Posted by: Lizzie Ross | March 28, 2010

Yes, I read adult books, too

Where Do You Stop? Eric Kraft (1995), Picador, 181 pp.

Subtitle: The Personal History, Adventurers, Experiences and Observations of Peter Leroy, continued. Peter, whom I’d marry in a second, if his beloved Albertine ever left him, has had the most incredible life, which he is painstakingly laying out before his fans in the PHAEOPL. This volume of Kraft’s saga focuses on a year (or so) from Peter’s school days–specifically, seventh grade (in the 1950s)–and goes way beyond the usual coming-of-age fare to consider metaphysics and quite a few other big questions.

Like all the other Peter Leroy novels, this one begins with several esoteric quotes that set the mood (the ones here mostly concerned with physics) and then a Preface continuing Leroy’s ruminations on the workings of memory and how writers twist memory into memoir. [Despite biographical overlaps, if you read Leroy as Kraft’s alter-ego, you could be in trouble. Although there are others who don’t agree with me about this.]

Then we move quickly into the problem: Leroy’s 7th grade science teacher makes an assignment: Answer the question: Where do you stop? Due date: when it’s finished. So this book is Leroy’s completed assignment, and it’s a joy. If any of my students turned in an assignment this good, years and years after the due date, I’d hack into the college’s computer system to change their grades.

The basic question Peter sets out to answer is, “Where is the end of ‘you’ and the start of ‘not-you’?” I.e., where do you stop? It’s a perfect assignment for him, given his younger habit of sitting on the pier and trying to see how close he could set his foot to the water without actually touching it (not mentioned in this book, but true fans will remember this old habit as Peter thinks about his assigned question).

Read this, and you’ll never be able to see the word “spline” or a splined rod, without thinking of Peter and his friends, crawling through the star-lit grass, trying to get to the lighthouse/watchtower before they’re spotted.

Watch for future posts about other books about Peter.

And click here for a special Eric Kraft treat.

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Responses

  1. […] there’s one series I’ve omitted. Or, to be more precise, I’ve posted about only one book out of this set of (for now) 12 books. These are Eric Kraft’s amazingly […]


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