In this taut and fascinating novel, the bestselling, New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of The Sacrifice, The Accursed, and Lovely, Dark, Deep examines the mysteries of memory, personality, and identity and pierces the enigmatic force that drives human lives—love.
In 1965, neuroscientist Margot Sharpe meets the attractive, charismatic Elihu Hoopes—the “man without a shadow”—whose devastated memory, unable to store new experiences or to retrieve the old, will make him the most famous and most studied amnesiac in history. Over the course of the next thirty years, Margot herself becomes famous for her experiments with E. H.—and inadvertently falls in love with him, despite the ethical ambiguity of their affair, and though he remains forever elusive and mysterious to her, haunted by mysteries of the past.
The Man Without a Shadow tracks the intimate, illicit relationship between Margot and Eli, as scientist and subject embark upon an exploration of the labyrinthine mysteries of the human brain. Where does “memory” reside? Where is “love”? Is it possible to love an individual who cannot love you, who cannot “remember” you from one meeting to the next?
Made vivid by her exceptional eye for detail and her keen insight into the human psyche, The Man Without A Shadow is a unique story of forbidden love, a kind of secret, evolving marriage, depicted in Joyce Carol Oates’s tight, impassioned prose. It is an uncanny, ambitious, and structurally complex novel that penetrates the mind and illuminates the heart.
A bizarre medical condition anterograde amnesia is the linchpin holding together Oates's latest novel, a profound and moving meditation on how memory shapes our personalities and, by extension, the emotions that we provoke in others. When neuroscientist Margot Sharpe first meets Elihu Hoopes in 1965 at a neuropsychology lab in Darven Park, Penn., he is a 37-year-old man whose brain has been devastated irreversibly by encephalitis. Although Eli (as everyone calls him) can remember incidents before his illness with great thoroughness, his short-term memories last no longer than 70 seconds. Over the next three decades of scientific study, Margot learns remarkable things about the neurological foundation of memory from Eli, who in his mind is eternally 37 years old. She also falls in love with him or, at least, the man she thinks he is. Occasionally, Eli is prone to unpredictably violent outbursts that shock Margot, and in a typically edgy fashion, Oates suggests that, in addition to the memories that he can't retain, Eli has memories that he won't reveal. With her usual skill and panache, Oates writes as though she has known her characters all their lives.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This book was quite an insight to someone suffering from amnesia. The side story of the Doctor falling in love with her patient was endearing.