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Saturday, January 6, 2024

Gotta Love Those Collections

Walking by any collection of "free" books is difficult for me. Doesn't matter much where I am, who I'm with, how much time I've got; almost without exception, I've got to have a look. To anyone sharing my inability to bypass these collections: What treasure did you most recently uncover in this way?

Andrew's Brain is an intriguing, inventive, thoroughly modern novel. Though unsure how this 2016 gem by E.L. Doctorow escaped my attention, I suppose that's reason enough to be grateful for my compulsive need to peruse these ragtag collections. After all, I've been enthralled with Doctorow since finishing Ragtime upon its 1975 release and this late title in his oeuvre is yet another example of his massive ambition as an author. Over a long career, Doctorow tackled a dizzying array of subjects, always with an eye toward the possibilities of the novel as an art form. In this experiment, he tells the story by using a dialogue involving Andrew - a man beset by unspeakable tragedy - and an unnamed interlocutor who may be Andrew's psychiatrist or his jailer or both. 

Andrew's Brain is an early 21st journey - including 9/11 and the subsequent and futile search for those weapons of mass destruction - meticulously constructed marvel by a modern-day master. Many of my favorite authors have disappointed me at least once; not Doctorow.


  1. Good morning, Pat. I, too, find it irresistible to pass any notice of 'free' books. Adding to that are the times when the local library, or any library for that matte, has its book sales. And while I've never been fortunate enough to find that rare 'first edition', I have been lucky enough to find some excellent collections during these 'hunts'. None are noteworthy enough to mention but some, especially some Shakespeare collections, are quite dear to me.
    Be well,

    1. Bob (#6!); Don't get me started on those library book sales. Yikes! I did however once uncover a Shakespeare treasure myself at a "glamping" free collection. In one large volume, this treasure contains all his plays and sonnets. When I brought that home, I was able to clear a whole shelf of the twenty-plus books on there that each had just one Shakespeare play. Yeah! Unfortunately, that space was soon filled with other books. The battle continues.