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Flowers For Algernon (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 1 Aug 2006
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Daniel Keyes wrote little SF but is highly regarded for one classic, Flowers for Algernon. As a 1959 novella it won a Hugo award; the 1966 novel-length expansion won a Nebula. The Oscar-winning movie adaptation Charly (1968) also spawned a 1980 Broadway musical.
Following his doctor's instructions, engaging simpleton Charlie Gordon tells his own story in a semi-literate "progris riports". He dimly wants to better himself but with an IQ of 68 can't even beat the laboratory mouse Algernon at maze-solving:
I dint feel bad because I watched Algernon and I lernd how to finish the amaze even if it takes me along time.
I dint know mice were so smart.
Algernon is extra-clever thanks to an experimental brain operation so far tried only on animals. Charlie eagerly volunteers as the first human subject. After frustrating delays and agonies of concentration, the effects begin to show and the reports steadily improve: "Punctuation, is fun!" But getting smarter brings cruel shocks, as Charlie realises that his merry "friends" at the bakery where he sweeps the floor have all along been laughing at him, never with him. The IQ rise continues, taking him steadily past the human average to genius level and beyond, until he's as intellectually alone as the old, foolish Charlie ever was--and now painfully aware of it. Then, ominously, the smart mouse Algernon begins to deteriorate ...
A timeless tear-jerker with a terrific emotional impact, Flowers for Algernon is the 25th choice in the millennium SF Masterworks series. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is one of the greats: a story and a central character that have stayed with me for thirty years, from the first moment I picked it up (Conn Iggulden)
A masterpiece of poignant brilliance . . . heartbreaking, and utterly, completely brilliant (Guardian)
A timeless tearjerker (Independent)
Excellent . . . extremely moving (The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction)
Unflinchingly honest . . . it will make you reflect on your own life . . . and completely and utterly break your heart (Guardian Online)
A narrative tour de force, very moving, beautiful and remorseless in its simple logic (Science Fiction, 100 Best Novels)
Strikingly original (Publishers Weekly)
A tale that is convincing, suspectful and touching (New York Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I first read 'Flowers For Algernon' after my youngest brother told me about it, at the time he was reading it at school and he enjoyed it.
'Flowers For Algernon' is a great story, the story of Charlie and the changes he goes through spoke to me. Charlie (for me) is one of the memorable characters of literature, he's likeable, kind, determined, and that was before his life changing experiment, after the operation Charlie does change, he becomes aware, confident, learning new subjects and skills but I felt the essence of who Charlie was, was lost. Charlie also learns more about his past and its heart breaking to read, he was so misunderstood and so easily forgotten by his own family, he deserved better.
Charlie's plight shows how difficult it can be living in a world where you are an individual who may or not may be accepted, someone to be laughed at, I felt bad for Charlie as he realised the nature of his relationships with people he called friends but did not treat him like one.
'Flowers For Algernon' explores different subjects and it is a interesting read, you want Charlie to be happy and to find the answers he deserves. The ending will stay with you.
I cant remember who or why this was recommended to me but I really really enjoyed it. Ive read it once and cant wait to pick it up again in a few years. Its a fairly simple read, in that it isnt the longest book, but it certainly has a strong emotional drive. Has a very unusual start to the book and took me more than a few minutes to get used to the writing style - but it is justified in its difficulty to read and gives plenty opportunity to empathise with the protagonist as his journey begins.
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