arts. Professor of Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. Edward Frenkel is the author of two books, including Langlands Correspondence for Loop Groups, and numerous research articles in mathematical journals. Recipient of the Hermann Weyl Prize, the Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, and Chaire d Excellence from Fondation Sciences Mathematiques de Paris, he also co-produced, co-directed, and played the lead in the film Rites of Love and Math.

Review:

I kept turning the pages, savoring the dialogue and the story and the sunny south of France. It s something irresistible, as hot as it is smart, a trip to a place where art and math meet dreams and desire. Though comparing it to anything else seems almost ludicrous, consider My Dinner with Andre, but with sex, jokes, hot women, and math. Or Swingers with triple the IQ. --Steven Strogatz, Professor of Applied Mathematics, Cornell University, author of The Calculus of Friendship, contributor to the Opinionator Blog of The New York Times.

It's fun to pick up a book so full of such simple and complex pleasures: beautiful, young, friendly women and sunny, sandy, French beach life; mathematics made easy with enjoyable elucidation, yet our Puritanical demons can happily exult in the final, agonizing pain of the just deserts served at the unsettling conclusion of this brilliant little masterpiece. --Les Blank, Director, Burden of Dreams, Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe.

In The Two-Body Problem Thomas Farber and Edward Frenkel have created a mesmerizing story about a writer and a mathematician as they examine their lives, their passionate dedication to their respective careers, and their equally passionate desire to find a woman (women?) who can fulfill that other non-professional need. This is certainly worth reading -- and seeing! --Barbara Oliver, Director/Actor, Founding Artistic Director, Aurora Theatre Company.

The Two-Body Problem is a delicious mix of sensuality, farce and metaphysical mathematics. And yes, that's as rare as it sounds. Humanizing math may be the job of teachers, but making it seductive is the province of artists. --Ira Hauptman Professor, Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance, Queens College, and playwright Partition and Starry Messenger.

The Two-Body Problem is an adventurous movie romp set on the beaches of the South of France. Sexuality, the craft of Writing, and the mysteries of Mathematics all strangely converge to make a smart and sexy movie, with unpredictable characters that you ve never ever seen before in any film. --Robert Zagone Director, Read you Like a Book.

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Thomas Farber; Edward Frenkel
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