by Ben Adams
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Pub Date 07 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 26 May 2022
Harry Erickson believes he’s disproven Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. Dennis Drysdale is in love with a woman he knew from high school. Timothy Henderson wants to professionally play video games.
When Harry accidentally burns his house down in a freak chicken Kiev accident, it sets events into motion that allow the three friends to pursue their individual dreams.
The trio embark on a road trip to Chicago in pursuit of their destinies and find themselves at the University of Chicago Physics department, a video game tournament, and a lunch date at Panera Bread.
Relativity is a captivating wild romp fueled with the aspirations of three men who are on a quest to dedicate their lives to their ridiculous dreams in this thought-provoking and satirical novel of friendship and finding oneself.
A Note From the Publisher
“Adams writes with equal parts wit and heart. He has that George Saunders knack to keep me giggling and flipping pages, and then suddenly, he sneaks up with visceral poignancy. This book is a blast.” —Joshua Mohr, author of Model Citizen
“Relativity is a sharp, witty careening ride of a novel about three middle-aged men coming to terms with what they want—and don’t—from their lives. Insightful, compassionate, and compulsively readable.” —Stephanie Reents, author of The Kissing List
“Ben Adams has crafted a captivating tale of comedy, tragedy, love, friendship, and flamethrowers set in the American Midwest. An aspiring physics trailblazer who works in a retirement home, a nerdy chemistry professor obsessed with extraterrestrial women, and a hard-drinking car dealership owner find common cause in responding to their interconnected personal crises. At turns moving and humorous, and always engrossing, Relativity is a truly enjoyable read.” —Arthur Shattuck O'Keefe, author of The Spirit Phone
—Advance reading copies via NetGalley and LibraryThing
—Online advertising and marketing
—ARC Giveaway via social media
—Email marketing to libraries & bookstores
—Social media campaign, including bonus content and shareable images
—Extensive author marketing includes blog and radio interviews, and regional book tour
Key Selling Points:
—Fans of humorous fiction will appreciate the absurd characters and satirical situations presented in Relativity.
—The novel has great potential to attract readers from many genres, including science fiction, which plays a major role in the story, as well as fans of 1980s pop culture and video games.
—Fans of George Saunders (The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil) and Gary Shteyngart (Our Country Friends) will find a new author to love with Ben Adams.
Average rating from 53 members
What an amazing book!
The book is super exciting and would love to read more from the author!
Thankyou netgalley for the ARC
Middle-aged men in crisis is my weakness. I don’t know what it is about their ridiculous problems but I love them.
Harry, Dennis, and Timothy have…issues. Harry’s house has burned down and he thinks he can disprove Einstein’s theory of relativity. Dennis is now with Harry’s ex-wife but feels like their relationship has gone stale and wonders if he has a chance with a woman from his past. Timothy is Harry’s best friend from childhood. His wife drinks all the time, leaving Timothy to only feel safe within the confines of a computer game he plays constantly. He also harbors a crush on one of his in-game teammates that he’s never met IRL.
The blurb for the book says it’s a road trip of these three traveling to Chicago for individual reasons (side note: they live in Bloomington and this Hoosier was tickled by the very accurate details of living in this state) but the road trip didn’t really happen until the end. It was mostly a series of amusing slice-of-life antics from men who don’t know what they’re doing. I liked the underlying animosity but weird respect that Harry and Dennis felt for each other, and Harry and Timothy’s friendship that has lasted decades. How they all fit together was fun.
I really enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting. It’s a simple, reassuring story of how no one is perfect. We do the best we can but still get it wrong a lot of the time.
What a delightfully quirky book! Three men are all going through a midlife crisis and end up in Chicago trying to get what they think they want. But that doesn't really describe this book, because it's so much more than that.
I really loved the tone and the weirdness, and while Timothy's story was the most interesting to me, I was engaged with Dennis and Henry sections too. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC. I really enjoyed this one, and I'll probably check out other works from this author!
RELATIVITY is a sharply-written, comical look at the great enigma of the midlife crisis, caught from three unique perspectives. Harry, Timothy, and Dennis all find that they are maladjusted to the demands of the present. And so, in a frantic effort to reorient themselves, they revisit relationships and whet their priorities.
The dynamics between the characters are exhilarating, and continue to thrill as the complexity of the relationships deepens. That's mainly due to the oversaturation of the men's personalities, the almost cartoonish behavior that allows a note of silliness to permeate all facets of the narrative.
