Andrew's Brain

By E.L. Doctorow
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400068814, 224pp.)

Publication Date: January 14, 2014

Other Editions of This Title: Compact Disc, Paperback, Paperback

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Description

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.”

Praise for Andrew’s Brain
 
“Too compelling to put down . . . fascinating, sometimes funny, often profound . . . Andrew is a provocatively interesting and even sympathetic character. . . . The novel seamlessly combines Doctorow’s remarkable prowess as a literary stylist with deep psychological storytelling pitting truth against delusion, memory and perception, consciousness and craziness. . . . [Doctorow] takes huge creative risks—the best kind.”USA Today
 
Andrew’s Brain is cunning. . . . [A] sly book . . . This babbling Andrew is a casualty of his times, binding his wounds with thick wrappings of words, ideas, bits of story, whatever his spinning mind can unspool for him. . . . One of the things that makes [Andrew] such a terrific comic creation is that he’s both maddeningly self-delusive and scarily self-aware: He’s a fool, but he’s no innocent. . . . Andrew may not be able to enjoy his brain, but Doctorow, freely choosing to inhabit this character’s whirligig consciousness, can.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“A tantalising tour de force . . . a journey worth taking . . . With exhilarating brio, the book plays off . . . two contrasting takes on mind and brain. . . . [Andrew’s Brain encompasses] an astonishing range of modes: vaudeville humour, tragic romance, philosophical speculation. . . . It fizzes with intellectual energy, verbal pyrotechnics and satiric flair.”The Sunday Times (London)
 
“Dramatic . . . cunning and beautiful . . . strange and oddly fascinating, this book: a musing, a conjecture, a frivolity, a deep interrogatory, a hymn.”San Francisco Chronicle

“Provocative . . . a story aswirl in a whirlpool of neuroscience, human relations, loss, guilt and recent American history . . . Doctorow reveals his mastery in the sheen of a text that is both window and mirror. Reading his work is akin to soaring in a glider. Buoyed by invisible breath, readers encounter stunning vistas stretching to horizons they’ve never imagined.”The Plain Dealer

“Andrew’s ruminations can be funny, and his descriptions gorgeous.”—Associated Press

“[An] evocative, suspenseful novel about the deceptive nature of human consciousness.”More
 
“A quick and acutely intelligent read.”Entertainment Weekly




About the Author

E. L. Doctorow’s works of fiction include Homer & Langley, The March, Billy Bathgate, Ragtime, The Book of Daniel, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, The Waterworks, and All the Time in the World. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle awards, two PEN/Faulkner awards, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. In 2009 he was short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize, honoring a writer’s lifetime achievement in fiction, and in 2012 he won the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, given to an author whose “scale of achievement over a sustained career [places] him in the highest rank of American literature.” In 2013 the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him the Gold Medal for Fiction.




NPR
Saturday, Jan 11, 2014

E.L. Doctorow's new novel goes inside the brain of a neuroscientist trying to outrun his memories of disaster and the daughter he gave up. He tells NPR's Scott Simon that Andrew's Brain was inspired by his own memories, and by a recurring idea of a little girl hiding her colored-pencil drawings from adult eyes. More at NPR.org

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Praise For Andrew's Brain

Praise for Andrew’s Brain
 
“Too compelling to put down . . . fascinating, sometimes funny, often profound . . . Andrew is a provocatively interesting and even sympathetic character. . . . The novel seamlessly combines Doctorow’s remarkable prowess as a literary stylist with deep psychological storytelling pitting truth against delusion, memory and perception, consciousness and craziness. . . . [Doctorow] takes huge creative risks—the best kind.”USA Today
 
