Philip Engstrand is a professor who studies other professors and their disciplines. He realizes he is deeply in love with particle physicist Alice Coombs right about the time she becomes engrossed in a possibly monumental breakthrough: the creation of a singularity -- a black hole -- in the lab. Philip grows frantic as Alice and many others on campus become enthralled by this "Lack": speculating on which objects it will engulf and which it rejects. Other researchers try out their theories on the phenomenon while psychologist Cynthia Jalter flirts heavily with Philip. Lethem lampoons various contemporary academic fads, and there's a marvelous scene at a drunken cocktail party, while Philip tries ever more desperate means to get Alice back and she continues to recede from him.
This report prepared by David Loftus