I am a E.L. Doctorow fan. I was anxious to read Andrew’s Brain: A Novel, his latest book. From the first to the last page, the story was a multitude of confusion, confusion as in one individual’s brain and mindset.
The brain is a mysterious organ, one that dictates our body’s responses, perceptions, thoughts, emotions, actions, etc. This is brought to the forefront within the pages of Doctorow’s book, which is really a study on the mechanics of the brain, and in particular, a man named Andrew.
Andrew spills his thoughts, both real and imagined, created and remembered, to a psychiatrist. The reader is exposed to all of his ramblings and rantings, that run rampant throughout the pages. His past traumas are depicted, along with his views on relationships, memory, responsibility, and love and loss, as they flood the pages, a raging river of neurons and synapses. His manipulations are strongly illuminated, and maintained in order to deny responsibility and in order to infuse the mind of others.
The reader is taken on a roller coaster ride, one that delivers and in depth look at the ups and downs of a disturbed mind. I am not a scientist-cognitive or otherwise, am not a doctor, but have had experience with others who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress and how it can invade the thinking of an otherwise normal individual. I have (past tense) been involved with someone who has a mental disorder. I know how that disorder basically rendered them incapable of emotion, responsibility and incapable of leading a “normal” life.
Andrew’s Brain is a difficult read, and not overly easy to follow. I had to retrace a few pages to make certain I was digesting the concept correctly. Aside from that, in my opinion, E.L. Doctorow is masterful with his writing and word images. His exploration and insight is astute, all-encompassing, and brilliant. He delivers, full scale, on the thought processes of the fractured and diseased mind. For that reason, I recommend Andrew’s Brain.
I have purposely left out the characters and the plot line, as it would basically spoil the story.