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'A Doubter's Almanac' by Ethan Canin: EW review

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A Doubter's Almanac: A Novel

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
Ethan Canin
publisher:
Random House
genre:
Novel

We gave it a B+

A beautiful mind is consumed by its ugliest impulses in Canin’s high-wire study of a brilliant mathematician whose personal life is the chaotic opposite of his clean, elegant proofs. A lonely boy in northern Michigan, Milo Andret is eventually recognized for his savant-like skills and funneled into the LSD-fueled bohemia of ’60s Berkeley and later Princeton, where he becomes a superstar in the insular world of academia. But even as he triumphs, alcohol and arrogance—and the slow creep of mental illness—begin to unravel him. Canin writes gorgeously about abstract concepts, but he makes it less easy to sympathize with the damage a man like Milo can do to the people unlucky enough to love him. B+