Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain

Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain

Book - 2008
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In 1664 Dr. Olaf van Schuler flees the Old World and arrives in New Amsterdam with his lunatic mother, two bags of medical implements, and a carefully guarded book of his own medicines. He is the first in what will become a long line of peculiar physicians. Plagued by madness and guided by an intense desire to cure human affliction, each generation of this unusual family is driven by the science of its day: spontaneous combustion, phrenology, animal magnetism, electrical shock treatment, psychosurgery, genetic research. As they make their way in the world, New York City, too, evolves--from the dark and rough days of the seventeenth century to the towering, frenetic metropolis of today.

Like Patrick S#65533;skind's classic novel Perfume , Kirsten Menger-Anderson's debut is a literary cabinet of curiosities--fascinating and unsettling, rich and utterly singular.
Publisher: Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, [2008], ©2008
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781565125612
1565125614
Branch Call Number: FICTION Men
Characteristics: 290 pages : genealogical table ; 19 cm

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m
maven
Jun 09, 2013

This book has a unique approach to following a family through the generations, with each chapter dedicated to a small piece of one generation. This family of doctors offers plenty of medical quackery, mental health issues, and family drama, but only a snapshot at a time.

Unfortunately, some of the chapters are less interesting than others, especially towards the end, and sometimes the characters felt a bit flat as well. The writing is mostly well-done, but I wanted a bit more, maybe focusing on fewer generations and going in a bit deeper.

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