Flowers for Algernon Mass Market Paperback – Mar 1 1984
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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
"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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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.
Charlie Gordon has an unusually low IQ. He works at a bakery mopping up the kitchen, the store and the washrooms. He thinks his co-workers are his friends but they set him up for stupid pranks and then laugh at him. Charlie, however, always maintains an easy-going attitude. He hasn't seen his mother, father, or sister in many years; his parents put him in a home when he was a teenager because they couldn't deal with his lack of progress at school.
Professor Nemur and Dr. Strauss of the Beekman University have met Charlie through his night school teacher and think Charlie is the perfect candidate for an experiment based on their theory that a certain operation on the brain will enable anyone to improve their IQ markedly, even to that of genius. The other half of the experiment is Algernon, a lab mouse, who has the same operation and is able to perform exceptionally at racing through mazes to find the treat at the end.
We follow Charlie's amazing increase in IQ through the journal he keeps as part of the experiment. In the beginning, he writes simple sentences with phonetic spelling, low vocabulary, and almost no punctuation. As the story progresses, he becomes a fluent writer, an able linguist, and, indeed, goes beyond the level of those using him for their experiment.Read more ›
Unique, and unlike any other books I have read before. You may want to pick it up and have a read.
Most recent customer reviews
Very strong prose and idea that is executed masterfully. Please give this a chance and you won't regret itPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I read this book in my thirties. I'm a mother and empath. it was heart wrenching. i strongly recommend this book. loved the small format for carrying with me in my pursePublished 4 months ago by J. Richard
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 9 months 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 11 months ago by Khana