As Nathan has mentioned a few times, J. Mulrooney has a gift for turning impressive phrases. He also manages to spend a few chapters setting up some great scenes. His characterizations are deft as well. Every character has their own specific personality that suffuses every scene. Even relatively minor characters like the Indian mathematicians are presented as separate and distinct with their own goals and motivations.
Oddly enough, I found myself enjoying this specifically Canadian novel. The Canuckness of An Equation goes well beyond, "it's set in Canada, so...hockey I guess". Their judging respect and contempt for Americans. Cooper's iron-clad politeness, and even the relative amicableness of Julius in the face of Thisbe's constant hypergamy, ring true to many of the Canadians I've encountered (and as a Michigander that number is higher than for most Americans). The weather, the governmental processes and the interplay between the local PD and the RCMP, they are all nice departures from the usual LA or NYC or NO setting of most literary type novels.
Speaking of great one liners, here's a few of my favorites:
- To judge by the number of Holocaust movies, the world is now seventy-five percent Jewish.
- It was as if the baby boomers, after a lifetime of careless destructions of all the good and lovely things in the world, finally admitted that Elvis Presley was only someone whom they had pretended to like because he annoyed their fathers.
- And, although he did not know the Baltimore catechism as well as his father did, Maconachie nonetheless knew enough to disapprove of devils using hellfire to heat their homes. At the least, there was a zoning violation.