Stock Image

The Metaphysical Touch: A Novel

Brownrigg, Sylvia

ISBN 10: 0374199655 / ISBN 13: 9780374199654
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
From SYLVESTER & ORPHANOS (SAN MARCOS, CA, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since December 11, 1999

Quantity Available: 1

About this Item

0374199655 Dj blurbs by John Barth, Penelope Fitzgerald, etc. Bookseller Inventory # 004059

Ask Seller a Question

Bibliographic Details

Title: The Metaphysical Touch: A Novel

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

A moving and original love story about two lost people who find each other on the Internet.

In 1991 Emily Piper, a graduate student at Berkeley, has nearly finished her dissertation on metaphysics when her life is changed by the great Berkeley-Oakland fire that destroyed over 3,000 homes. Pi loses all of her belongings: her books and writings, all the things that reminded her of herself. Though others throw themselves into the task of rebuilding their lives, Pi can't. Instead, she escapes to the small coastal town of Mendocino.

On the other coast is J.D., a man with an ambition to go: permanently, absolutely. But before making his departure, J.D. decides to write a record of his jokes and neuroses; of his reflections on his wandering father, Joe; and of his urban, unemployed despair-and post it on the Internet.

When J.D. and Pi encounter each other's words on the Net, the sparks start to fly. Is J.D. who he says he is? Pi, as a recovering philosopher, ought to be able to tell reality from imagination, but finds herself in doubt. And though her correspondence with J.D. begins to heat up, she finds a sensual, more material temptation closer by, and her dilemma becomes a perilous instance of the "mind/body problem."

With The Metaphysical Touch, Sylvia Brownrigg has written a fabulously rich novel full of humor, tenderness, and truth.

Review:

As its title suggests, The Metaphysical Touch is a kind of disembodied romance, in which boy meets girl on an entirely abstract basis. Even a decade ago, Sylvia Brownrigg's debut might have taken the form of an epistolary novel. Nowadays, though, such virtual flirtations take place on the Internet, which is exactly where Brownrigg's lovers meet. One of them, Emily "Pi" Piper, is a philosophy grad student who loses everything--including, alas, her dissertation on Kant--to the great Oakland-Berkeley blaze of 1991. The other, a depressive Oblomovian type named JD, is busily uploading an extended suicide note, which even he recognizes as a melodramatic move: "I do know how self-indulgent this is, by the way. Writing and posting all this, treating the world on the Net like it's my therapist."

The very anonymity of online romance tends to bring out the saucier side of many correspondents (not to mention novelists.) But Brownrigg, a former philosophy student herself, is clearly interested in the epistemological kinks of the relationship. What can we know about another person? How cleanly can mind and body be divided? It's no accident that has Pi fastened onto idealism's heaviest hitter:

Pi's dissertation was to have been on Kant's metaphysics--on his stark, wisdom-starred vision of what was knowable in the world and what lay beyond the knowable. As a graduate student you had to read around, be ready to teach anything from the ethics of euthanasia to Pythagoras' transmigration of souls; but Pi's loyalty was to Kant. Her heart was floating out there with the German idealist, in the pure ether of thought, in the deep space of his noumenal realm.
JD is no professional Kantian, yet his solipsistic explorations surely qualify him as an enlightened amateur. The stage is set, then, for a long-distance love match. But despite Brownrigg's many gifts--including a fine eye for detail and an elegant, agile style--her narrative catches fire only intermittently. The main problem is that neither Pi nor JD ever quite makes it out of the noumenal realm. The lovers remain abstractions, without the sort of flesh-and-blood Dasein that would make us want to follow their adventures for almost 400 pages. There are, as always, the consolations of philosophy--but in this case, they're not quite consoling enough. --William Davies

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Store Description

We specialize in Modern First Editions, Plays, Books on the Theatre and Cinema, Ethinc American Literature and Social Studies, Gay & Lesbian Literature and Social Studies, etc. We also published Limited-Signed Books, printed by letterpress and bound by hand, of notable American & international authors that include Paul Bowles, John Cheever, Nadine Gordimer, Graham Greene, Christopher Isherwood, James Merrill, V.S. Naipaul, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth, William Styron, John Updike, Gore Vidal, and Tennessee Williams.

Visit Seller's Storefront

Terms of Sale:

ALL BOOKS ARE FIRST EDITIONS AND IN FINE CONDITION UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED. ALL DUST JACKETS, AND THEIR CONDITIONS, ARE INDICATED WHEN PRESENT. ANY BOOK RETURNED MUST BE WITHIN 10 DAYS OF RECEIPT. CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS WILL BE CHARGED APPLICABLE SALES TAX. DOMESTIC MEDIA MAIL POSTAGE & HANDLING FEES ARE AS FOLLOWS: $6 FOR THE FIRST BOOK ORDERED AND $2 FOR EACH ADDITIONAL BOOK. INSURANCE IS EXTRA. ORDERS SENT UNINSURED ARE SENT AT THE RECIPIENT'S RISK. ALL DOMESTIC SHIPPED BOOKS WILL BE SENT WI...

More Information
Shipping Terms:

Shipping costs are based on books weighing 2.2 LB, or 1 KG. If your book order is heavy or oversized, we may contact you to let you know extra shipping is required.

List this Seller's Books

Payment Methods
accepted by seller

Visa Mastercard American Express