04.23.06

Where is Einstein’s brain now?

Posted in Reviews at 8:19 by RjZ

There is down time when you travel. That must be it. And it was relatively rapid reading. Must have been. Oh, and there was a promise of a side story that I was interested in…it was enough to keep me reading even while I shouldn’t. Driving Mr. Albert didn’t drive me to distraction, or even boredom, but I was irritated a bit by the author, Michael Paterniti. I mean the guy writes really well, except this book has nothing to say and can’t decide what it wants to talk about either way.

Essentially, a lost Mr. Paterniti, lonely because his girlfriend is busy writing a book and he’s apparently out of ideas, hooks up with Dr. Thomas Stolz Harvey, the pathologist who is slightly famous because, during the autopsy of Dr. Albert Einstein (That’s Dr., Mr. Paterniti, not Mr. as your title speaks…you’d think he’d notice that.) he removes Einstein’s brain and then, well, takes it home and stores it in a sealed cookie jar and Tupperware. The two drive across America with the brain in the trunk, and Paterniti muses about Einstein, Dr. Harvey, his girlfriend, America, and, well, I don’t know, I couldn’t figure out what the common thread was.

There is some nifty biographical data on Einstein. (There are loads of better books for this.) There’s a nice wacky road-trip motif. (Read Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing… instead.) There’s a strange relationship with Dr. Stolz (Maybe it’s because Paterniti is more scatterbrained than the ethically-challenged octogenarian.) and there’s this hint of a story about finding the right relationship and having it fade away for reasons you can’t understand. Except that story too, the only one I really found all that interesting… (Oh, all right, I’ll admit it: I like romantic comedies, too. There, I’ve said it. Are you happy now?!) Sorry, that story, too, goes nowhere. [Spoiler alert] They work it out in the end. [End spoiler]

Here’s all I think there really is in the book, although it is written really well: There was this guy; he stole Einstein’s brain. He kept it on his mantel. Wow, Einstein’s brain! I mean the significance? Or is there significance? Hmmm. Wow. OK, that’s all you need to know. Yes, it’s crazy that some guy stole Einstein’s brain and kept it for forty years. In the end though, even Einstein’s granddaughter couldn’t see why anyone would care all that much. There, now go read something else instead.

One more thing: In spite of Paterniti’s unwillingness to pass judgment, one thing is sure: the act of stealing the brain was wrong and obviously against the wishes of Einstein himself.

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