The Mechanism of Chance

Fiction - General
177 Pages
Reviewed on 08/08/2020
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Author Biography

Robert Lovinger spent his childhood surrounded by loving, quirky aunts and uncles, one of whom found his way into the family by accident and provides the inspiration for "The Mechanism of Chance."

A father, husband, former journalist and mediocre poker player, Lovinger is a New York City native living in Massachusetts. If pressed, his favorite food is seven-layer chocolate cake.

"The Mechanism of Chance" is his third novel. The other two are "It's Snowing in Las Vegas" and "Electricity."

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Mechanism of Chance is a work of fiction in the slice of life, interpersonal drama, and psychological sub-genres, and was penned by author Robert Lovinger. Written for adult reading audiences, the work does contain a few instances of explicit language and some non-graphical sexual references. Our protagonist is Desi, a broken man with a penchant for gambling, who we see living a very lonely existence in his retirement. A series of chance encounters lead this apathetic man in a new direction, and a visit to a far-flung island may just be the thing he needs to change the course of the rest of his life for good.

Author Robert Lovinger has crafted a deeply involved personal drama and a fantastic character study in this short but highly effective novel. I felt like Desi was a real person right from the off, not just for his flawed personality, but from the realism in his motivations and reactions to the plot around him. The dialogue was accomplished and added to this effect, so much so that you feel you can hear his words in your mind as you read. The plot structure presents episodic moments that build to a bigger climax, which works really well for the psychological aspect of the storytelling, and it also keeps us as readers very interested in what will happen next. Overall, I would certainly recommend The Mechanism of Chance for readers seeking realistic characters thrust into improbable situations to great emotive and psychological effect.

Edith Wairimu

The Mechanism of Chance by Robert Lovinger follows a retired court officer, Desiderio “Desi” Wechsler, as he traces his roots back to Cuba. After the death of his mother, Desi’s father leaves him in the care of Desi’s aunt. Throughout his childhood, his cousins continuously bully and torture him. Upon the suggestion of his therapist, Desi signs up as a volunteer for a research study in Alzheimer's disease. He meets Lucy Blackstone, a senior researcher working at the Boston University Brain Institute, who becomes a dear friend. Lucy is excited at the possibility of working in the field of her dreams at the Painter Institute of Neuroscience which is devoted to the study of the nature of consciousness. The stability and certainty of her current job, however, makes her hesitant to take the leap.

The Mechanism of Chance features original characters who face relatable challenges. Desi is isolated and his painful childhood still influences his relationships with his family and other people. He also hopes to learn more about his heritage. Similar to real life, the characters face uncertainty as in the case of Lucy who is fearful of the unknown but also courageous enough to follow her dreams. The novel also contains informative historical and cultural elements of Cuba. The scenes are authentic as they show realistic conversations while dialogue is used sometimes to reveal a character’s unique traits. Desi’s short sentences portray him as a reserved man unwilling to engage in lengthy conversations. The Mechanism of Chance by Robert Lovinger is an interesting read which offers an inside look into a retiree’s life and his hopeful pursuit of finding out about his paternal lineage.

Lesley Jones

In The Mechanism of Chance by Robert Lovinger, Desiderio Wechsler is 58 years old, a recently retired court officer and in therapy. Being an outsider is what Desi has become used to and he prefers it that way. At least he is free to gamble when he likes with no interference from anyone. Desi's contempt for people is well-known to those around him. He believes life is just something to get through. Losing his mother as a child and believing his father abandoned him is proof enough that he is better off alone. His life takes a dramatic turn when his therapist suggests he volunteers for a study at a local hospital, where he meets young neuroscientist Lucy Blackstone. More chance meetings follow and slowly Desi begins to see the world with a new outlook. It is only when Desi suffers a dramatic loss that he decides to face his painful past and begins a journey that could turn his life around.

The subject matter of this book will send your emotions reeling. The author has an incredible talent for creating realistic and powerful dialogue that reveals the innermost thoughts of each character. The gambling scenes were incredibly detailed and authentic. The connection Desi developed with Lucy was heartwarming; they were so supportive of each other. I loved seeing Desi's character develop as the story progressed. There are some scenes that will make you laugh out loud while others will break your heart. The writing is beautiful and tackles the subject of how events in your childhood can affect your relationships with others incredibly well. I hope there is a follow-up novel as I feel there is so much of Desi to explore. I would also like to know more about his parents' relationship. The Mechanism of Chance by Robert Lovinger is a fantastic and powerful story.

Phil Terzis

Loved this book. By the last chapter, the characters felt like old friends and the places like home. I didn’t want the book to end.