Harry, specifically, with his synthetic speech and skewered vision of the universe, lays a foundation of absurdism that demands the reader's detachment from reality. His disproving of the laws of physics, Dennis' impaired perception of the woman who desires him, and Timothy's gaming lifestyle are all symptoms of the men's desire for a life worth living. Each one of them grapples with an unthinkable delusion.
Naturally, this makes for great tension, which Adams then treats to a soak in seething satire. But as their folds begin to loosen in the natural stages of expansion, the seeds of comedy reveal a bitter shell. In particular, Timothy's unusual fetish introduces the first germs of sorrow, which are then given half the book to flourish.
His extraterrestrialphilia, while outlandish enough to exhilarate, paints him as an outsider; one burdened with shame and guilt that grate against his once natural self-acceptance. Stuck in a verbally abusive and loveless marriage, he finds refuge in the fallacy of passion.
Dennis's nostalgia tears into his present. Harry's academic aspirations are heavily ridiculed, and years are shorn off his life. Any humor pertaining to the men's conditions quickly withers away, leaving them on an anguished quest to salvage the last vestige of happiness.
As we embrace the gravity of the situation, the plot's slow progress toward its resolution begins to pain us more than it ever provoked an inner back-and-forth. The novelty of both the characters and the story's upbeat surrealism wears off, solidifying into the new status quo. Consequently, the plot often feels stagnant and as reluctant to gratify as a roll of dough crawling down the throat.
While the writing remains light and teasing throughout, the men's emotional crises strain against the limits of language, contorting the novel's tone. Perhaps this wouldn't be as evident if it weren't for the recurrent nature of the characters' thoughts, which conveys the rut they're in all too well.
In the end, RELATIVITY morphs into a sort of Frankenstein's Creature, especially where attraction and aversion overlap. With that being said, it's a fun, mostly snappy read; one that regales us with the delectable ingenuity of its grand architect.
I loved reading this book. It was full of the specific quirky humor that reminds me of DFW. Like DFW, a reader can get lost in the middle section details, but here what can seem like an aside is what makes the book a real gem.
Harry Erickson has an estranged marriage, a thankless job at an assisted living facility, and a doting daughter who puts up with his eccentricities (just wait till you get to the end of this paragraph). But he also is under an unshakeable conviction that Albert Einstein got his Theory of Relativity completely awry. This stubborn persuasion leads Harry to spend eight years ensconced in a damp basement, allowing his wedding to wither and even maintain an irritable equanimity when his house (sole property) burns down in an unfortunate bout of kitchen and Kiev chicken neglect. But undeterred and undaunted, Harry proceeds to come up with a 2,635 page “self-proclaimed” tour de force rebuttal of Einstein. True to both the length of the research conducted without accosting the help of anyone and the depth of frustration caused in the process to everyone, Harry titles his work, “Omnicalcumetry: The Theory of Everything and its Application for Everyday living by Harry Erickson, a New Science for the New Millennium.”
A chance viewing of one episode of the cult Science Fiction series, Cape Canaveral, upends the life of both young Timothy Henderson and his unsuspecting set of parents. Timothy begins doodling with a vengeance, aliens having varying degrees of unnatural sex with willing humans, in various convoluted positions. However things reach a head when Timothy replaces the faces of the procreating beasts and beauties with headshots of his classmates. A confiscation of his exquisite art, a promise to meet a therapist, and a finding of extraterrestrial sex fetish or ETSF later, Timothy’s parents are forced to flee Atlanta by driving 500 odd miles to Bloomington, Indiana, after a spurned therapist (who wanted to use Timothy as the subject of an extravagant study), makes strategic calls to parents of Timothy’s classmates revealing not just the extent of monstrosity and perversion attached to Timothy’s drawings, but the roles and responsibilities of each of their offspring. Timothy gets acquainted with Harry at Indiana, proceeds to get a PhD in Chemistry, gets married and sees it ruined, before spending a greater part of his time matching wits with kids in Massive Multiple Role Playing Online Video Games.
Even if Dennis Drysdale did not know everyone in Bloomington, every resident of Bloomington knew Dennis. You could safely bet that all cars owned by inhabitants of Bloomington invariably rolled out from one of the three dealership outlets owned, or rather inherited by Dennis from his father. Born with a silver spoon or an excellent pair of radial tyres in his mouth, Dennis inherited multiple well established and extremely prosperous car dealership outlets from his father under suspicious if not mysterious circumstances. Such circumstances involved, among other things, causing untold grief to the IRS, making a visit to prison and consequently dropping dead within its confines. Dennis does his own bit to add fuel to the fire by guzzling beer almost every waking moment of the day, and night (when he is not having whiskey that is) and marrying Harry’s divorced wife, Amanda. He even boasts that the day Amanda separated from Harry, Dennis made love to her in a brand new Porsche!
