I doubt I will raise eyebrows by confessing that this review was written with the help of a word-processing program. I feel quite safe seeing my words appear in yellow letters on a black screen. The computer bears me no malice, nor does it have an opinion of my literary ability. If it malfunctions, the problem is caused by the manufacturer’s oversight, or my own ignorance. The computer is a machine—nothing more, nothing less.

Even so, a growing number of scientists are convinced that one day my computer will reject my commas or debate my views of the universe. This optimistic faith in the power of machines only enhances the fears of those who are still more comfortable with a legal pad and a sharpened pencil. In Hence, his brave new novel, the poet and novelist Brad Leithauser plunges into the heart of this dichotomy, playing with our preconceived notions of man versus machine. He is no Luddite, and is far...


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Brad Leithauser
Knopf, 319 pages, $18.95

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