A Working Theory of Love

A Working Theory of Love

A Novel

Format
Ebook
Price
$12.99
 
Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101596005
  • 336 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult

Overview

Settled back into the San Francisco singles scene following the implosion of his young marriage just months after the honeymoon, Neill Bassett is going
through the motions. His carefully modulated routine, however, is soon disrupted in ways he can’t dismiss with his usual nonchalance.

When Neill’s father committed suicide ten years ago, he left behind thousands of pages of secret journals, journals that are stunning in their detail, and, it must be said, their complete banality. But their spectacularly quotidian details, were exactly what artificial intelligence company Amiante Systems was looking for, and Neill was able to parlay them into a job, despite a useless degree in business marketing and absolutely no experience in computer science. He has spent
the last two years inputting the diaries into what everyone hopes will become the world’s first sentient computer. Essentially, he has been giving it language—using his father’s words. Alarming to Neill—if not to the other employees of Amiante—the experiment seems to be working. The computer actually appears to be gaining awareness and, most disconcerting of all, has started asking questions about Neill’s childhood.

Amid this psychological turmoil, Neill meets Rachel. She was meant to be a one-night stand, but Neill is unexpectedly taken with her and
the possibilities she holds. At the same time, he remains preoccupied by unresolved feelings for his ex-wife, who has a talent for appearing at the most unlikely and unfortunate times. When Neill discovers a missing year in the diaries—a year that must hold some secret to his parents’ marriage and perhaps even his father’s suicide—everything Neill thought he knew about his past comes into question, and every move forward feels impossible to make.

With a lightness of touch that belies pitch-perfect emotional control, Scott Hutchins takes us on an odyssey of love, grief, and reconciliation that shows us how, once we let go of the idea that we’re trapped by our own sad histories—our childhoods, our bad decisions, our miscommunications with those we love—we have the chance to truly be free. A Working Theory of Love marks the electrifying debut of a prodigious new talent.

Praise

“Clever, funny, and very entertaining… Hutchins is an unsentimental and compassionate creator of vivid characters… [a] charming, warmhearted, and thought-provoking novel.”
New York Times Book Review
 

“The field of artificial intelligence, or computer robotics, may not sound like a poignant story line for a novel, particularly one that bends thematically toward the beatings of the heart. But Scott Hutchins, in A Working Theory of Love turns this potentially sterile technological world into an emotionally moving force that helps propel the narrative as it grapples with the stuff of real life… In quick, artful strokes, the various characters in a wide cast are memorably drawn and entwined in Neill’s personal saga. Even the would-be intelligent machine, “Dr. Bassett,” becomes such a vivid character that questions of its mortality, not just its human dimensions, are raised… A terrific debut, an intriguing, original take on family and friendship, lust and longing, grief and forgiveness.
—The Associated Press
 

 “A wistful, funny debut”
—People
 

“What makes a man? In this terrific debut novel, A Working Theory of Love, emotionally adrift divorcé Neill Bassett Jr. is trying to build the world’s first sentient computer program. After inputting 20 years of his late father’s diaries, he holds conversations with a pixelated personality that seems just like his dad—discussing his life, his childhood, and his current romantic woes. Throughout, Hutchins hits that sweet spot where humor and melancholy comfortably coexist.”
Entertainment Weekly
 

[A] must-read debut novel. [A Working Theory of Love] is in some ways is a kind of Nick Hornby-ish take on Richard Powers’ computer classic, Galatea 2.2this novel thwarts the reader’s expectations at every turn, blurring the line between man, memory, and machine.”
Details

 

 “It takes a genius, a supercomputer, a disembodied voice and a man who’s stopped believing to create A Working Theory of Love. Original, wise, full of serious thinking, serious fun, and the shock of the new, this book is astonishing.”
—Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master’s Son

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