Adwoa's Reviews > Mr g: A Novel About The Creation

Mr g by Alan Lightman
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's review
Jun 21, 2012

it was amazing
Read in June, 2012

In Alan Lightman's latest novel, the reader is once again played for a sucker. A turn of phrase I use completely without rancor - I wouldn't have it any other way.

Einstein's Dreams introduced a voracious scientific mind whose gentle observations on the possibilities of the world are set forth with a disingenuous so delicate that it almost hurts. The narrator of Mr. G, an unnamed tinkering creator who lives in a void with his aunt and uncle, follows in a similarly rich and satisfying vein. There's a sweet spot at the intersection of inexact art and cold hard science that represents an almost limitless wonder - and everything Lightman writes seems to nestle into that space, silent and unflashy, waiting to be found.

At a time when one seemingly has to be ironic to matter, Lightman's main characters are all as dreamily wise as Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth and as earnest as saint-Exupery's The Little Prince. When books can touch you in this way, there's a sense that you've tapped into something vast and elemental and true, just for a moment. He sums the sensation up with enigmatic beauty (of course) in this passage, about two strangers exchanging a greeting on a busy city street on an unremarkable galaxy's smallest, quietest world:

[A]s these two strangers moved past, they greeted each other, just a simple greeting. A remark about the sun in the sky. One of them said something else to the other, they exchanged smiles, and then the moment was gone. What an extraordinary event! No one noticed but me. What an extraordinary event! Two men who had never seen each other before and would not likely see each other again. But their sincerity and sweetness, their sharing an instant in a fleeting life. It was almost as if a secret had passed between them. Was this some kind of love? I wanted to follow them, to touch them, to tell them of my happiness. I wanted to whisper to them: "This is it, this is it."
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