Thursday, October 30, 2008

Time Out Chicago Gives Olaf Four Stars!

Robert Duffer reviews Doctor Olaf for this week's Time Out Chicago. From the review:

[An] epic romp. . . . The scope of Menger-Anderson’s debut combined with her intellectual curiosity when it comes to archaic medical procedures is dizzying. Yet her prose is equally rich. . . . It’s daunting to conceptualize how the hell she pulls it all off.

To read the entire review, see Book review: Doctor Olaf van Schuler’s Brain.

Dr. O in the New York Press

Jeffrey Cretan reviews Doctor Olaf in this week's edition of the New York Press. From the review:

There are some wonderful characters in these pages. . . . Menger-Anderson’s characters are well developed, and her attention to detail—down to the tools used by the generations of doctors—is thorough. She incorporates historical events into the story, everything from the Conspiracy of 1741 to the Attica Prison riots. These events, like the descriptions of a tavern in 1700, create a connection between the reader and New York City itself. The events may be dark spots in the city’s history—just as the quackery practiced by the doctors doesn’t represent science’s brightest moments—yet Metzger-Anderson presents each of them, as well as the parade of New Yorkers through time, in all of their ambition and pain.

To read the entire review: BRAIN READING: We diagnose a century-spanning medical manuscript

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Doctor Olaf in the Sun Sentinel

Chancey Mabe reviewed Doctor Olaf for the Sun Sentinel, calling it a "Quirky, vivid first story collection follows line of New York physicians through generations." Here's an excerpt from the 10/26 review:
A bold first collection chronicling a family of eccentric physicians. . . Menger-Anderson has made an impressive debut.

To read the entire review: Writer's style fits 'Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain'

Good Times and Doctor Olaf

Good Times, a paper out of my old home town Santa Cruz, ran a very nice review of Doctor O by Leslie Patrick:
"Dr. Olaf Van Schuler’s Brain" by Kirsten Menger-Anderson is a sensational first novel that masterfully intertwines stories of medical fantasia with the intriguing history of New York City. Spanning 342 years and 13 generations of New York medical men (and eventually women once the mid 19th century hit), "Dr. Olaf Van Schuler’s Brain" is a fascinating take on the usual breed of historical fiction. . . Menger-Anderson is in possession of a great literary skill.

To read the rest of the review: Kirsten Menger-Anderson's debut novel puts the mad back in science

Friday, October 24, 2008

Olaf in Washington Post!

Today's Washington Post has a review of Dr. Olaf! Here's an excerpt from Carolyn See's review:

Mental Health, With Strings Attached

This little book isn't for everyone, but I sure loved it. [hurray!!! -kma] If, like me, you've thought from time to time that under our controlled demeanors, our learning and good manners, we're all about one millimeter away from being stark, staring mad, and that the doctors who set up to treat us are probably just as crazy as the rest of us, if not more so, you'll sigh and smile when you read this.

To read the full review, see the Washington Post website.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rocking with Olaf

If you're looking for just the right song to play while you're reading Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain, fear not. I've put together a song list that appears on Largehearted Boy, a "music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture." Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bad for the Brain?

Most people would agree that lobotomy is not a healthy brain activity. However, only recently did evidence emerge that other activities--sporting activities often considered healthy--could have an adverse effect on our grey matter.

A recent article in the New York Times warns potential Everest climbers to think again about the ascent, citing an Italian study published in the European Journal of Neurology that shows that "high-altitude climbing causes a subtle loss of brain cells and motor function."

The study compared the brains of seasoned climbers (who had at least 10 years of experience) to those of healthy, lower-elevation lovers of the same age and gender.

According to the article:

On scans, the climbers showed a reduction in both white and gray matter in various parts of the brain. Overall, the researchers found that the cognitive abilities that were most likely to be affected were the climbers’ executive function and memory.

Six of the nine climbers had lower than average scores on the Digit Symbol test, which measures executive functions. Three out of nine scored lower than average on memory tests, while four scored below average on a visual-motor function test. The study authors noted that the results "are most likely to be due to progressive, subtle brain insults caused by repeated high-altitude exposure."

I need all the white and gray matter I can get, so no climbing for me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Olaf on 1st Books

My blog post about Doctor Olaf and his determined march to publication is up at Meg Waite Clayton's 1st BOOKS: STORIES OF HOW WRITERS GET STARTED. Post a comment on the 1st Books site for a chance to win a signed copy of Dr. O!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Olaf spotted at Powell's Bookstore

A friend wrote to say that she'd spotted Doctor Olaf among the debut titles at Powell's bookstore, and my mom followed up with her camera. Here's the first documented appearance of Olaf on the shelves!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The CIA and... Dr. Olaf!

Inspired by Kazuki Hirano, who recently accused the American military of developing remote mental telepathy to combat terrorism, I decided to look into the mind control/mesmerism matter further. Lo and behold, Discover magazine reports that in the 1950s, the CIA indeed tested a number of mind-control techniques, including electroshock (which also appears in Dr. Olaf!) as part of a covert project called MKULTRA. MKULTRA--an acronym that was not expanded for reasons that I looked into and will note shortly--attempted to control the minds of both volunteers and unsuspecting American citizens with LSD, radiation, and other methods.

Wikipedia explains the mystery of the project's name:

The project's intentionally oblique CIA cryptonym is made up of the digraph MK, meaning that the project was sponsored by the agency's Technical Services Division, followed by the arbitrary dictionary word ULTRA. Other related cryptonyms include MK-NAOMI and MK-DELTA.

Thanks to wikipedia, I also discovered something called Project ARTICHOKE, which allegedly evolved into MKULTRA in 1953. Does mind control research continue, perhaps under the name of some seemingly innocent fruit or vegetable? Some believe it does--though we should each decide for ourselves--provided, of course, that we are not already controlled by sinister forces...