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Andrew's Brain

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Andrew's Brain Cover

ISBN13: 9781400068814
ISBN10: 1400068819
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This brilliant new novel by an American master, the author of Ragtime, The Book of Daniel, Billy Bathgate, and The March, takes us on a radical trip into the mind of a man who, more than once in his life, has been the inadvertent agent of disaster.

Speaking from an unknown place and to an unknown interlocutor, Andrew is thinking, Andrew is talking, Andrew is telling the story of his life, his loves, and the tragedies that have led him to this place and point in time. And as he confesses, peeling back the layers of his strange story, we are led to question what we know about truth and memory, brain and mind, personality and fate, about one another and ourselves. Written with psychological depth and great lyrical precision, this suspenseful and groundbreaking novel delivers a voice for our times — funny, probing, skeptical, mischievous, profound. Andrew’s Brain is a surprising turn and a singular achievement in the canon of a writer whose prose has the power to create its own landscape, and whose great topic, in the words of Don DeLillo, is “the reach of American possibility, in which plain lives take on the cadences of history.”

Review:

"In his newest novel, Doctorow (Homer & Langley) introduces an intriguing protagonist who poses sweeping questions about the composition of consciousness, the reliability of memory, and the existence of free will, and asks them again and again, sometimes philosophically, sometimes with a sense of alarm. The novel is structured as an extended series of conversations between Andrew, a cognitive neuroscientist by training, and an unnamed man who initially appears to be his psychotherapist. The book opens with Andrew's description of leaving his infant daughter with an ex-wife. When the baby's mother dies, Andrew claims to be too incapacitated by grief and self-doubt to care for the child. Paradoxically, Andrew — who refers to himself in both the first and the third person — also insists that he's incapable of emotion. It's not clear how much time has passed since he gave up the child, or how much time is passing as he tells his story, or if time for Andrew is linear at all. He recycles and synthesizes snippets of recollection, sometimes with details supplied by his questioner, and as he does he embellishes his history and reshapes its chronology. Despite their expansive themes and culturally significant imagery, Andrew's revelations are little more than clues to an amusing, if tedious, puzzle. Andrew believes that the brain cannot know itself, but the question is whether the reader can know Andrew's." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

About the Author

E. L. Doctorow’s works of fiction include Homer & Langley, The March, Billy Bathgate, Ragtime, The Book of Daniel, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, The Waterworks, and All the Time in the World. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle awards, two PEN/Faulkner awards, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. In 2009 he was short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize, honoring a writer’s lifetime achievement in fiction, and in 2012 he won the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, given to an author whose “scale of achievement over a sustained career [places] him in the highest rank of American literature.” In 2013 the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him the Gold Medal for Fiction.

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The Lost Entwife, January 3, 2014 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
Andrew's Brain is my first book by E.L. Doctorow and, after putting it down, I'm a bit torn on if I would like to check out his back list. I'm really torn because on one hand I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative style and the unreliable narrator, but on the other hand I never felt as if the story was going somewhere with enough urgency to keep my attention from wandering - and wander it did. Still, I got through the book in a decent amount of time by sheer will, it's such a short read I felt guilty every time I put it down. To its credit, every time I picked it back up I ended up thinking, "ah - oh yes, he does write very well and what will happen next?" I hate it when books make me torn like that.

In Andrew's Brain, Doctorow explores the psyche of a man who has experienced quite a bit of sorrow in his lifetime. In a conversationally interesting dialogue (that reminded me quite a bit of some of Freud's essays), the protagonist speaks to a therapist about a chain of events in his life that seem to grow larger and more unbelievable as time passes. He starts with a simple family dynamic that emerges as the result of an action on his part that causes grief, then moves on in a chain of events that had me shaking my head, wondering what exactly it was I was supposed to believe. Yes, I get it. That's the point of an unreliable narrator. Still, there are moments when the narrative shifts and I think he ends up in some remote place with no explanation as to how he got there, or he quite possibly could still be telling the therapist of his time in that place. Frankly, I don't know.

Doctorow touches on a number of subjects and issues through this character. Family grief, political wars, historic events - nothing is left untouched. It sounds powerful, right? Except the narrator is so detached and strange and, frankly, uses language that is so elaborate it's a bit off-putting which results in something that was a bit too high-brow for me to enjoy completely...and that is why I think I am so torn. I love to be challenged and I thought there was an interesting study of human nature happening in Andrew's Brain, but overall as a story it just left me feeling a bit like I'd been let down.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400068814
Author:
Doctorow, E. L.
Publisher:
Random House
Author:
Doctorow, E. L.
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20140114
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.56 x 5.85 x 0.94 in 0.86 lb

Related Subjects

Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » New Arrivals
Metaphysics » Fiction

Andrew's Brain New Hardcover
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$26.00 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Random House - English 9781400068814 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In his newest novel, Doctorow (Homer & Langley) introduces an intriguing protagonist who poses sweeping questions about the composition of consciousness, the reliability of memory, and the existence of free will, and asks them again and again, sometimes philosophically, sometimes with a sense of alarm. The novel is structured as an extended series of conversations between Andrew, a cognitive neuroscientist by training, and an unnamed man who initially appears to be his psychotherapist. The book opens with Andrew's description of leaving his infant daughter with an ex-wife. When the baby's mother dies, Andrew claims to be too incapacitated by grief and self-doubt to care for the child. Paradoxically, Andrew — who refers to himself in both the first and the third person — also insists that he's incapable of emotion. It's not clear how much time has passed since he gave up the child, or how much time is passing as he tells his story, or if time for Andrew is linear at all. He recycles and synthesizes snippets of recollection, sometimes with details supplied by his questioner, and as he does he embellishes his history and reshapes its chronology. Despite their expansive themes and culturally significant imagery, Andrew's revelations are little more than clues to an amusing, if tedious, puzzle. Andrew believes that the brain cannot know itself, but the question is whether the reader can know Andrew's." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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