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Book Review: Love at Absolute Zero by Christopher Meeks

“If the experiments do not bear out the hypothesis, the hypothesis must be rejected or modified.”

– From the Scientific Method

When physicist Gunnar Gunderson decides it’s time to find a mate, he means business. Early in his career, he is much too busy for silly things like dating. But he swears to his friends that if and when he receives tenure at the university where he teaches and conducts research, he will take the time to look for love. To his dismay, his fellow research scientists remember that vow. Armed with the belief that the Scientific Method will make the task easy Gunnar relents, on condition that they spend only three days trying to find his soul mate. The race against MIT to create Bose-Einstein condensates is too compelling to spend time on much, if anything, but his research. And so begins a madcap weekend and the reinvention of a more socially acceptable, attractive Professor Gunnar Gunderson. As for love, well, all the elements are there, but the question is – how well do they add up?

It’s no secret that love often, if not usually, follows an unexpected course and this is certainly true in Gunnar’s case. Unless, of course, one would expect a mild-mannered, overly self-conscious, socially naïve, sexually inexperienced 32-year-old physicist to suddenly risk his career, move from Wisconsin to Copenhagen, and end up smoking hashish in Christiania with his ex-girlfriend’s brother and a beautiful, sexy young woman.

“Gunnar,” said Henrik. “This isn’t heroin or anything….”

Gunnar was feeling good. What had he had against ever trying it? He couldn’t remember. He pulled the [hash] to his face.

“Suck in slowly,” said Henrik applying the flame from his lighter, and Gunnar inhaled. As a teenager, he’d once stolen a few cigarettes from his mother, and tried to smoke them by himself in the woods. He found it harsh, and he had coughed hard. This smoke was not as bad.

Henrik withdrew the flame. “Not too much at once,” he said. “Hold it in…Good. Now exhale.” Gunnar did…He looked around. He didn’t feel that different. “Let me try again,” he said.

Henrik looked pleased. “Let me refresh the bowl a little,” [he said]. He broke in a little more bud, scraped in a few more shavings of hash. The flame met the bowl, and Gunnar inhaled. He blew out the white smoke.

“How’re ya feelin?” said Kathleen…rather sensuously.

“Just fine…” said Gunnar, and she and Henrik laughed.

Gunnar’s attempt to make scientific sense of matters of the heart becomes a hilarious tale of love and heartbreak, desperation and desire. Readers may find themselves falling for Gunnar and will certainly find themselves rooting for him.

In Love at Absolute Zero, author Christopher Meeks has given us a funny, racy story about the science of love and a lovable character we just might recognize among us. Between a Wisconsin university campus and the streets of Denmark, his highly intelligent yet socially awkward physicist, Gunnar Gunderson, will pull at your heartstrings and make you laugh at the same time. I dare you not to cheer for him.


Christopher Meeks has been published in several literary journals and is the author of two short-story collections, Months and Seasons and The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea. His novel, The Brightest Moon of the Century was hailed as one of the Ten Best Books of 2009 by three book critics. One of his three full-length plays that were launched in Los Angeles, Who Lives?, was nominated for Los Angeles’ top theatre prize, the Ovation, five times. He resides with his family in Los Angeles, where he currently teaches English and Writing.

Disclosure: This book was given to me by the author during pre-publication for the purpose of review.



  1. Pingback: See Author Christopher Meeks at The Bookcase of Wayzata « The Raabe Review - 16 September, 2011

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