cover image The Unknowns

The Unknowns

Gabriel Roth. Little, Brown, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-316-22328-7

A geek turned dot-com millionaire tries to hack the irrational pathways of love in Roth’s memorable debut. For high school computer nerd Eric Muller, discovering the opposite sex is a “revelation.” Determined to apply the scientific method to landing a girl, he begins “gathering data” on the opposite sex, only to have his embarrassing research exposed. After college, however, a Silicon Valley windfall gives Eric enough confidence and money to help even a geek get a girl into bed. But when Eric meets Maya, a reporter, real intimacy is complicated by Eric’s attempts to “solve” her unresolved past, putting his first real relationship at risk. This story is set in 2002, against the backdrop of the pending invasion of Iraq, with Americans at odds over an unknowable future, a subtle and illuminating parallel that underscores Eric’s own uncertainty. Roth presents two narrative threads in alternating chapters and is equally adept at inhabiting both adolescent Eric and the smoother adult he becomes. Wry observational humor and captivating internal monologues make this promising new voice reminiscent of Ben Lerner and Joshua Ferris. Agent: Anna Stein, Aitken Alexander Associates. (July)