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Coincidence Engine: A Novel
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Crown 2012
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"A tremendous novel--droll, savvy, original. An invigorating blast of fiction." --William Boyd, Author of Any Human Heart and Restless." A hurricane sweeps off the Gulf of Mexico and, in the back country of Alabama, assembles a passenger jet out of old bean cans and junkyard waste. This piques the interest of the enigmatic Directorate of the Extremely Improbable. Their fascination with this random event sets into motion a madcap caper that will bring together a hilarious cast of characters, including: an eccentric mathematician, last heard of investigating the physics of free will; a lovelorn Cambridge postgraduate who has set off to America with a ring in his pocket and hope in his heart; and a member of the Directorate with no capacity for imagination. What ensues is a chaotic chase across a fully realized, hyper-real America, haunted by madness, murder, mistaken identity, and conspiracy. The Coincidence Engine is a lively, boisterous debut that heralds the arrival of a major new talent.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
02/07/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307716446
ASIN:
B00540PAKG
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Sam Leith. (2012). Coincidence Engine: A Novel. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Sam Leith. 2012. Coincidence Engine: A Novel. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Sam Leith, Coincidence Engine: A Novel. Crown, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Sam Leith. Coincidence Engine: A Novel. Crown, 2012. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 16:51:37
Date Updated:
Dec 06, 2020 02:43:49
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Apr 18, 2021 07:54:10
Last Metadata Change:
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      • fileAs: Leith, Sam
      • bioText: Sam Leith is a freelance writer and critic. A former Literary Editor of the Daily Telegraph, he now writes regularly for the Evening Standard, Guardian, Spectator, Wall Street Journal Europe and Prospect. He lives near North London's picturesque Suicide Bridge with his fiancée Alice, daughter Marlene and son Max. His cat is called Henry.
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imprint
Crown
publishDate
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title
Coincidence Engine
fullDescription

"A tremendous novel--droll, savvy, original. An invigorating blast of fiction."
--William Boyd
, Author of Any Human Heart and Restless."

A hurricane sweeps off the Gulf of Mexico and, in the back country of Alabama, assembles a passenger jet out of old bean cans and junkyard waste. This piques the interest of the enigmatic Directorate of the Extremely Improbable. Their fascination with this random event sets into motion a madcap caper that will bring together a hilarious cast of characters, including: an eccentric mathematician, last heard of investigating the physics of free will; a lovelorn Cambridge postgraduate who has set off to America with a ring in his pocket and hope in his heart; and a member of the Directorate with no capacity for imagination. What ensues is a chaotic chase across a fully realized, hyper-real America, haunted by madness, murder, mistaken identity, and conspiracy. The Coincidence Engine is a lively, boisterous debut that heralds the arrival of a major new talent.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Sunday Times
      • content:

        "A comic caper. . . . Pitched somewhere between the heartbreaking pitfalls of Jonathan Coe and the paranoid zaniness of Thomas Pynchon, this is a clever debut, well worth checking out."

