a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Long Chalkboard (2006)
Jenny Allen / Jules Feiffer (Illustrator)
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by "William E. Emba"

Allen's book is a collection of three short-short stories spread out over book length with illustrations on every page, in the usual style of children's literature, complete with charmingly simple morals about what's really important in life. The target audience seems to be aging yuppies. The main attraction is certainly the illustrations by her husband, famed cartoonist Jules Feiffer. Indeed, the book classifies itself as a "Graphic Novel", and I personally discovered this book in a comic book store, next to their Asterix and Tintin books. But because of the extreme brevity of the stories, the three stories read more like HAPPINESS IS A WARM PUPPY with a plot than a genuine graphic novel.

The mathematical content is limited to the first story, "The Long Chalkboard", about an apartment with one spacious room that one tenant fills with a long chalkboard in order to encourage the creativity of her children. That doesn't happen, but the next tenant's teenage son is a mathematical whiz, who puts the chalkboard to glorious use. And as a bonus, Feiffer illustrated the chalkboard with real mathematical formulas instead of the usual silly jumble of letters and digits and plus signs that are typically passed off as mathematical genius at work.

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Works Similar to The Long Chalkboard
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. L' idée fixe du Savant Cosinus by Christophe -- Georges Colomb
  2. The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster
  3. Storm: The Chronicles of Pandarve by Martin Lodewijk (writer) / Don Lawrence (artist)
  4. Folk Music Festivals and Mathematics Conferences by Erik Talvila
  5. Say Wen by Ellis Parker Butler
  6. Euler's Equation by Neil Hudson
  7. A Matter of Geometry by Ared White
  8. The Old Mathematician (from Maschalk Manor) by Anonymous
  9. The Pexagon by D.J. Rozell
  10. Porter Piper by Anonymous
Ratings for The Long Chalkboard:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
1/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
1/5 (1 votes)

MediumShort Stories, Graphic Novel/Comic Book/Manga, Picture Book,

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Exciting News: The total number of works of mathematical fiction listed in this database recently reached a milestone. The 1,500th entry is The Man of Forty Crowns by Voltaire. Thanks to Vijay Fafat for writing the summary of that work (and so many others). I am also grateful to everyone who has contributed to this website. Heck, I'm grateful to everyone who visited the site. Thank you!

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)