Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Plane Geometry (And Other Affairs of the Heart)

Plane Geometry

Plane Geometry and Other Affairs of the Heart
by Ralph M. Berry

1985. 190 pp.
ISBN 978-0-914590-88-0
Price: $21.75 s

1985. 190 pp.
ISBN 978-0-914590-89-7
Price: $12.50


Seven stories of the Earth turned topsy-turvy, of Atlanta in flames, Florida under ice, of Adams, Eves, Pythagorean rock bands and Martin Heidegger's shortest speech, of rising into love, falling apart, of semihemidemiquavers, dodecahedrons, eigenvalues, quarks, of Milton's blindness, of sin's light, here in the Milky Way galaxy where whatever you fear might happen already has. During the great Pensacola blizzard a geometry teacher solaces his shattered heart building trapezoids from the floorboards of his snow-filled home; on his thirtieth birthday Harry Sneltzer wakes to discover he's been metamorphosed into his own dad. An executive turns to terrorism, his wife turns to dust, and a Chicago physicist reassures us that, despite the disequilibrium of space travel, anyone going round in circles long enough will come home young. All these affairs take shape just above the dark plane of seem and be, in the heart's interstice, within a geometry book as convoluted as desire, where each constellation becomes another, where ends are all beginnings, where everything is up in the air.

"Structurally fascinating..." —Robert Coover

" imaginative integration of the aesthetic possibilities of mathematics and science with those of literature and philosophy."--Los Angeles Times

"Ideas offer salvation and wreak havoc in Plane Geometry, R.M. Berry's knock 'em dead first collection of short stories."--Voice Literary Supplement

"Literature has not often done justice to the passion for form in mathematics, physics or music. In Plane Geometry, an excellent first collection of short stories, R. M. Berry attempts to connect the passions of intellectual form with passionate feelings like romantic love...Mr. Berry doesn't overcome gravity, but he does show that heavy abstractions become buoyant when they are treated this lovingly." —William S. Wilson, New York Times Book Review


On the morning of his thirteenth birthday Harry Sneltzer woke to the disquieting realization that he was becoming his father. He slid from his bed, stumbles into the bathroom and, staring at his sleep - gazed eyes in the mirror, tried out a few characteristic phrases:

"Harry, son …"

"Seen the paper?"

"Can't find my socks." Yes, though a decade has passed since his father's death, Harry still remembered the voice well enough to recognize it - the rapid spitting out of syllables, an affinity for rising inflections, the explosive reiterations. Even his body this morning was not his own. He stared at his legs. Spindly and faintly bowed, with flesh too pale and hair too black and wiry, these were the legs Harry had seen beneath his father's heavy white shirted torso in the hall of his parents' home. But worse than these physical transformations was a feeling - he had no idea from where it came - that at any moment he might say or do something that wasn't his own, that even his thoughts were coming from somewhere else. Was this a crisis, he wondered stepping into the shower? He fiddled with the water flow. He couldn't remember if his father had preferred warm or stinging cold.

"Harry, Son, it's good- GOOD- to see you again!"

Harry turned away from his office window and gazed into the white incisors and bulbous jowls beaming at him from his desk.

"Dad. Why, what are you doing here?"

"Hah! That's good, Harry. That's clever. A real sense of humor, that boy. What am I doing in your office? Is that it? Hah, hah! Rich."

"Hah, hah …"

"But I've seen you looking better." His father frowned down momentarily at Harry's briefcase resting on the floor to the side of the desk, then cut his eyes at Harry thoughtfully.

"Yes. I've definitely seen you looking less peakish."

"Well, jeez, Dad, I guess it's this influence business."


"Don't get me wrong. I liked you. It's just that … well, one of you seemed enough."