by Jason Tougaw

A couple of quick announcements: There’s a giveaway in effect for The One You Get. If you enter, you have a chance to win a free copy. Everybody’s favorite online behemoth bookseller is also offering a discount.

Also, this really nice review of The Elusive Brain is just out, in Choice magazine:

The elusive brain : literary experiments in the age of neuroscience

Tougaw, Jason. Yale, 2018

Tougaw (Queens College) ably surveys an array of contemporary literary forms that in one way or another emphasize the brain, among them “brain memoirs,” “neuronovels,” and “neurocomics.” In each chapter, he focuses closely on key passages from a small number of representative works in each form: e.g., Temple Grandin’s memoir of autism; Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, a first-person novel narrated by Lionel Essrog, who suffers verbal outbursts and bodily tics brought on by Tourette’s; and Ellen Forney’s graphic memoir Marbles, which illustrates her attempts to cope with her diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Collectively, such works—and Tougaw, for that matter—make a case for “neurodiversity”: i.e., what some consider a crippling condition can at times be used to great advantage (e.g., Essrog, a detective, is able to glean clues and interview more capably because of his condition). Fundamental antecedents discussed in Tougaw’s volume include the works of Oliver Sacks, whose psychiatric profiles provided starting points for efforts by Lethem and others. Tougaw knows his literary history, and he is expert at citing lineage (e.g., Cervantes, Sterne, Poe, and James for the neuronovel). This is a brilliant, readable work of scholarship.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.

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