Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Following Goodman's Intuition

Thanks to BookReporter.com's One To Watch feature,I've been spending most of this week reading Allegra Goodman's new novel,Intuition. This is the first book of hers that I have ever read(did own Kaaterskill Falls for awhile but never got around to it and eventually donated my copy to the local thrift shop)and now I'm wondering what took me so damn long to introduce myself to her world of words.

Intuition's plot is centered around a cancer research lab run by the charismatic Sandy Glass(I keep picturing Phillip Seymour Hoffman in my head when I get to his character)and Marion Mendelssohn,the Felix to his Oscar Madison. When one of their postdoctoral students,Cliff,turns a seemingly failed experiment into an overnight success,Sandy is more than ready to publicize the findings while Marion(despite her natural cautiousness)goes along for the ride.

Much needed funds and professional status due to the project become jeopardized when Cliff's ex-girlfriend and lab partner,Robin,starts to question Cliff's results and begins to find evidence that contradicts his findings. If this sounds like a dry medical thriller,think again. This is very much a family drama,with no white hat/black hat characters or pat solutions,rather all too real people caught up inside their professional lives so much that the smallest thing could cause that realm to shatter apart and affect more than just themselves.

The staff of the Philpott Institute are as entwined as any other clan and react like siblings when the tide starts to turn for the favored or not so favored child. Goodman doesn't shortchange any of the supporting characters in terms of depth and story arc;one of my favorite people in this book is Feng,the quirky tech who becomes the media focus of the experiment publicity mill,much to Cliff's disappointment. Feng is one of those quiet yet intregal people who seem to blend into the background but are the first to be called upon when the chips are down.

Intuition is already gathering critical praise as I write this but don't put it in the Overhype catagory just yet;try it for yourself and if it's the first time for you as it is for me to read Allegra Goodman,don't be too hard on yourself. Just be glad you met up with her in the nick of time as she's at her very best.

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