Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Andrew's Brain by E. L. Doctorow

Title: Andrew's Brain
Author: E. L. Doctorow
Themes: memory, relative reality, stream of consciousness, love, responsibility, sanity
Rating: ***

Plot: From "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."

My Thoughts: Doctorow gives us a bit of a puzzling tale in Andrew's Brain. This is essentially a monologue between Andrew (who sometimes refers to himself in third person) and what the reader eventually assumes is a mandated therapist. How and why Andrew ended up in this conversation is never explicitly fact very little is explicitly stated, or linearly stated. This is a rambling story from a troubled man who provides his stream of consciousness. Andrew "The Pretender" seems to bring disaster with him, which provides some interesting anecdotes but leaves the reader wondering what the novel was all about come the concluding paragraph.

Similar Reads: White Noise by Don Delillo, Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Doctorow, E. L. Andrew's Brain. New York: Random House, 2014.

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