Author(s): Ethan Canin
Fiction | No Category
The flame of genius scorches every generation it touches. Following a lonely upbringing in the woods of northern Michigan, Milo Andret enrols as a graduate student at U.C. Berkeley, where the faculty is the first to recognize that the young man's childhood solitude has created a prodigiously unusual mind. Yet with Milo's great gifts come great risks, and California in the seventies is rife with temptation. The research he begins at Berkeley will make him a legend; the woman, and the rival he meets, will haunt him forever. For it soon becomes clear that Milo's brilliance is linked to a dark need that ultimately threatens to destroy not only his work and his marriage, but the lives of all his children, as well. A Doubter's Almanac is at once a captivatingly virtuoso illustration of the powers of the mind and a deeply moving exploration of the nature of love, ambition and genius. It is a novel of flawed characters and unreachable dreams, of bonds that tie and passions that destroy; a major work of dazzling and seductive beauty from one of our foremost writers.
An astounding novel, where personal ambition battles against family love, and the most complex intellectual ideas leap from the page with dazzling and seductive beauty
Searing scenes place Canin in a particular East Coast American tradition of meticulously detailed domestic realism that descends through a line of Johns - Cheever, Updike, Irving ... These influences, though, add up to a remarkable achievement of Canin's own. This is big, serious, completely involving fiction of a kind rarely written today ... Canin has achieved a proof of his own high value to American fiction -- Mark Lawson Guardian With stunning assurance and elegant, resonant prose, Canin follows the life of Milo Andret, who is both blessed and afflicted with mathematical genius ... Fascinating in its character portrayal and psychological insights, the novel becomes even more mesmerizing in its second half, which is narrated by Milo's son, Hans ... Canin's accomplishments are many, not least of which is his ability to lucidly explain the field of algebraic topology. But it is his superb storytelling that makes this novel a tremendous literary achievement Publisher's Weekly He renders the world of calculations and equations as charged and hazardous as any shoot-out or car chase. I raced through it with my heart in my mouth **** Sunday Telegraph A masterpiece. Who could have thought maths could be so gripping? Daily Mail Brilliant ... Canin compellingly explores characters grappling not only with mathematical problems but, most movingly, with the complexities of the human heart Guardian 551 pages of bliss. So well written, so well conceived, so true that it's a pure joy to read ... Devastating and wonderful ...Canin's mastery of the mind wrestling with a problem is dazzling ... [Hans] transforms Milo's story from one of tortured genius into a family drama of such dimension that it's hard to read and hard to stop reading ... You come away from the book wanting to reevaluate your choices and your relationships. It's a rare book that can do that, and it's a rare joy to discover such a book. It's not mannered; it's not coy or cute or clever. It's true. Esquire Thoroughly absorbing ... a nuanced, heartbreaking portrait of a tortured mathematician [and] a lucid, riveting explication of algebraic topology ... Canin, in translucent prose, elucidates the way a mathematician sees the world and humanity's own insignificance within it. A harrowing, poignant read about the blessing and curse of genius Booklist Weighty, blazingly intelligent ... An emotionally explosive exploration of success and failure in a family roiled by genius ... It movingly confronts the challenges of outsized ability, overwhelming ambition and "calamitous inheritance" with brio and feeling LA Times A Doubter's Almanac really isn't about mathematics so much as a family of mathematicians wrestling with the curse of their own genius ... [Canin's] well equipped to factor even the most complex expression of intellectual ambition down to its primes ... It's about the paradox of an extraordinary man who repeatedly sabotages himself Washington Post With A Doubter's Almanac,Canin has soared to a new standard of achievement. What a story, and what a cast of characters. The protagonist, Milo Andret, is a mathematical genius and one of the most maddening, compelling, appalling, and unforgettable characters I've encountered in American fiction. This is the story of a family that falls to pieces under the pressure of living with an abundantly gifted tyrant. Ethan Canin writes about mathematics as brilliantly as T. S. Eliot writes about poetry. With this extraordinary novel, Ethan Canin now takes his place on the high wire with the best writers of his time -- Pat Conroy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 'The Prince of Tides' and 'The Great Santini' Canin's seventh novel is that of a masterful writer at his transcendent best -- Top Ten Books to Read in 2016 BBC Culture Canin spins a captivating fictional tale Oprah.com Elegant and devastating ... Clearly, Canin's own gifts as a writer are still vibrant and strong. A Doubter's Almanac is exquisitely crafted ... An odd and completely captivating novel NPR Books A big, generous novel ... Canin never loses sight of redemption's possibility, and the fact that it lies within reach of everyone. It's this idea that keeps you turning pages, and that helps push A Doubter's Almanac far beyond the realm of formula Dallas Morning News Canin has plunged into the topic with passion - and to great success. His articulations of a math-saturated worldview are incisive and transporting ... Convincing, unpleasant, utterly unique USA Today A tragedy that is remarkably readable. With the horror [Canin] makes us feel as we watch Milo's plunge from the heights, he balances a wise compassion for all his characters. But the book is no apologia for bad behaviour, a free pass for genius run amok ... Canin has crafted a believable and indelible portrait of frustrated master intellectual work Newsday Intelligent, effortless fiction at its best Sunday Business Post Brilliant ... a furiously panoptic family saga ... This is fiction at its most ambitious and seductive - for all its length and intellectual complexity, A Doubter's Almanac speeds by with effortless grace ... On every page Canin's humane, precise prose offers marvels ... Fiction as it should be - rich, compassionate, gripping and true -- Kevin Power Sunday Business Post
Ethan Canin is highly regarded as both a novelist and a short story writer. He spent his childhood in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California before attending Stanford University, the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and then Harvard Medical School. He subsequently gave up a career in medicine to write and teach, and is now F. Wendell Miller Professor of English at his alma mater, the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Ethan Canin lives in California and Iowa, with his wife, their three children, and four chickens.