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Andrew's Brain: A Novel Hardcover – January 14, 2014
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In his book The joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten describes the difference between a schlemiel and a schlimazel. Both types of people suffer from chronic bad luck of one sort or another. The difference is that while the schlemiel is the type of person that trips while carrying a tray of soup in the cafeteria, the schlimazel is the person it lands on. In E.L. Doctorow's compelling new novel, Andrew's Brain, the protagonist Andrew is the schlemiel whilst all those closest to him end up being schlimazels.
Although not technically a mystery this book is one which can easily be spoiled by too full a description of the narrative. So I will start with some broad brush strokes and leave the rest to be discovered by the reader.
Andrew is talented and smart; he is a cognitive scientist with multiple degrees. His life, if his interior monologue is to be believed, has been dogged by a series of unfortunate events. Those events have left him physically unharmed. The physical harm involved has always struck those closest to him. The story is told mostly through the voice of Andrew's interior monologue and in snippets of conversation with another person, perhaps a psychiatrist or some other person tasked with getting Andrew's story told.
But the lack of physical harm is no indicator that Andrew has not been damaged and it appeared clear to me from the start that Andrew's monologue was really getting to the edges of his role in these events.Read more ›
With reference to spoilers, I have to say that I hesitate to tell much of anything more about the events Andrew narrates to his analyst, other than that he tells the story of how he meets and marries his second wife. Beyond that, it would be unfair to reveal the sequence of events that form the main body of the narrative of this uneven but finally very powerful novel. (I started early thinking it might be a 2 star, as I was exasperated by the triviality of much of Andrew's narrative and the too-clever devices Doctorow was using to mix the chronology and the characters to sustain uncertainty and suspense.Read more ›
I thought to myself "Where does this story go?" and "Why did he have this image in his head for so long?"- so I bought the book [the
Library copy our Lab Puppy, Milo, chewed up before I knew what he was doing [maybe he knew something I didn't !]. -so I reordered this on Amazon.
The story starts out OK- Man's wife dies and he has a small baby left to care for so he goes and 'stands outside and knocks on his
ex-wife's [Martha] door- to help him take care of the baby...
From there- it get's bizzare... and I had difficulty following this guys 'brain'.. [he's on a city street at a stop lite, and suddenly there is a spirit/ ghost [? ]saying to him "come and fix my screen door'- [which happens to be on a farm in the middle of nowhere !!!] ...
I skipped parts as I got really bored with 'Andrews Brain' and who he was...... "a loser in life, but OK as a teacher"
[who has multiple fantasies over a student in his class]...which get's boring and weird also...
Anyway, I found parts of the book interesting like someone was talking to me personally about their inner life-- but the majority of the book was too weird for me- illogical and strange...
I guess Milo our pup was telling me had 'a premonition' this wasn't my kind of book !...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I finished this book almost two weeks ago and struggled for those two weeks wondering what I would write about this novel, how I would rate it and what I actually think about it on... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Kris Sanderson
Not the best thing he ever wrote that Ive read. It suffered a bit from creepy old man writer syndrome where old men authors who miss the good old days where they could pick up... Read morePublished 1 month ago by staceyg685
I think I learned something about Andrew and The Brain but they book is confusing, and only at times engaging.Published 4 months ago by Emily Mm
Excellent book. But then E. L. Doctorow always writes excellent books.Published 5 months ago by Sarah H. Erman
I stopped reading when he turned the book into an anti-Bush political essay. It had nothing to do with the first 60% of the book, which was pretty good. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Bill H.
I’ve read most of his works but this is a stunningly new Doctorow. It’s not that I didn’t like his novel, it’s just that I, like a lot of you, was confused. Read morePublished 7 months ago by mcfin din
A good read but way above my intellectual level. I liked the way he tied it all up at the end.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Shopper
This is my first reading of Doctorow, and I found it entirely uninteresting. It is one of those books that is overwhelmed with too many ideas and becomes unfocused. Read morePublished 8 months ago by ThrashDr