In 1664 Dr. Olaf van Schuler flees the Old World and arrives in New Amsterdam with his lunatic mother, two bags of medical implements, and a carefully guarded book of his own medicines. He is the first in what will become a long line of peculiar physicians. Plagued by madness and guided by an intense desire to cure human affliction, each generation of this unusual family is driven by the science of its day: spontaneous combustion, phrenology, animal magnetism, electrical shock treatment, psychosurgery, genetic research. As they make their way in the world, New York City, too, evolves—from the dark and rough days of the seventeenth century to the towering, frenetic metropolis of today.
Like Patrick Süskind's classic novel Perfume, Kirsten Menger-Anderson's debut is a literary cabinet of curiosities—fascinating and unsettling, rich and utterly singular.
"If I had a talent for fiction, Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain is the book I'd dream of writing. Kirsten Menger Anderson's writing floors me. To read her luminous prose applied to the grotesqueries of the characters is an unforgettable literary experience." --Mary Roach, author of Bonk, Stiff and Spooked
"Strange and wonderful, Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain introduces us to the tremendously gifted Kirsten Menger-Anderson."—Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara"Spellbinding....This book is like nothing you've read before."—Dr. Roald Hoffmann, Nobel laureate in chemistry and poet/playwright"A true pleasure to read....Seamless."—Daphne Kalotay, author of Calamity and Other Stories