Andrew's Brain | book review

I'm just surprised by how many positive reviews there are on this book. As I've been skimming over some, I realized that E.L. Doctorow is a known and well liked author, and I am curious to know if that is the reason that people are liking this book. Do they just accept that it's good because they've had previously pleasant experiences with this author?

Well, I went into this book completely blind. I've never heard of the book before, never heard of this author, I just saw this book on a $1 shelf at Dollar General and decided to pick it up. I think that my uneducated entrance into this book has lead me to have a more general and unbiased opinion of the novel itself rather than what is being said by others on the internet.


Title: Andrew's Brain

Author: E.L. Doctorow

Summary: This brilliant new novel by an American master, the author ofRagtime, 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 an 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. (Goodreads)

Spoiler-free Review

This novel is an entire 200 pages of pure ramblings and incoherent nonsense. And I'm not even rounding when I say 200 pages--it's like the author actually stopped at that number on purpose, because this book literally just ends. Actually, I have no idea why the book even started in the first place.

Our main character, Andrew, is a depressed scientists appearing to be speaking to a therapist (but we never really know). Andrew flits through different time periods in his life in a random order that is easily one of the hardest parts to understand in this book. Not only do you have no idea who he's talking to, but you have no idea what he's talking about.

Andrew sometimes speaks of himself in the third person and no quotation marks in this book make it the hardest to follow in all of the books I've read in my entire lifetime. It’s like it's our job to put together the tragic events of his life in a meaningful order, to unscramble the seemingly pointless clues, and to uncover the true meaning of what the heck is going on.

I rated this book on Goodreads really low because I just didn't get it. It starts, end, and I'm just like, "okay, fine by me--soooo what did I just read?" One other reviewer said: "Andrew’s Brain hurt mine. The problem isn’t that the novel requires a significant degree of intellectual effort; it’s that it doesn’t provide sufficient reward for that effort." And I can't agree more with this statement.

If you're interested in reading the ramblings of a self-adsorbed man who lacks maturity, then this book is for you. If you’re looking for a book with plot or direction, then you’re not going to find it here. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone--and this is rather rare for me. Even when I don't like a book, I understand that other people might find it enjoyable, but not this one! You don't really need to waste your time reading it.