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Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 9, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
In Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain, we are led down a path of medical quakery, or not, depending on the times - in a series of eerie vignettes designed to highlight a cure of the time while tracing a long line of a family of doctors.
In the beginning we are led by candle light to envision the soul found deep inside the brain inspired by mutilations of creatures in view of clandestine medical studies.
We end up in the more modern day of breast implants, but what lies between is pure astonishment. Each story brings to light the medical treatment for hysteria, craziness, lack of energy, personality testing, and many other maladies.
What is also intriguing and wonderful about this work is the atmosphere it portrays in each story. It carries us through history and historical happenings as they pertain to certain illness and complaints.
The author has done an amazing job at tracing this family of doctors through the decades while generating the feeling and mania involving some of the cures and causes of the disease and problems of each story.
This book will definitely make you think. You may also try to come up with other things that have been used throughout time in the name of modern medicine.
I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy, dark little book and recommend it.
We are treated to in-depth studies of animal magnetism, phrenology, electric shock therapy, and lobotomy as we follow each generation of physician who tries to cure the people around them but who are limited by lack of medical knowledge along with questionable decision making processes. The ambition of the van Schuler/Steenwyckes family is always to cure the madness that appears in every generation, starting with Olaf's mother, and hopefully at the same time to relieve the suffering of society.
Written against the backdrop of major historical events such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Attica Uprising, and the Great Depression, the stories focus both on the limitations of medicine but also on how change is pushed forward by personal emotional need. Quirky, sometimes disturbing, and often disjointed, Doctor van Schuler's Brain is still worth reading for the well researched history of the U.S., New York City, and medicine. But most importantly, it's worth reading for what it teaches us about the humanity of the person behind the white coat and stethescope.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have to admit that this is one I purchased solely because the cover intrigued me. While it's a series or short stories, it's held together by progression of the family lineage... Read morePublished on September 5, 2012 by S. J. Peterson
Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain is a tour de force. Not only is each of Kirsten Menger-Anderson's stories a gem in and of itself, but the collection as a timeline of the remarkably... Read morePublished on January 9, 2012 by bzobell
"Doctor Olaf van Schuler, recently arrived in New Amsterdam with his lunatic mother, two bags of medical implement's, and a carefully guarded book of his own medicines, moved into... Read morePublished on September 14, 2010 by ZenWoman
This book has an interesting premise: each chapter is a short story about a doctor, and the stories go from early times to modern. Read morePublished on April 15, 2010 by Mark Colan
"Doctor Olaf van Schuler, recently arrived in New Amsterdam with his lunatic mother, two bags of medical implements, and a carefully guarded book of his own medicines, moved into a... Read morePublished on February 21, 2010 by joyful
A collection of short stories tied together by themes of science, medicine, madness, and the wrong turns we take. Read morePublished on December 28, 2009 by Negative Space
This book is a collection of short stories with the vague link of occurring in separate generations of one family. Read morePublished on July 10, 2009 by Thomas Paul
Kirsten Menger-Anderson's novel combines medical history, family relations, and a changing urban context in New York City from the 17th century to the present. Read morePublished on May 24, 2009 by Jared Braiterman
This beautifully written novel-in-stories follows the lives of twelve generations of New York City physicians who are trying to better the human condition, each in his or her own... Read morePublished on March 29, 2009 by Donna G. Storey