      • premium: False
      • source: The Mail on Sunday
      • content: "Witty and inventive, like something out of Hitchcock by way of Carl Hiassen, this tale of mayhem, murder and mistaken identity is a hugely entertaining, freewheeling riff on the paranoid, conspiracy driven American psyche."
      • premium: False
      • source: Financial Times
      • content: "Blending elements of a road novel, a spy thriller and a philosophical inquiry into the nature of chance, it is gripping, funny and unsettling."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Guardian
      • content: "The silliness multiplies across Sam Leith's pages like fractal rainbows. . . . Anarchic, psychedelic, with a serious delight in paradox. . . . For [Leith], silliness is not camouflage but its opposite: a tantalizing surface that attracts attention and draws it very much deeper."
      • premium: False
      • source: Independent
      • content: "A novel of ideas. . . . Sam Leith [writes] with admirable imaginative stamina, helped along by sharply observed and entertaining writing."
      • premium: False
      • source: Times Literary Supplement
      • content: "A comic thriller that, in its deliberate daftness, shows how disturbing daftness can be when taken to extremes."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        February 13, 2012
        Any book that opens with a hurricane miraculously assembling a working Boeing 737 from old cans and metal scraps in the backwoods of Alabama requires a suspension of belief. The joyfully crafted chaos of Leith's fiction debut (after You Talkin' to Me?) will appeal to adventurous readers. Leith's characters seem dubious as to their mission—secret agent "Bree thought: what a mess. None of this made any sense." However, Leith can—and should—be forgiven, for while the book's plot is driven by what some might consider metaphysical nonsense, his sharply drawn characters, well-written dialogue, and compelling philosophical ruminations are smart and funny. Rumor has it that a reclusive genius named Banacharski has invented something variously called a "coincidence engine," a "coincidence machine," and a "probability bomb," which has the potential to affect real-world probability. Understandably, a lot of interesting characters would like to get their hands on it. Bree and her "apsychotic" partner, Jones ("My doctor told me to explain it this way: I don't have an imagination.")—agents of the Directorate of the Extremely Improbable—,are on the case, as well as nefarious arms manufacturers. Both groups suspect British postgrad Alex Smart, who is en route to San Francisco to propose to his girlfriend, of possessing the machine, though Alex maintains his innocence. Leith's strange machine is sure to delight and confound.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 1, 2012
        When a British student comes to possess a physics-bending device, all hell breaks loose on his journey across America. Former Telegraph editor Leith (Sod's Law, 2009, etc.) spins a bewildering tale of cat-and-mouse, theoretical science and conspiracy theories in a novel that sometimes threatens to baffle its audience. A comic thriller whose characters are all deadly serious, the book shows much of the same imaginative verve as Steven Hall's mind-bender The Raw Shark Texts (2007). The pursuers in the book are all chasing Alex Smart, a Cambridge post-grad who has impulsively flown to America to propose to his girlfriend in San Francisco. But strange happenings are afoot around Alex. The young man has inadvertently acquired a device dubbed The Coincidence Engine, which affects the way probability works and grows more powerful each time it works. This explosive effect has attracted the attention of the Directorate of the Extremely Improbable, a collection of Men (and Women) in Black led by the ambitious Red Queen. "Our job is to assess threats to national security that we don't know exist, using methods that we don't know work," she says. "This produces results that we generally can't recognize as results, and when we can recognize them as results, we don't know how to interpret them." We also get a satisfying back story about the engine's mad creator, Nicolas Banacharski, who is loosely based on the reclusive mathematician Alexander Grothendieck. Trying to put things right, or at least turn them off, are Bree and Jones, a level-headed DEI agent and her psychotic partner. In Alex's path, a 737 materializes out of a hurricane, traditional machinery malfunctions and the inevitable frogs fall from the sky. It's a little Gravity's Rainbow with a pinch of airport thriller and a dash of The X-Files, and a dizzying stir. Leith's narrative runs mildly manic after a while, but the dichotomy between his unruffled prose and the mad events at hand ultimately foster a savvy comedic groove.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        February 15, 2012
        Free will and fate butt heads in Londoner Leith's (You Talkin' to Me?, 2011) hilarious, high-energy comic tale. When a hurricane ravages the American South, it somehow constructs a 737 airliner out of soup cans in rural Alabama, an event that attracts the Directorate of the Extremely Improbable (DEI). At the eye of the adventure is Alex, a 24-year-old en route from London to San Francisco to propose to his girlfriend. After getting stuck in Atlanta for reasons he's unsure of, Alex begins his westward trek, leaving a wake of flukes that lead Red Queen, an ambitious member of the DEI, to believe Alex unwittingly possesses a coincidence engine that might explain the physics of free will. An unlikely cross-country chase ensues, involving numerous plot points and quirky characters, including undercover agents, a pair of bumbling goons, and a mathematician whose comprehension of improbability nearly drives him insane. A fast-paced, freewheeling novel that will appeal to fans of imaginative social satire with science fiction and thriller elements, Leith's tale raises enormous, if not absurd, questions and responds with laughter.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

popularity
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shortDescription

"A tremendous novel--droll, savvy, original. An invigorating blast of fiction."
--William Boyd
, Author of Any Human Heart and Restless."

A hurricane sweeps off the Gulf of Mexico and, in the back country of Alabama, assembles a passenger jet out of old bean cans and junkyard waste. This piques the interest of the enigmatic Directorate of the Extremely Improbable. Their fascination with this random event sets into motion a madcap caper that will bring together a hilarious cast of characters, including: an eccentric mathematician, last heard of investigating the physics of free will; a lovelorn Cambridge postgraduate who has set off to America with a ring in his pocket and hope in his heart; and a member of the Directorate with no capacity for imagination. What ensues is a chaotic chase across a fully realized, hyper-real America, haunted by madness, murder, mistaken identity, and conspiracy. The Coincidence Engine is a...

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Crown