Andrew’s Brain is cunning. . . . [A] sly book . . . This babbling Andrew is a casualty of his times, binding his wounds with thick wrappings of words, ideas, bits of story, whatever his spinning mind can unspool for him. . . . One of the things that makes [Andrew] such a terrific comic creation is that he’s both maddeningly self-delusive and scarily self-aware: He’s a fool, but he’s no innocent. . . . Andrew may not be able to enjoy his brain, but Doctorow, freely choosing to inhabit this character’s whirligig consciousness, can.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“A tantalising tour de force . . . a journey worth taking . . . With exhilarating brio, the book plays off . . . two contrasting takes on mind and brain. . . . [Andrew’s Brain encompasses] an astonishing range of modes: vaudeville humour, tragic romance, philosophical speculation. . . . It fizzes with intellectual energy, verbal pyrotechnics and satiric flair.”The Sunday Times (London)
 
“Dramatic . . . cunning and beautiful . . . strange and oddly fascinating, this book: a musing, a conjecture, a frivolity, a deep interrogatory, a hymn.”San Francisco Chronicle

“Provocative . . . a story aswirl in a whirlpool of neuroscience, human relations, loss, guilt and recent American history . . . Doctorow reveals his mastery in the sheen of a text that is both window and mirror. Reading his work is akin to soaring in a glider. Buoyed by invisible breath, readers encounter stunning vistas stretching to horizons they’ve never imagined.”The Plain Dealer
 
“Andrew’s ruminations can be funny, and his descriptions gorgeous.”—Associated Press

“[An] evocative, suspenseful novel about the deceptive nature of human consciousness.”More
 
“A quick and acutely intelligent read.”Entertainment Weekly
 
“Mind-bending . . . a fascinating and perplexing examination of a human being, invented by Doctorow but very real, who has suffered great trauma and desperately needs to believe he is not a monster.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 
“Absorbing . . . In Doctorow’s capable hands, Andrew is revealed to be a unique and sympathetic character—you’re just never sure whether he’s a redeemed lout or criminally insane. . . . Besides the wonderful prose, the book has humor and warmth and entertaining twists of plot.”Houston Chronicle
 
“This is a brief book and, like many of the author’s recent offerings, a seemingly simple pleasure. But Doctorow cannot do anything simply, and he can’t help but write well. His lines in passing are the sort that other writers might work for years to perfect. And his insights, beautifully embedded in an irresistible story, are worthy of the best sort of big book.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“[Doctorow] locates and amplifies the human emotions that lend poignancy to particular moments in individual lives. . . . He illuminates these concepts by taking us inside the mind of a fully formed figure—a man whose pain, fear, desire and suffering we come to know and identify with. The journey from this novel’s unsettling, parabolical beginning to its ambiguous end is frequently disorienting, but it’s worth the trip.”Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“In stunning command of every aspect of this taut, unnerving, riddling tale, virtuoso Doctorow confronts the persistent mysteries of the mind—trauma and memory, denial and culpability—as he brings us back to one deeply scarring time of shock and lies, war and crime. Writing in concert with Twain, Poe, and Kafka, Doctorow distills his mastery of language, droll humor, well-primed imagination, and political outrage into an exquisitely disturbing, morally complex, tragic, yet darkly funny novel of the collective American unconscious and human nature in all its perplexing contrariness. Word will travel quickly about this intense and provocative novel by best-selling literary giant Doctorow.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“Through this dialectic narrative, Doctorow connects to the common theme seen throughout his work: one’s history is often a battle between memory and self-struggle to maintain an image of morality and adequacy. Doctorow deftly captures the complex but beautiful vagaries of life in clean, simple language.”Library Journal (starred review)

Praise for E. L. Doctorow
 
“On every level, [Doctorow’s] work is powerful. . . . His sensitivity to language is perfectly balanced, and complemented by a gigantic vision.”—Jennifer Egan
 
“E. L. Doctorow is a national treasure, and I mean this in a very specific sense: He has rewarded us, these forty-five 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
 
“One of our greatest living writers . . . a virtuosic storyteller with enormous range.”People
 
“Doctorow is a magician. . . . His prose is dazzling.”Vogue

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