In Salant's uneven comic novel, professor Wilson Ablong is a genius of sorts who once had an awesome idea that turned into a unified theory and changed everything for humanity. Ever since, he's been coasting along in a tenured faculty position at his university, where he insults students, toys with colleagues, and generally refuses to engage with anyone. This works out fine until his long-lost son, Tex, shows up and forces him to connect with people. The strain sends Ablong into a breakdown. As he recovers, he opens up about his fears, his doubts, and the hallucinatory value of broccoli. Ablong's very circumscribed academic world doesn't make Salant's work unenjoyable, but it does impose unfortunate limitations on the novel and the audience it's likely to reach. The book has moments that are laugh-out-loud funny, but those high points are separated by pseudo-Socratic dialogues that, much like Ablong himself, fail to reach an emotional core.