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Flowers for Algernon Mass Market Paperback – Mar 1 1984


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reissue edition (March 1 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553274503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553274509
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 1.6 x 18.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (318 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #845,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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Daniel Keyes wrote little SF but is highly regarded for one classic, Flowers for Algernon. As a 1959 novella it won a Hugo Award; the 1966 novel-length expansion won a Nebula. The Oscar-winning movie adaptation Charly (1968) also spawned a 1980 Broadway musical.

Following his doctor's instructions, engaging simpleton Charlie Gordon tells his own story in semi-literate "progris riports." He dimly wants to better himself, but with an IQ of 68 can't even beat the laboratory mouse Algernon at maze-solving:

I dint feel bad because I watched Algernon and I lernd how to finish the amaze even if it takes me along time.

I dint know mice were so smart.

Algernon is extra-clever thanks to an experimental brain operation so far tried only on animals. Charlie eagerly volunteers as the first human subject. After frustrating delays and agonies of concentration, the effects begin to show and the reports steadily improve: "Punctuation, is? fun!" But getting smarter brings cruel shocks, as Charlie realizes that his merry "friends" at the bakery where he sweeps the floor have all along been laughing at him, never with him. The IQ rise continues, taking him steadily past the human average to genius level and beyond, until he's as intellectually alone as the old, foolish Charlie ever was--and now painfully aware of it. Then, ominously, the smart mouse Algernon begins to deteriorate...

Flowers for Algernon is a timeless tear-jerker with a terrific emotional impact. --David Langford

Review

"A tale that is convincing, suspectful and  touching..." -- The New York  Times.

"Fascinating, agonizing... Superb."  --Birmingham News.

"This novel should be on your 'must read'  list." -- Palm Beach Post-Times.  

"Strikingly original..." --  Publishers'  Weekly.

"Absorbing... Immensely original... Going to be read  for a long time to come." -- Library  Journal.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 15 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There are those who have attempted the topic before, to show the good or ill about artificially increasing a man's intelligence, and they have all fallen by the wayside, forgotten entries in the arena of literature, all because they forgot one factor: love.

In Flowers for Algernon, Keyes shows us a man who is jolted out of his comfortable world of stupidity and finds his friends who were not as good as he thought they were, that all he thought was nothing more than a veiled illusion. And he copes, as everyone must, he copes and finds love and comes to term with himself.

Just in time for him to realize that his intelligence is only temporary. In the most heart wrenching scenes of the novel, the reader must witness his intelligence fading rapidly, each journal entry a little less exact, the spelling a tiny bit worse, until the book comes full circle and he is back where he started from, only having a wisdom that he cannot understand, or comprehend.
Touching, moving, Flowers for Algernon is all that and more, it is an epic of emotion, an opera of getting what you want most and then realizing that you might have been better off.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B L Miller on Aug. 17 2006
Format: Paperback
This award-winning novel by Daniel Keyes is nearly perfect in its execution, with perhaps the minor quibble of some dated slang that's a slight detraction. But that alone is not enough to prevent the book from receiving a well-deserved five stars. Keyes doesn't hit a false note in his story of the rise and fall of Charlie, a mentally retarded custodian at a bakery who briefly becomes a towering genius thanks to an experimental brain operation, only to loose it all as the effects turn out to be temporary. Worse, Charlie's deterioration is beyond even his advanced abilities to stop or reverse it; he has to bear the slow terror of sliding back down to his previous diminished mental capacity, with the hint that he- like Algernon, the lab mouse of the book title that was first to benefit from the operation- might die too. Although considered by some to be a "just" a sentimental story with a tearjerk ending, Charlie is a fully realized character from start to finish, one whose plight keeps you turning the pages, which is why this novel rates so highly. If you're a new fan of science fiction, or just want to sample what the genre has to offer, Flowers for Algernon should be high on your "must read" list. A newer novel with a similar theme is An Audience for Einstein, another book with an emotionally charged, touching ending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By FreeToRhyme on Sept. 26 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was touching and meaningful. If you are a fan of faster paced books, this novel may not be for you. Flowers For Algernon moves relatively slowly, and readers grow attached to the main characters. Within the novel lies different messages concerning morals and everyday struggles.
Unique, and unlike any other books I have read before. You may want to pick it up and have a read.
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I first read this as a short story in high school as a required reading material. I decided to read the novel version this year. I always had a soft spot for Charlie Gordon in my heart because of how he is - not because I pity him, but because he needs so much more understanding from the people around him but all they do is make fun of him--and he doesn't even know it.

Reading the Progress Reports made it seem like he was writing to me, like Anne Frank and her Diary. I actually cried a little when it ended. It made me want to meet him and hug him (but of course, that's not possible as this is fiction).

Reading the book made me realize a lot of other things and reminded me of what I used to do when I was younger (like how to remember your dreams right after waking up before it all slips away)

I really recommend reading Flowers for Algernon because of how the story progresses and just how the minute details in spelling and all catch you off guard and make you feel like you're actually in that world.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is absolutely one of the best books I have ever read (twice). I first had to read it sometime in high school or junior high for English class and it is the first time I remember staying up almost all night to finish a book (literally "couldn't put it down" as they always say), and the first time I remember crying after reading a book (still doesn't happen often - see Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' for an exception!). I dared to pick it up again a couple years ago (while studying neuroscience no less) and found my childhood praise vindicated.

Briefly (others have summarized it well), the story follows Charlie Gordon, a mentally handicapped ('retarded' in the parlance of the time) man in his thirties, who becomes the subject of a radical neurological procedure which raises his IQ to normal levels - and then far, far beyond. A mouse (the eponymous 'Algernon') undergoes the same procedure simultaneously and the experimenters keep tabs on both of them.

The genius of the book is that it is told in first-person 'logs' that Charlie is made to keep by the experimenters. Thus, in a way we know only what Gordon knows (as per the first-person medium), but at the same time we know so much more (or less), and here the book succeeds very well on an intellectual and emotional level. Throughout the first part, we witness Charlie being taunted and abused and not even knowing it, and it's heart-wrenching.
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