Set in Marin County, Innocence is a philosophical novel that follows John Gegenuber, a former Episcopal priest who has given up his parish and vocation to become a real estate agent. After having corrective surgery for a cleft palate, John has been invited to go on a romantic weekend trip to a secluded country estate with Thalia, a young woman who has undergone the same cosmetic surgery.
Their transformational weekend together is tested in the sudden and premature labor of a young pregnant woman who lives at the estate. Stranded with only common sense to guide them, faith and instinct become paramount for the mother and her newborn.
“Confronting issues of identity, compassion, desire, and redemption, Jones’ sublimely contemplative novel vibrates with a subtle current of menace and foreboding.”
–Carol Haggas, Booklist
Mark Perdue has so many problems that when he starts feeling chest pains on the tarmac at LAX, it dawns on him that a heart attack might be an efficient way out. Once an eminent physicist, he hasn’t published or had a new idea in a decade. The younger professors at UC Berkeley pity him, and he’s taken to using the back staircases to avoid their looks, which all seem to be labeling him dead weight. At home, his wife has been inconsolable since the recent late-term abortion of their afflicted fetus. And he can’t deny it any longer—he is decidedly losing his mental faculties to chronic Lyme disease.
Now Mark is visiting Los Angeles with his ambitious daughter, Carlotta, so she can attend a “Celebrity Fantasy Vacation,” in which she is promised three days and two nights of the rock star lifestyle (musical talent not required, promises the brochure). On stage, Carlotta sings her way to a new self-confidence, giving Mark a glimmer of joy in her sense of victory. But then she disappears with her newly acquired paraplegic boyfriend to take an excursion to the Hollywood sign and gets them all arrested, Mark included. Mark now faces a night in jail—and maybe a hint of what he really needs to be happy.
"Every word of this short novel is relevant. Brilliant, actually."
"This is Jones’s fourth novel (his prior three novels were all New York Times Notable Books), and his sentences and language shine. Radiance is entertaining, profoundly meditative, and quietly moving. Jones is an astute chronicler of the intimate and the interior, keenly recording delicate shifts in feeling and tone. And Radiance manages to come together in a wistful ending that somehow reads as both solid and porous, sustaining this reader with a satisfaction and calm born of uncertainty."
—Victoria Patterson in Three Guys One Book
"In Louis B. Jones, as in no other writer working today, a sense of moral outrage, that rare thing, is yoked, oddly and with extraordinary power, to a thrilling gift for lyrical prose."
—Michael Chabon, author of Kavalier and Clay
California's Over leads us down an unmarked road to the coast and then deep into the rotten, labyrinthine house where James Farmican, the famous poet, shot himself to death years ago, leaving behind a legacy of adulation and bankruptcy. Now his family is leaving, and the young narrator — who calls himself Baelthon — has been hired to haul the furniture onto the lawn and sort through the attic and basement. But as Baelthon excavates, he also discovers layers of family mystery and comedy and cruelty, all of it piled too deeply for anyone to sort out: the unexplained disappearance of Farmican's ashes, the unfinished novel that may actually be his suicide note, the opera about cannibalism that his son is writing to rescue himself from obscurity, and, finally, the family's migration to the Nevada desert to claim their inheritance.
And Baelthon discovers Wendy, Farmican's sixteen-year-old daughter, who keeps her checkers pieces taped to the board where she and her father left them before he died. Emerging from her chrysalis of baby fat and self-loathing, Wendy is destined to be both the love of Baelthon's life and the object of his betrayal.
Twenty-five years later, from the perspective of mid- and middle-class life, Baelthon recalls the mistaken selves he and the Farmicans once inhabited. What he doesn't expect — or think he deserves — is the redemption and abiding, against-all-odds love that await him.
"With all due respect to Allen Ginsberg, California's Over is substantial proof that Louis B. Jones is one of the best minds of our generation."
— Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club
The people are so human and written with so original a cunning that they are virtually worlds in themselves.
— Richard Eder
Louis B. Jones is a skillful satirist, who sees all, knows all, but who is never cruel.
From the Book Jacket:
Particles and Luck is the story of one night, two men, and an invisible third force that had brought these two men together. Mark Perdue and Roger Hoberman have nothing in common — except the joy of adjoining yards. Mark is a whiz-kid physicist who knows that the "genius" stature and the endowed chair at Berkeley that have been accorded him are bits of dumb luck. Roger is the owner of a pizza franchise whose luck has turned dumb — in financial and marital distress, he has been denied child-visitation rights but not babysitting obligations.
Roger and Mark have just been notified of a claim of adverse possession on their property, effective the next day. Particles and Luck is the story of the Halloween night they spend together trying to imagine how this threat will materialize. Camped out amidst pieces of Roger's Naugahyde furniture, warmed by a pile of Kingsford briquettes, marking boundary lines with Oakland Raiders pennants — this will be a night unlike any other night in contemporary fiction. Loony, humane, and transcendently wise, Particles and Luck is an irresistible comedy of manners and epistemology.
One experiences the characters with shifting feelings of tenderness and exasperation, hope and despair. Hilarious ... gracefully written...[Jones] has created a quirky but wholly real work in which to examine themes of fate and coincidence in a seemingly effortless manner."
— Chicago Tribune
"A lovely and invigorating novel...a domestic farce and social satire. Jones writes [an] engaging novelistic equivalent of a unified field theory -- in this case, a link between the human heart and the behavior of subatomic particles."
— Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
"Jones is the real thing -- a writer with something to say and his own way of saying it."
— Scott Turow
"What a smart novel "Particle and Luck" is. How good of Louis B. Jones to remind us what a beautiful land -- a terra linda -- we live in, and to remind us of the beautiful universe beyond."
— Carolyn See, New York Times Book Review
"Mr. Jones has fulfilled the promise of his unusual first novel, "Ordinary Money," about the real and the false in contemporary American culture, as experienced by a man who lays his hands on a fortune in counterfeit money so real that it can't be differentiated from the genuine. And he has pointed the way for more good things to come."
— Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times
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Ordinary Money is about money, luck, the American dream of success -- and a wooden crate of twenty dollar bills in Wayne Paschke's garage. Wayne doesn't know about the crate at first. It belongs to his best friend Randy Potts. The feds claim that the bills are authentic. Randy knows otherwise, but he doesn't want to tamper with his luck.
But when members of their families discover the loot, suddenly everyone's life changes from ordinary to extraordinary. And Wayne and Randy find themselves snared in a scheme so big and so perfect that it not only threatens to disrupt their lives, but the entire global monetary system.
Jones has a jeweler's eye for lyric conjunctions of the ordinary and the grotesque, and he puts it to good use in this moving, funny, and disturbing meditation on the counterfeit and the real in American life. — Robert Hass, U.S. Poet Laureate
Smart, funny, uplifting, tender, and merciless, all at once … a remarkable achievement for one novel.
— Los Angeles Times
An uproariously satirical book, the product of an opulent imagination.
— Sunday New York Times
It is not just heartening, but surprising as well, to find so generous and original a first novel. Wise and accomplished and funny, Ordinary Money presents a vision of the interconnectedness of ordinary things.
— Howard Mittelmark, Philadelphia Enquirer
Wonderful … an unfailingly entertaining experience."
— Christopher Lehmann-Haup, New York Times
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