The short stories in Unified Field Theory capture characters in the middle of their lives as things fall apart. Jobs, marriages, and hopes disintegrate under people while they seek strategies and explanations. In "When the Hoot Owl Moves Its Nest, " a surveyor blames the wreck of his marriage on his inability to interpret old-fashioned signs. In "If You Meet the Buddha by the Road, " a bicyclist seeks peace, and perhaps finds it, in Buddhism, while his ex-wife grieves for her lost youth. In the title story, a warehouseman seeks to overcome resignation through his misconception of particle physics. Frank Soos's stories do not move toward epiphany. The men and women in Unified Field Theory have moments of emotional or intellectual recognition, but their lives are too complex for these moments to suggest long-term alterations. The stories suggest a way of thoughtfully and emotionally participating in other people's worlds.
Frank Soos is a professor of English at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. He is the author of the essay collection "Bamboo Fly Rod Suite," and the short-story collection "Unified Field Theory" (both Georgia).