Reviewed by L Wilson Hunt|October23rd, 2015|Chaticleer Book Reviews chantireviews.com/2015/10/23/brain-by-dermot-davis-a-rare-species-of-complete-entertainment/
Dermot Davis' Brain is that rare species of complete entertainment that can be both deeply philosophical and buoyantly accessible. Laughs, suspense, intrigue, love, and a gentle thread of the paranormal are all there for you, gift-wrapped in a sweet mist of serendipity.
Daniel Waterstone has every intention of writing the Great American Novel, and in doing so, he is going to set the ignorant, crazy mass of modern readers straight on what constitutes great literature. But, after two improbable, failed "masterpieces," his publisher, the delightfully savvy Suzanne, has told him that success and recognition will best be served by his authoring a book that some of the"great-unwashed" might actually be interested in reading. Daniel likes the idea but is clueless about how to proceed.
The product of coldly academic and overprotective parents, Daniel entered adulthood as a cynic with a dislike for people, a fear of women, and a conviction that everyone except him was crazy.He had such strong feelings of loneliness that he often thought of himself as an alien trapped on the wrong planet. Although highly-degreed in literature,the rigidly naïve Mr. Waterstone will soon learn that he is obligated to finish one final course: Life 101. And if he is willing to take his lessons, life just might have a little something up its sleeve for him.
Daniel quickly finds a theme for the book that will liberate him from poverty and his sense of failure; he enters a bookstore where a flamboyant and somewhat other-worldly writer of self-help books is preaching his gospel to an enchanted crowd. When Daniel calls him out as an opportunistic fraud, the guru challenges him to engage in a "mind-meld"that will supposedly free Daniel from some of his hang-ups.
Amused and seemingly unaffected,Daniel leaves the store cradling an idea for the book that will please the masses: he will write, under a pseudonym, a satire that exposes the pop-psychology industry for what he thinks it is: a total lie, an insult to crazy people done by crazy people. Ironically, his satire becomes the kind of blockbuster success that brings him riches and fame, but at a cost, as author Dermot Davis is happy to tell us all about in Brain: The Man Who Wrote the Book That Changed the World, his mystical and joyous tale of personal growth and fulfillment in the modern age.
"Crazy," the word, the notion, the concept, is the spine from which flows the energy of Davis' often tongue-in-cheek fairy tale, its relevance grounded in the infinite variability of human experience, and its ability to score a few points for emotion in the seemingly endless skirmish between skepticism and belief. Score more points for the stubborn and ineffective Daniel if he can revise the"me-versus-them" definition of "crazy" that has him strapped to the cheap seats of human experience.
And, could there be a better word than "crazy" to carry the torch of enlightenment into the shadows of our increasingly soul-less and programmed culture? Probably not, at least in Davis' jauntily addictive narrative, an arena in which he holds court with the majesty of an imaginative, accomplished humorist.
I was not surprised to learn that the author is also a playwright, as his marvelously crafted characters and sets quickly acquire the kind of three-dimensional believability that one expects to encounter in a live theatrical performance or, according to my mind's eye, a movie (complete with an endearingly haunting soundtrack and a reincarnated Jack Lemmon in the lead role!).
From the Inside Flap
Daniel is an affable protagonist--a bit self-obsessed, but basically decent. Davis's novel is an entertaining farce about modern society, a deft, fast-paced tale that will leave self-aware readers giggling. This is an entertaining book that will reward readers. *(a starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality)
THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW (highly recommended)
"Brain: The Man Who Wrote the Book That Changed the World" is ironic, iconoclastic, and pure entertainment from first page to last. It is also based upon an all-to-familiar scenario common to almost anyone who has written their version of the 'Great American Novel' only to have it (and them) rejected by an unappreciative publishing community and a culture that values pop culture absurdity over literary erudition. Highly entertaining, "Brain: The Man Who Wrote the Book That Changed the World" is recommended reading -- especially for anyone who has ever set about trying to get something of quality published only to see hackneyed flack work be received enthusiastically by an undiscerning public. Also highly recommended is author Dermot Davis' earlier novel, "Stormy Weather" (9780984418114)."
CHANTICLEER BOOK REVIEWS
"Dermot Davis' Brain is that rare species of complete entertainment that can be both deeply philosophical and buoyantly accessible. Laughs, suspense, intrigue, love, and a gentle thread of the paranormal are all there for you, gift-wrapped in a sweet mist of serendipity. "
KIRKUS BOOK REVIEW
"In Davis' (Zen and Sex, 2013, etc.) satire, a down-on-his-luck novelist accidentally spawns a self-help empire. When Daniel Waterstone wins his college's literary award, he gives a speech bemoaning the decline of Western literature and vowing to defend the classics. Ten years later, in Los Angeles, he's at the wheel of both a car on its last legs and a stalled literary career. When his agent can't sell his latest work, Daniel abandons the nonfunctioning car and debates abandoning his Great American Novel for something that will sell--perhaps vampires? After he encounters a successful self-help author, he decides to try humor: He'll write a satire of self-help books, complete with ridiculous exercises and an exclamation point in the title. But when Daniel sends it out, he fails to mention that it's satire; soon, he finds himself at the center of a self-help empire, complete with fan letters, seminars and the promise of a second book. Can his book actually change the world, or is Daniel in danger of believing his own hype and tripe? Davis' book has some promising satirical moments, as when Daniel tells an adoring crowd the literal truth--"I'm a fraud"--and they take it as symbolic... Will Daniel sell out or not?" - Kirkus Reviews.
SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW
"Probably the best thing about this book is the assortment of wacky characters, including the idealistic but naïve Daniel, the villainous agent and her ex-con younger brother, and the girl who believes in Charles Spectrum even when he tells her it was all a joke gone wild. It's a roller coaster ride for Daniel, but pure fun for the reader--full of odd metaphors, literary allusions, and hilarious coincidences. Sometimes wordy, but still a great book for anyone who enjoys a laugh at all the crazies in the world--including themselves." - Reviewed by Randy-Lynne Wach
"Absolutely excellent. I would encourage all newbie self published authors to read this book for inspirational and entertainment purposes. Very original in concept and quite comical at times. The author has "hit" the nail on the head with regard to publishing! As an author of 35 titles of my own I can definitely relate to this story." - James Coyle
"This is one of the few books that constantly improves from chapter to chapter... We don't need more formula writing, we need books like these!" - Future Boy
"Dermot Davis has his finger on the pulse of human foibles and foolishness. His book, 'Brain', makes a clever showing of the eagerness of the population to believe in something- anything." - Hstreiker
"I read the book cover to cover and got up only once to get coffee; I just could not stop reading. "Brain" is truly hilarious." - Gisela Hausmann
"Brain is... a comment on what sells and what doesn't, and whether artists should aspire to be artists, or simply try to produce a work that they know will sell. It's a satire about a man writing a satire, and it's very, very funny." - Mr. N.S.Marsh
"This book is a wonderful satire on modern publishing, and a clever exploration of degrees of sanity... This book soars with a glorious irreverence." - Wendy
"Brain... reminded me of Bonfire of the Vanities and Tom Sharpe's work. Essentially a comedy and satire, Brain is a modern fable about the power of imagination and marketing with unforeseen consequences." - John Reviews
"Very funny stuff. Alas, it is also serious in the sense that it resonates with much of what is accepted in American popular culture today as reasonable." - O.Barnack