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Flowers for Algernon

A novel written by Daniel Keyes in 1966

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A true classic

  • Aug 21, 2000
  • by
How many books can make this claim? 1) They are thought provoking. 2) They are exceedingly clever. 3) They are exceptionally well-written. "Flowers for Algernon" surpasses all criteria and is truely astonishing!

The story is full of symbolism and ironies. Some are obvious while others are well hidden in the richly plotted text. This work can be read on many levels and can be enjoyed by all.

Keyes transition from the dim-witted Charlie to the super genious who must write "down" to a level where his work can be understood. This transition is as smoothe as silk and completely convincing. Pay attention to Keyes use of sentence structure as a tool for Charlie intellectual growth it is very clever. The concept and the execution of Keyes' central idea is nothing short of remarkable. Do not kid yourself - this was not an easy book to write. Keyes was able to pull us into Charlies life and make us understand his struggles as a mentally challenged young man. More amazing is his ability to show us the emotional struggles of a man who becomes a genious.

The story begs the question. Is better to have and lose, or to never obtain and wonder. All readers will draw their own conclusions. However, I hope I have not left any questions about my conclusion on the quality of this masterpiece.

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More Flowers for Algernon reviews
review by . May 21, 2010
Sad and thought provoking, this tale comes full circle with Charlie's character implying that being profoundly intelligent can be as crippling and isolating as profound retardation. Is it better, then, to be ignorant of your isolation? This book made me very emotional. It is heartfelt and wonderful.   It's first person perspective intimately involves the reader from the beginning and communicates his hardships in a way that a 3rd person narrative could not.
Quick Tip by . October 05, 2010
A cautionary tale. Just because a thing "can" be done, it does not necessarily follow that it "should" be done.
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
Fascinating look into what "smart" means, and what it might be worth. Keyes works brilliantly with the psyche, perception, and ability to describe what his narrator experiences. In this way, a predecessor to "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." Wonderful read. Moving.
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Wonderful and touching story!
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
This was a very moving book. i found myself on the edge of tears after reading it. When a book has the power to touch and move you in that way, you never want to let it go. You share in the pain of the main character, the confusion felt by all. The main character has to make a choice between an old way of being and thinking and the new way that has presented itself. He can be a genius and be loathe by all or a special needs individual and be loved and helped. Truly a remarkable piece of work.
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
Super sad for me to read
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
A slow read, but pretty worth it in the end.
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Good but sad book. This is one of the books I enjoyed reading in school.
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
excellent book!!
Quick Tip by . June 19, 2010
Good Story but Sad
About the reviewer

Ranked #222
At one time, I may have been the world's biggest baseball fan. However, now that I have a family I amin danger of falling out of the top 100. In addition to my beautiful wife and lovely daughter (and … more
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Flowers for Algernon is a science fiction short story and subsequent novel written by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1960. The novel was published in 1966 and was joint winner of that year's Nebula Award for Best Novel (with Babel-17).

The titular Algernon is a laboratory mouse who has undergone surgery to increase his intelligence by artificial means. The story is told as a series of progress reports written by Charlie, the first human test subject for the surgery, and touches upon many different ethical and moral themes such as the treatment of the mentally disabled.

Although the book has often been challenged for removal from libraries in the US and Canada, sometimes successfully, it is regularly taught in schools around the world and has been adapted numerous times for television, theatre, radio and as the Academy Award-winning film, Charly.

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