Three men with their own proclivities, penchant and passion. Three men left to rue lost opportunities. Three men with nothing to salvage in life, well almost. On a sunny morning when a trip to Chicago offers a chance for the troika to alter their life in a paradigm shifting manner, they grasp at the opportunity like three drowning men clutching at a solitary straw. But there is a hitch. They would need to make the journey in tandem. Their aspirations would take them to the Physics Department at the University of Chicago, a video game tournament where the best of the best match wits against one another, and a lunch date at a non-descript Panera Bread.
Ben Adams’ “Relativity” is not just a romp. Hidden amidst rib tickling lines that make the reader guffaw, is a beautiful story of life affirming hope. A conviction in the goodness of humanity. A conviction that is as powerful (if not more) as the one nurtured by Harry Erickson towards Omnicalcumetry, the belief nursed by Timothy in the leadership capabilities of Colonel Jackson in Cape Canaveral, and Dennis’ undying obsession towards booze and basketball.
(Relativity by Ben Adams is published by BHC Press and will be available for sale beginning 7th June 2022. Thank you Net Galley for the Advance Reviewer Copy).
If Douglas Adams Wrote "Men's Fiction". Take the hilarity and wit that *Douglas* Adams was known for in his scifi and apply it instead to a tale of three middle aged men each having distinct mid-life crises that all get wrapped up in each other... and you basically have this book. More of a "men's fiction" tale that explores similar themes as the better known "women's fiction" genre, but focusing on the guys rather than the gals, this is a wild romp with heart - and a relatively short read at under 250 pages to boot. Adams manages to pack quite a tale within that lower page count though, and the laughs are on nearly every page. Truly a more lighthearted and off-the-wall book that many may need in trying times. Very much recommended.
The story is about three men who are taking a chance at their dream, and the journey that brought them to where they are. Harry believes he can disprove the theory of relativity. Timothy, who has a PHD in Chemistry, plays online video games competitively and wants to connect with his gaming partner who he has never met in real life. Dennis inherited the car dealership he owns, is married to Harry's ex-wife, and is hoping to reconnect with that girl from high school he was too afraid to ever talk to. Getting to know these men, how they think, and how they connect together was very interesting. Their dreams have become the sole focus of their lives, and they cling to them, pushing aside and letting go of what doesn't coexist with this focus. I was hoping that each of these men would find a real happiness while I was reading with quiet satire. I especially loved how the author presents these less then perfect men who are doing the best they can, and presents them in a way that allows us to feel for them.
Thank you Netgalley and BHC Press for the digital arc. This is my honest review.
Thank you to the publishers at BHC Press and Netgalley for this e-ARC of Relativity. And a special thanks to @letstalkbookpromos for having me on this tour!
Relativity is the story of three men, all leading extremely different lives in the same small town of Bloomington, Indiana.
Harry, a college dropout and divorced from the only woman he ever loved, has been working on a thesis paper for the last 8 years, disproving Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Excited about the prospects this proposal will bring him, Harry daydreams his days away with visions of the future.
Dennis is dating Amanda, Harry’s ex-wife, but he’s not happy. As he reminisces on the past, Dennis decides to reach out to a woman he had a crush on during high school. When she actually replies, Dennis begins to imagine a new life with her and slowly begins pushing Amanda away.
Timothy, Harry’s best friend, spends most of his time living vicariously through his RPG character, Derek Storm. Playing with a group of friends he met online, Timothy avoids his alcoholic wife as she drinks the day away. But Timothy has found love again, in the form of his teammate, Lexlitha. Determined to win her heart, he makes plans to see her during the gaming tournament in Chicago.
When all three men find themselves needing to head to Chicago on the same weekend, an unlikely friendship forms.
I thought this novel had a lot of funny lines, but the amount of sci-fi references was a bit much for my taste. I also enjoyed the ending, when each man finally found what he’d been missing. While I wish it had focused more on the road trip (this was just the last 20% or so) I appreciated all of the background information that led these men on this trip.
Thank you NetGalley and BHC Press for this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.
This book was interesting and filled with some eccentric characters. I enjoyed each of the main characters backstories from their POVs. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Harry and his daughter, Sarah. I found each of their stories quite hilarious. The most entertaining was Dennis.
Three middle-aged men on a quest to fulfill their dreams...
Harry - is an aloof character who has escaped his current reality to finish his over 2,000 page on his theory Omnicalcumetry, trying to disprove Einstein's theory of general relativity.
