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."
©2013 E. L. Doctorow (P)2013 Random House Audio
"E. L. Doctorow is a national treasure, and I mean this in a very specific sense: He has rewarded us, these 45 years, with a vision of ourselves, as a people, a vision possessed of what I might call ‘aspirational verve’ - he sees us clearly and tenderly, just as we are, but also sees past that - to what we might, at our best, become." (George Saunders)
"[His great topic is] the reach of American possibility, in which plain lives take on the cadences of history.... Doctorow’s prose tends to create its own landscape, and to become a force that works in opposition to the power of social reality." (Don DeLillo)
"A writer of dazzling gifts and boundless imaginative energy." (Joyce Carol Oates, The New Yorker)
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Wow! I love E.L. Doctorow--especially Ragtime, and couldn't wait to listen to Andrew's Brain. I was not disappointed. In less than 4 hours Doctorow told the story of Andrew's life--and made me care about him, brought in American culture and politics, and a discussion of conciousness and the question of how it arises from brain chemistry. And then there is the question of Andrew's existence. The writing is so compelling I finished this in an evening. Highly recommended.
The story started very slowly, but became interesting after the first hour or so. The book is a good exploration of memory and reality - including the natural ambiguity that arises from their interaction. E. L. Doctorow is an excellent author, but is not a very good narrator - his voice is a near monotone and he doesn't seem to be able to express the emotions necessary to bring the book alive. It was frequently difficult to tell the difference between the two speakers in the book given Doctorow's limited skill at narration. This became even more confusing because it was sometimes difficult to distinguish when the main character was talking "in the present" and when he was remembering the past. A professional narrator would have made these distinctions much clearer.
Not very high
Where was Andrew when this took place? Not clear.
monotone (which helped one see Andrew's mental state)
It held my attention because I was looking for something to happen or some explanation of how he got to his current situation (whatever that was--prison?) Did he kill or harm the child drawing at the table on the farm? Who was "coming?" Why was he in Norway or was he?
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