Chaos theory says that a tiny, almost imperceptible event can have large, even catastrophic coincidences: a butterfly flapping its wings in North America leads to a hurricane on another continent, for example. In this fictional take on chaos theory, several offbeat characters are linked by a single event that expands through time, sweeping them up in it and changing their lives. A traveler works a nifty trick with a playing card, and a tornado strikes a small Illinois town; a woman is born during the tornado and later meets the man who set it in motion; 1,200 years earlier, a man who is supposed to be stoned to death discovers he has an uncanny knack for surviving; and, back in the present day, another man speaks only in the present tense. Comparisons of this novel to the works of Tom Robbins are both obvious and appropriate: the story meanders around in an entertaining manner, never getting too serious about itself; the characters are splendidly loopy, close to caricature but never quite reaching it, and the situations in which they find themselves are comic, dramatic, and everything in between.
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