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Nonfiction Book About Brain Injuries and Consciousness Wrapped into a Fiction Format
on May 13, 2008
It's hard for me to know who would like this book. It contains a great deal of information about how the brain works, consciousness is created, and the quirks of various mental disorders . . . but someone interested in those subjects would typically read a nonfiction book on the subject instead.
At the same time, those who like novels generally are looking for a story that moves through actions rather faster than the repeated ramblings in the characters' minds on the same subjects. With three narrators, you get to read about three sets of repetitive ramblings.
I must agree that I've never read a book quite like this, and I enjoy learning more about the latest in the neurosciences and how unusual conditions arise. Much of the book, however, reminded me of the paranoid ravings of a schizophrenic I knew once. Realizing the similarity to what a schizophrenic would say and do . . . and what the treatments are, I became skeptical about how accurate this book's fiction is for this particular brain injury.
There's some poetic material tying our common genetic heritages together between the human and animal worlds, but that's clearly secondary to the main messages.
I felt, too, that the book took too long to develop: Seemingly trying to make us suffer along with some of the characters by having to bear up with the problems for a long time.
I certainly agree with those who are impressed by the scope of the book's vision . . . I just don't agree with how well that vision was implemented. There are instances of fine writing in the book, but the overall plan didn't satisfy me as a way to communicate those points.
Unless you feel compelled to read this book because of the disagreements about it, I suggest you skip it.