Timothy - Harry's best friend and Chemistry Professor at the University of Indiana who is unhappy in his marriage and turns to his love of sci-fi video games as an escape from his current life.
Dennis - his girlfriend is Amanda (Harry's ex-wife), owns a bunch of car dealerships in Bloomington, and loves to drink in his man cave. Desperate to discover some meaning in his life, he finds his high school crush on Facebook and decides to reconnect with her.
Harry, Timothy, and Dennis embark on a road trip to Chicago. Will this road trip live up to their hopes and dreams?
Out June 7, 2022 [Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review!]
Rating: 3/5 stars
Three middle-aged men, each seeking a different kind of personal and professional fulfillment (including one who hopes to disprove Einstein’s theory of relativity) set off on a road trip to Chicago.
I went into this book with absolutely no expectations whatsoever, as it’s a bit outside my normal genre and I hadn’t heard of it until the author reached out to me. That’s not at all a bad thing—sometimes it’s fun to go into a book pretty much blind, and that was the case here.
RELATIVITY is unique, memorable, and ultimately pretty fun. It’s a bit of a slow burn, but the character development is very strong, and I found myself rooting for the characters even when I was simultaneously annoyed by them. I also really enjoyed the direction each of the character arcs ultimately went, which, without spoiling anything, wasn’t necessarily what I expected! Finally, I’m a big fan of anything that’s a bit bizarre, absurd, and/or over the top, and RELATIVITY offered moments of all three, which I deeply appreciated!
Recommended if you like: buddy dramedies; quirky fiction; quick reads.
CW: Pregnancy loss; alcoholism; misogyny/sexual harassment; fire (no injury).
Thank you Netgalley for this ACR for an exchange for an honest review.
Excellent book, nicely written.
Harry, Timothy, and Dennis are all from Bloomington Indiana. Born(except for Timothy and how he wound up here is part of his story) and raised here, they see no reason to ever leave. Until a road trip to Chicago leads each of them to the one thing that is alluding them, the chance to live a larger life by finally facing the ‘what if dilemma’. At first glance, I thought this was about three men each having a midlife crisis, but the more I thought about it, it was more like a whole lifetime crisis.
The story opens with Harry's house on fire. He escapes and has managed to save only one thing, the paper he has been working on for the last eight years. His revolutionary theory, Omnicalcumetry, which if he can ever finish it and get someone else to read it, will change the world (in his opinion). While part of me respected the fact that Harry let nothing get in the way of his belief, another bigger part of me was so sad because he neglected everything and everyone around him to do it. While I guess all his scientific blabber was supposed to be funny, I didn't get the joke( might just be me). To me, he was just someone I couldn’t relate to at all. He wound up being my least favorite character.
Timothy was in grade school when he was expelled for drawing extremely inappropriate pictures. Even though his parents moved to Bloomington so he could have a fresh start, he has suppressed his inner nature ever since. He is a college professor whose marriage is in shambles and a gamer determined to tell a woman on his team his true feelings for her. While his love for an old TV show, Captain Canaveral, and his role-playing gaming fantasies was a bit over the top for me, I could relate to how it was the only part of his world that he felt in control. He was neck and neck for being my favorite character, but ultimately it was Dennis.
Dennis comes from a wealthy family, and he has taken over his father's car dealership. Despite expanding it and being a born salesman, his life revolves around his next drink. He is unhappy in his relationship with Amanda, Harry’s ex-wife, and reaches out to his high school crush Jennifer. He imagines how much better his life would be without Amanda and with Jennifer. He may just learn that the grass isn’t always greener over the fence.
This leads the three men to head to Chicago together. Do things go exactly as planned? Nope. I felt Dennis grew the most as a character. All I can say is there were quite a few passages where I was lost (the science and the gaming) but still overall this was a quirky, compelling and engaging story. I have a habit of continuing stories in my mind, and this time I am pretty sure Dennis and Timothy were going to be better men. As for Harry, I still have hope.
Thank you so much @tlcbooktours @benadamswrites @bhc.press & @bentadams11 for the eArc!
If you also love a good quest book (the modern kind in a car vs on a horse) & appreciate found family adventures- pick this one up. This was such a unique book!
Short synopsis: Harry believes he can disprove Einstein’s theory of Relativity with a 2,000+ page paper, Dennis is wanting to meet up with an old high school fling, and Timothy is hoping to win big at a gaming convention. Three old college friends go on a road trip to Chicago to try and achieve all their long ago dreams.
My thoughts: I don’t read many books written by men, not sure why, and many of them don’t have men as the main characters. I enjoyed getting into their brains a little bit and seeing how their minds work.
