A Neurotic in an Exotic Land; The Adventures of Professor Lucas

Here you will find some related writings (generally not as funny as the book) and a little info about the author, as well as an excerpt from the book.
The photo above should have been the book's cover!--and it
should be turned around!

All rights reserved.

Although some of the items I've now posted differ in their mood and style from the book itself, I am posting them here anyway because they date from roughly the time period in which the book was written--and, I believe they share a certain ambience with it. (note added 14 March 2010)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Once again: American Optimism and Slavic Fatalism....

If you would like to read my essay, "American Optimism Meets Slavic Fatalism"---read it as opposed to merely cite it as did (it would seem) a group of economists who have now replicated the earlier mis-citation by an economist.  (I knew they couldn't write; but no one ever told me they also cannot and do not read.....), you can find it at my Academia.edu site.  Look for me under my full name:  Mark J. Lovas

The article is not perfect, and I'm sure the relevant literature is far beyond what I managed to say. Yet, I continue to believe that the basics are there, and that they continue to be relevant as I listen to people playing the game of "essentializing" on the term "Russian"--behaving as if there were some common, timeless, and unchanging essence which the term "Russian " captures--a thesis which is both false, and for which my interlocutors have been unable to produce any sort of evidence.  (I do not count one's personal experience of communism/totalitarianism as proof of anything.  All experience can be misunderstood and itself requires analysis.)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

American Optimism Meets Slavic Fatalism and Mark "Locus" (sic)

Several years ago I published an article titled "American Optimism Meets Slavic Fatalism" in the Journal of Mundane Behavior.  The article has now been incorrectly cited twice.

The first time, the offenders also managed to change my nationality.  I've just discovered a second version of the mis-citation. AT  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1566014111000124

To repeat:  The author of the article "American Optimism Meets Slavic Fatalism" which appeared in the Journal of Mundane Behavior 2.3  is NOT "Mark Locus".  Its author is Mark Lovas.

Nor is its author an expert on the culture, language, or society of Central/Eastern Europe.
He was trained as a Philosopher, and the paper reflects it.  He presents arguments of sort for
thinking that Americans are wrong to label Czechs or Slovaks "pessimistic", without considering
their history and culture.  And, if we do the reverse sort of thinking about Americans, we might
think differently about their so-called "optimism". (Though in 2014 that may have already changed.)

Oddly enough, the most recent citation manages to import the neo-Classical economist's divide between the market and everything else (aka 'interfering factors').  And, so my essay gets re-interpreted in a way I'd never endorse.  If I had know that economists were going to be read the thing.... sigh.

One final point.  I've heard it said many times that economists don't know how to write.  This most recent experience leads me to wonder if they even know how to read.

If you'd like to read the actual article, you will find it at this site:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

už toho dost

What the fuck is this! the Czech Republic is supposed to a country where atheists are supposed to be the majority! Yet there is all this bullshit about the new pope. Sorry, but the school halls are dark because there's no money for electricity, and the state television is paying for a reporter to vist Rome. Something here stinks. Evidently, the powers that be want to distact us from the attack on our living standards.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Wordclay defunct

There used to be a version of my novella available at "Wordclay", but they've gone out of business.

I'd be happy to see my book with its proper cover, in a nice paperback format.  So, if you're a publisher, contact me.  But don't expect me to pay you!

Otherwise, the book is available through Amazon Kindle. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012


The novel is now available on Kindle for $4.99.  If you are in  the UK, France or Germany you can buy the book there for the equivalent in the local currency.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Short Story Excerpt

An excerpt from :  "Bob Billing’s Crisis", scheduled to appear in Short Story, Fall 2013

Bob Billing bounced to the left and to the right as the tram swayed.  He had forgotten his wallet at home and he was riding without a ticket.  Normally, he would take a taxi to school, and the drivers knew him.  But, today, he didn’t want to be late.  The new director would be there and he wanted to make a good impression.

He was uncomfortable.  Too many bodies pressing too close to his own.  Also he imagined that he didn’t fit in, that he looked like a foreigner.  The US Embassy always warned us, he thought, not to stand out in a crowd.

What was he going to do for lunch?  Maybe he could borrow some money from Ferdo.  Ferdo was a nice guy even if he wasn’t American.

The thought of going without lunch made him nervous.  Some students brought lunch from home in plastic containers.  Exotic stuff but it smelled good.  He was starting to get hungry just thinking about it.

The bottles of olive oil in his briefcase clinked and clicked together.  He wanted to reach down and adjust them, but he couldn’t.  He needed to keep one hand holding on; otherwise, he’d just fall over.

He couldn’t even see where he was.  The windows of the tram were steamed up.  But there, up ahead, in the front of the tram, was another teacher.  One of the locals.  She was pretty and he always tried to talk with her.  Okay, he could get off when she did.  She didn’t seem to notice him.  But he could walk up the hill to the school with her.

The tram skidded to a halt.  The rain or ice or half-snow made things tricky.  Bob almost fell getting out of the tram, and the pretty girl saw it.  She laughed.  He laughed too.

He thought about lunch.  No, he’d better not borrow money from her. “I forgot my wallet at home and I didn’t even have a ticket!”
“Oh,” she said, “You are lucky there wasn’t a revizor!”. And she laughed as she said that.  Bob feared the police and the ticket-checkers too.  He couldn’t get it out of his head that this was a communist country.  And even if it wasn’t communist any more, everyone said it was corrupt.

He almost slipped on one of the steps, and she laughed again.  “Careful!  Your students would be very disappointed if you didn’t come today.  After all, they’ve come in this bad weather when they would have rather stayed at home.”

He managed to regain his balance and continue.
Now they were at the top of the stairs and he could relax.

Who would loan him money for lunch?  This problem still bothered him.  There was no guarantee that Ferdo even came to school today.  He might have stayed home.

In the hall, he passed several students who had bought pastries at the “Bufet”.  He could smell poppy seeds.  He did have breakfast, but maybe it wasn’t enough to last him until lunch.  Three younger students walked toward him, each holding a pastry, “Mnyummmm, Mnyummmm”, one said provocatively, smiling at Bob.  “I must look hungry!”

In his classroom, Bob took off his coat, and put his briefcase on the teacher’s desk.  He wondered.   Maybe he’d left some cookies in the drawer.  No, just an old rohlik.  And it was hard enough to break a tooth.  He arranged his olive oil bottles on the shelf near the window.

How could he get through the day without food?

He went downstairs to the teacher’s room. Maybe if he looked at the headlines it would take his mind off his stomach.

In the teacher’s room there was a plate of home-made cookies arranged in a circle.   Someone had written “Take one!”.  He didn’t hesitate.

As he sat down at the computer, Jana came into the room. She was checking her mailbox, when there was a commotion out in the hall.  She went into the hall and spoke very sternly.  He wondered what it was all about.

He tried to concentrate on the newspaper, but he was still worried about lunch.  Jana sat down at the computer next to his.  “Bob, did you leave your lunch tickets in your wallet?”

It was as if she were reading his mind!   “Yes”.

“Look, my boyfriend is taking me to lunch.  You can have mine.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to do that.  I’ll pay you for it tomorrow.”

“Don’t worry.  You can pay me whenever you want.”

She handed him the ticket.

Normally, he did have a snack at ten and then again at two; so, he was one-third of the way there.  His problem was only part way solved.

He smiled and thanked her...............