A Doubter's Almanac
After a lonely childhood in the woods of northern Michigan in the 1950s, it is not until Milo Andret goes to U.C. Berkeley as a graduate student that his professors realise what a prodigiously gifted and unusual mind he has. Yet with these gifts come risks, and California in the seventies is rife with temptation, opening Milo's eyes to the allure of both ambition and indulgence. The research he begins there will make him a legend; the woman and the rival he meets there will haunt him forever. It soon becomes clear that Milo's brilliance is inextricably linked to a dark side, and it is this duality that ultimately threatens to unravel his work, his family, and his life. It is a duality that his son, Hans, inherits and one which he must conquer if he is to avoid the fate of his father. 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 frustrated dreams; of the bonds that tie and the passions that destroy.
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
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 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 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'
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.