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Intuition Paperback – March 13, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385336101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385336109
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In another quiet but powerful novel from Goodman (Kaaterskill Falls), a struggling cancer lab at Boston's Philpott Institute becomes the stage for its researchers' personalities and passions, and for the slippery definitions of freedom and responsibility in grant-driven American science. When the once-discredited R-7 virus, the project of playboy postdoc Cliff, seems to reduce cancerous tumors in mice, lab director Sandy Glass insists on publishing the preliminary results immediately, against the advice of his more cautious codirector, Marion Mendelssohn. The research team sees a glorious future ahead, but Robin, Cliff's resentful ex-girlfriend and co-researcher, suspects that the findings are too good to be true and attempts to prove Cliff's results are in error. The resulting inquiry spins out of control. With subtle but uncanny effectiveness, Goodman illuminates the inner lives of each character, depicting events from one point of view until another section suddenly throws that perspective into doubt. The result is an episodically paced but extremely engaging novel that reflects the stops and starts of the scientific process, as well as its dependence on the complicated individuals who do the work. In the meantime, she draws tender but unflinching portraits of the characters' personal lives for a truly humanist novel from the supposedly antiseptic halls of science. (Feb. 28)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

This intimate portrait of life in a research institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, revolves around a scientific mystery: the groundbreaking, too-good-to-be-true discovery of a virus that fights cancer. Cliff, the rakish, headstrong post-doc responsible for the discovery, is on the verge of dismissal when his tumor-ridden mice exhibit stunning rates of remission; meanwhile, Cliff's co-worker and former girlfriend, spurred by personal and professional jealousy, begins to harbor suspicions about his lab work. The somewhat transparent plot is made compelling by the aesthetic delicacy of Goodman's writing—furless lab mice are "like quivering pink agar"—and by the care with which she sketches the social world of the lab. The omniscient narrative nimbly shifts perspective among a small number of complex characters, to produce a Rashomon-like inquiry into truth and motive.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I was born in Brooklyn in 1967, but grew up in Honolulu where I got to run around barefoot. I lived in Hawaii until I flew back east for college. I attended Harvard, where I stepped in my first slush puddle. Now I have waterproof boots because I live in Cambridge, Mass, with my family. Don't get me started on the winters here, and the snow days! When I'm not writing, I spend most of my time driving my four kids around, reading, thinking about getting some exercise (I like to swim), wondering what we should have for dinner, and occasionally indulging in some therapeutic vacuuming. Oh, and I keep a blog of my thoughts on the writing process, the books I'm reading and the literary life. You can find me at or join me on Facebook.

Customer Reviews

I guess it is because I didn't particularly like any of the characters very much.
Allegra Goodman weaves a stunning tale of a research laboratory wrought with intrigue and a fascinating cast of characters.
Bonnie Brody
The story ends up being anti-climactic, with the cheaters getting no just desserts, and there is no revelation as to why.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Amy Tiemann VINE VOICE on March 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Intuition" is science as observed by Jane Austen rather than Michael Crichton. I was mesmerized from page one and cried when I reached the gentle revelation of the last scene. Science has long deserved a literary treatment by a great novelist and Allegra Goodman delivers with her carefully-examined microcosm.

The novel is a character study rather than a whodunit, or more precisely, whodonewhat. The central plot of alleged fraud in the lab provides the dissecting knife to tease apart the complicated relationships among the lab mentors and serfs--postdoctoral researchers and technicians. Goodman absolutely nails the depiction of the claustrophobic, almost cloistered ambience and power structures of a high-powered research institute. She treats all of her characters with fairness and honesty, which is the key to the novel's success. I myself was a neuroscience graduate student at Stanford. Reading "Inutition" brought back those days, adding the gifts of compassion and universal perspective to my hindsight view of many challenging years of study.

"Intuition" is an old-fashioned novel, and I am interested to know if that is why Allegra Goodman chose to set the story in the late 1980's (1987 is my best guess). This was a technologically simpler era of cell biology, the moment just before molecular biology and gene cloning took off. The particular science performed in "Intuition" is secondary. There are no whiz-bang scenes of technological madness. That's the brilliance of the novel: distilling scientific ambition, reward, disappointment and betrayal down to its human essence. "Intuition" is the rare book that will be enjoyed by lab geeks and English lit majors alike.
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89 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Steve Koss VINE VOICE on March 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A young scientist, searching for a virus-based cancer cure in an independent, Cambridge area research institute is being pressured to abandon his so far unfruitful work. Suddenly, sixty percent of his tumor-ridden experimental mice begin showing signs of remission from a modified virus labeled R-7. Has he discovered a cancer cure, or has he doctored his data in order to garner the professional and monetary glories of great scientific discovery?

Allegra Goodman's latest novel, INTUITION, begins as a seemingly earnest examination of life in the world of modern scientific research. She populates her novel with a full panoply of scientific archetypes: the glad-handing, self-promoting head of the institute (Sandy Glass), his more introverted and self-doubting partner Marion Mendelssohn, their respective intellectual but self-sacrificing spouses and overachieving superchildren, and a striving, United Nations collection of young researchers, assistants, and lab techs: Cliff, Robin, Natalya, Prithwish, Feng, Nanette, Akira, and later Mir and Miki. Cliff's sudden breakthrough with R-7 rocks the institute and diverts the lab's full resources and attention to further investigation. All other projects are put on hold, much to the dislike of the eager-to-achieve Robin who also happens to have a somewhat on-again, off-again relationship with Cliff. Plans are made for public announcement, research papers, new NIH research grants until Robin begins having trouble replicating Cliff's results.

For the first half to two-thirds of the book, Ms. Goodman gives us a behind-the-scenes look at an all-too-human group of scientists.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on March 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In a world of few certainties, should we let intuition be our guide? Equally, how much faith should we place in the hands of others, even those we think we know the best? These are the intriguing questions driving Allegra Goodman's thought-provoking new novel exploring the human side of the high-stakes world of experimental research. Exchanging the close-knit Jewish community of her National Book Award-nominated KAATERSKILL FALLS for the collegially cutthroat scientific community, Goodman shifts her focus from religious and spiritual issues to exploring faith of a different kind --- faith in others, faith in ourselves, and most of all, faith in moral certitude.

Just as the protagonist in Goodman's previous novel PARADISE PARK was obsessed by a quest for spiritual truth, INTUITION's single-minded cancer researcher Robin Drecker becomes obsessed with seeking truth of the scientific and moral kind at the prestigious Philpott Institute where she works alongside her self-assured boyfriend Cliff. Hungry for grant money --- and therefore in desperate need of results --- their small Cambridge research lab is quick to jump on the groundbreaking new findings demonstrated by Cliff's experiments with a promising viral strain that seems to bring about remission in cancerous tumors.

Lab co-director Sandy Glass, a brash oncologist and "evangelist of the most remarkable sort," insists on plunging ahead to herald the discovery with great public fanfare while his more circumspect partner, the rigorous and no-nonsense scientist Marion Mendelssohn, advocates a more cautious approach pending further experimentation. But Glass's contagious enthusiasm and relentless persistence eventually wins out, and the scientific world is set ablaze with news of the stunning breakthrough.
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