The Man Without a Shadow: A Novel
It’s 1965 and neuroscience is still a developing field. For researchers at the university “memory” lab, E. H. is an unending goldmine of knowledge, one that the professors tap into for decades. E. H. is a kindhearted, sympathetic amateur artist who can blow anyone off the tennis court. Why has this man held the attention of researchers so long? His memory only lasts seventy seconds after his brain was devastated by a sudden illness. As long as researchers work with E. H., he recovers nothing of his short-term memory even as they discover more and more about him. And not just about his condition, but their research—especially the probing Margot Sharpe—begins to unravel a dark secret in E. H.’s past. For Margot, the only thing that surpasses the allure of potential knowledge that E. H.’s condition represents is the allure of E. H. himself.
I was very eager to get my hands on this book, but the writing style derailed my enthusiasm and the story itself was slow and not all that engaging. The writing was extremely repetitive and although I got the impression that it was meant to subconsciously enforce E. H.’s condition, it made for a very long read. I struggled to relate to either of the main characters: this seems reasonable in regards to E. H., but Margot is not an accessible character in the least. She is emotionless and analytical to a fault. The relationship that develops between the two is understandably one-sided and frankly had me questioning the ethics of the forbidden doctor/patient relationship.
Joyce Carol Oates
January 19th 2016