Friday, June 29, 2012

Novel Publicity Present Speculation by Edmund Jorgensen Book Review

About the book:

Andrew Wrangles has a decision to make. His best friend Sothum, a philosophical and financial genius, has just died and left him a choice in his will: ten million dollars or a sealed envelope.
Andrew’s wife Cheryl doesn’t see this as much of a choice. She wants Andrew to take the money, and what little patience she has for his speculating about what could be worth more than ten million dollars is wearing thin very quickly.
But as Andrew digs deeper into the secret life that Sothum lived, he finds more questions than answers. Does the envelope contain the fate of a vanished mutual friend? The answer to a terrible cosmic riddle? The confession to a crime? Is Sothum just playing a final private joke? Or has Andrew become a pawn in a game–a game that Sothum died playing against a bigger opponent than Andrew can imagine?

About the Author:
Edmund Jorgensen was born in Chicago. He studied classical languages and has maintained a love for all things Greek and Roman. He fell in love with his wife in Mexico; they now reside, happily but considerably more chilly, in Watertown, Massachusetts. Edmund is currently hard at work on his second book, a set of interconnected short stories.
Connect with Edmund on his website,  Facebook, Twitter or GoodReads.
Read Chapter One
The Law Offices of X, Y, and Z
By the time Buddy Johnston vanished, his humiliation had become so abject, and so public, that I don’t suppose many people would have been shocked if he had washed up one morning on the banks of the East River with rocks in his pockets and stones in his shoes. But after more than ten years of acquaintance—or friendship, as he and I both charitably called it—I knew Buddy too well to imagine that he could have committed suicide without leaving a note. A note at the very least, and more likely a tract, a manifesto, a complaint in the classical sense and quite possibly in classical meter. He was just the sort of man who could have begun composing a suicide note and so lost himself in admiration of his own prose style and depth of feeling, become so overwhelmed by the pathos of his own situation, that he forgot entirely he had intended to do away with himself. Then he would have published the note in The New Yorker with an introductory remark explaining how writing had “literally saved my life.”
During most of those years of friendship I would have laughed at the suggestion that I would someday feel sorry for Buddy, not only because he had so much that anyone would have envied—the moneyed family, two bestsellers, those famous affairs—but more importantly because I knew deep down that he was a closer friend to Sothum than I was, and someone whom Sothum considered almost an intellectual equal. But Buddy believed that merely by virtue of his being Buddy Johnston he deserved everything he had and more, and the strength of this belief made him unusually vulnerable to the vicissitudes of real life. This belief was the keystone of his model for all order in the world, for justice and rationality, and when fortune gave that stone a few good raps—the mean-spirited coverage of his breakup with Alyssa, the terrible reviews of his second book, the mocking movie adaptation of his first—the structures of Buddy’s ego threatened to come tumbling after.
Although I might have disputed the justice of Buddy’s success, I had no immediate doubts that he would be restored to it quickly. I was sure that he had only gone to ground for a while to lick his wounds and repair the esteem in which he held himself. He lacked neither the funds to support himself meanwhile nor the network of fellow celebrities to shelter him. One of these days he would emerge from another writer’s cabin in the woods clutching a new manuscript; or from some Eastern monastery, decked out in novitiate’s robes and claiming to have seen right through the false fame and fortune to which he would so eagerly return. His big bald head would glare again in the flashbulbs, and his next book—no doubt inspired by his brief experience as a pariah—would be trumpeted as a return to form. He would resume his trips to Boston to visit Sothum one or two weekends each month, and the three of us would again have early Sunday dinners at Huanchen America’s on Beacon Street before Buddy caught the shuttle back to New York. In short, all would return to normal.
But as the months went by Buddy didn’t emerge from a cabin or return from any meditative sojourn. He didn’t wash up on the banks of the Hudson either, or the Charles, or the Ganges. He didn’t turn up anywhere, though eventually there were quite a few people looking for him. There were publishers looking to give him money and tax men looking to take it away. There were journalists looking to scoop his story and women looking to tell him off or to console him. After a while there were detectives hot for evidence of foul play. And eventually I joined the search party myself, hoping against hope to disprove my growing suspicion that Sothum had somehow been involved in Buddy’s disappearance.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I will admit that when I began reading this, I figured I would not like it.  It is not my typical genre, and I figured it would be rampant with sex scenes and profanity.  Was I ever wrong!

First of all, no sex scenes and limited profanity.  I was halfway through the book before profanity even reared its ugly head, and I could live with it.  It did not ruin the story for me.

The style and story of this book drew me in from the beginning.  I could not put it down.  Imagine being left a choice as part of a friend's will--the choice between a sure thing and a risky thing.  Andrew (the narrator and main character in the story) really finds himself in a quandary.  I won't tell you how it ends--no spoilers here.

The thing I appreciated the most in this book was the high level of writing.  It was very literary, and the author dealt with philosophical and mathematical concepts I could not even conceive.  It is not an easy read, but it is worthwhile and engrossing.  God even figures into the story--again, no spoilers!

I gave this book a five star rating because I honestly could not put it down.  I told my mom and my daughter (who is 9) about it, and both of them encouraged me to continue reading so they could know how it ends.  I was fascinated with the ending.  Just to warn you, there will be unanswered questions, but I feel the book ends the way it should.  If you are in the market for something a little bit different, and you enjoy mysteries, this is a book for you!

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

View all my reviews

As I have been reading some of the reviews of this book, I have noticed that sometimes people found this too philosophical or did not agree with the philosophy of the book.  Let me speak to that just because it raises some issues.

I was most intrigued on the debate concerning the existence of God.  I do not want to give anything away, but I did not agree with the ultimate conclusion of Sothum, Andrew's friend.  I was intrigued that the discussion centered around whether God could be proven philosophically.  Even though this book challenges the notion of God and I could have been highly offended, I was not.  I think it is good to read things that challenge my Christian beliefs.  And the entire debate and outcome thoroughly captured my interest.  And I enjoy it immensely when a secular book deals with the existence of God.  Atheism and agnosticism are so rampant today that this book was a refreshing read.

Want to win a copy of the book or an Amazon gift certificate?  Check out the soon-to-end giveaway!

Novel Publicity Blog Tour Notes:

Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of Speculation? Well, there are two ways to enter...

  1. Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official Speculation tour page.
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest! I've posted the contest form below, or you can enter on the tour page linked above.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Fantastic review, Ruth, and I'm so pleased that Speculation meant so much to you! I also enjoyed your discussion of the other reviews. Speculation seems like the kind of book you have to discuss with someone. Thank you for joining us on this tour, and please take a moment to cross-post your review to Amazon and GoodReads when you have the time <3


  2. Interesting review. I admit that I was a bit wary of the initial frame of the review. For example, I don't feel I'd write a book off because of sex scenes, as sex is a very natural and important part of lived experiences. I agree with you, though, that a book needs to appeal on multiple levels to have real value, beyond specific scenes to the ideas portrayed and discussed in it. I'm interested in reading this, in particular, to see if the math is correct or, as too many books of similar genres, made up math concepts. Sounds like it's full of ideas and topics to engage with. While it's not a genre I normally read, I may just have to check it out.

  3. Thanks for sharing your excellent review with us, Ruth. The reviews I've been reading are compelling. I've added Speculation to my "To-Read" pile.

  4. Ruth,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read Speculation, and for your fantastic review. I'm very glad you enjoyed the book, and especially the philosophical question at its center!




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