The Burning

Thomas Legendre

An econ grad student takes a break from academia and heads to Vegas, where he hooks up with a wily red-headed blackjack dealer. Love begins to burn and, as one thing leads to another, the couple moves to Arizona, where he’s been offered a teaching gig, a chance to pursue his revolutionary economic theories. His intellectual life—a dialogue between consumption and prudence—is metaphor for his relationship with the dealer who’s now his wife. There’s academic rivalry, lust, adultery and impending divorce. What saves this from becoming another soap opera are the portrayals of a decaying relationship with an evolving dissection of the theories of Adam Smith. This extended meditation on fate, luck and obsession suggests that, in both life and thought, happiness equals consumption divided by desire.