The writing flowed really nicely and this ended up being a quick read. There were definitely topics far outside my wheelhouse (Gaming, science etc) but it was fun to learn a little about it as I read.
My only other drawback was I was expecting quite an adventure when I saw this book described as a road trip between friends. Really, that doesn’t even happen until the last 15% of the book.
Read this if you’re a sucker for:
* Gaming and Comic Con
* Scientific discoveries
* College friends
It took me a while to get into this book but once i did it's a pretty interesting read.
This book is written from the perspective of 3 men who are unhappy with their lives and long for something better. We always see this for women so it was amazing reading a male's point of view
I can honestly say I’ve never read a book quite like this one before. It’s about three sort of friends whose lives are interconnected. Harry Erickson dropped out of college and works as a janitor, but he believes his 2,000+ page tome disproving Einstein’s theory of Relativity will change the world as we know it. His wife left him—probably because he was spending so much time working on the theory he calls Omnicalcumetry—and is now living with her boyfriend Dennis Drysdale, a car dealership mogul and alcoholic who’s certain his life would be better if he’d just had the courage to talk to his high school crush. Naturally he looks her up on Facebook and starts a DM relationship. And Timothy Henderson, who met Harry in grade school after Timothy was forced to move because of an unfortunate incident at school involving a very specific sexual kink of his becoming public, is a professor in an unhappy marriage who wants to be a professional video game player. He’s certain he’s in love with a member of his gaming team even though he’s never met her in real life and only knows her avatar.
There were a lot of funny things in Relativity, and I enjoyed how over-the-top it was. At times I thought I was reading a satire, but then a smaller, more tender moment would happen and I wasn’t so sure. I don’t know that it matters that I couldn’t pin down the genre/tone, but I wasn’t always clear if I was supposed to feel sympathy for the characters or be laughing at them. By the end, I think I ended up pretty sympathetic towards all of them, but because of the amount of emotional cheating they did, I don’t think any of them are people I’d want as friends in real life.
In our discussion of the book, it was clear that many of us, myself included, mainly read books by female authors, and it was really interesting to get this male perspective in a book where the theme was kind of a shared mid-life crisis.
One of my favorite things about #bookstagram is being introduced to Different books. Without it I would probably be over here reading beach romances all day. This one is not a beach Romance!
What do you get when you mix a house fire (caused by chicken Kiev) a road trip and a video game tournament? You get a book that reminds me a bit of Big Bang Theory and Mythic Quest. This is different than what I usually read but enjoyable just the same.
Huge thank you to Bhc @berittalksbooks @thephdivabooks and @dg_reads for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
What do three guys do when they aren’t satisfied with the way their lives are going?
They go on a road trip from Bloomington, Indiana to Chicago with each trying to fulfill a different void in their lives.
Harry, a middle aged college drop out, has written a 2,635 page paper “explaining everything that is wrong in the universe” with part of that paper disproving Einstein’s theory of relativity. He is going to the University of Chicago to hopefully get his paper published.
Timothy, Harry’s best friend and a chemistry professor, is going to play in a video game tournament with the hope of winning the million dollar prize and connecting IRL with one of his virtual team members.
Dennis, Harry’s ex-wife’s boyfriend, is going to meet a woman that he feels understands his inner self.
This is a satirical novel that at times had me chuckling and other times had me feeling quite sad for these three guys.
The read has very snappy dialogue and the bulk of the book contains detailed backstories into why all three of the main characters are making the road trip.
I thought the resolution of this book was great. I think even though this has plenty of satirical moments it still teaches a valuable lesson on happiness.
Relativity is a unique and at times fun read! It's the story of three men from Bloomington, Indiana each living separate lives but when circumstances arise and they find themselves needing to go to Chicago a friendship develops. I enjoyed each of the characters. They can be quite eccentric! The story flowed well making it an easy read. There's was some scientific terms that I had no idea what they were but altogether it was interesting to readabdget to know each of these men.
Thank you Let's Talk Books Promo and Ben Adams for sharing this book with me!
I enjoyed this book! The premise of a road trip of three guys was new and fun. It was a quick and easy read for me and I really liked it.
I went into this book pretty much blind. All I knew about it, is that three men from Indiana go on a road trip to Chicago and one of them hopes to challenge Einstein’s theory of relativity.
I was very much intrigued by this concept and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a funny yet heartwarming character driven story , a bit wild and scientific.
This book is different twist on my typical reads, but the description definitely caught my attention - I love a good road trip quest. Just starting this book and already laughing at Harry’s run down of the house fire - though the jury’s still out on whether I find him cute and bumbly, or annoyingly in need of a slap 🤪
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