Flowers for Algernon Hardcover – Large Print, Sep 1995
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
PRAISE FOR FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON
"A tale that is convincing, suspenseful and touching."--The New York Times
"An ingeniously touching story . . . Moving . . . Intensely real."--The Baltimore Sun
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Unique, and unlike any other books I have read before. You may want to pick it up and have a read.
I would like to leave this tale with a further thought; Is this, in actuality, a universal story of each of our lives? As children we are uninformed and intellectually immature. As learning adults while attaining new and important knowledge aren't we forced to bid farewell to the less informed people in our lives? And, lastly, as we approach the end of our lives doesn't our consciousness become fogged over as we forget things that used to be so critical to us? Maybe Charlie and each of us is actually synonymous. Also, doesn't this tale, as a whole, represent the futility of life that we all fee? Do we not constantly struggle with balancing the psychological, intellectual, physical and spiritual aspects of ourselves? Do we ever enter a phase where all these aspects are in perfect harmony? I think not.....................
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
A book that makes you take a very different look at the world, people, and how you choose to rule your life. Haunting and inspiring.Published 15 days ago by Victoria Purdy
This is one of the most terrible books ever written. Why is it getting 5 stars? Because, despite the fact that it tried to RIP OUT MY SOUL AND CONSUME IT IN FLAMES OF AGONY AND... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Khana
I first read this book as part of an English class back in high school.
I fell in love with this book and it was one of those books that sticks in your mind long after you are... Read more
Great book. I'm just reading it for the first time as a young adult, and so far think it's brilliant.Published 4 months ago by Steve Hall
The story speaks to me on many different levels, and I found myself emotional as I came to the last few pages. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Lucien Telford
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