Sunday, September 19, 2004
Driving Mr. Albert
A Trip across America with Einstein's Brain
Format: Paperback, Non-fiction
Pub. Date: May 2004
Albert Einstein's brain floats in formaldehyde in a Tupperware bowl in a gray duffel bag in the trunk of a Buick Skylark barreling across America. Driving the car is Michael Paterniti, a young journalist from Maine. Sitting next to him is an 84-year-old pathologist named Thomas Harvey who performed the autopsy on Einstein in 1955 -- and simply removed the brain and took it home. And kept it for over forty years.
Paterniti is driving Harvey and the brain from New Jersey to California, where Harvey will show it to Einstein's granddaughter, Evelyn, and also display it to a group of high school students. Driving Mr. Albert is a map of their ten day adventure. With the brain as both cargo and talisman, Paterniti perceives every hotel, truckstop diner, and casino as a weigh station for the American dream in the wake of the scientist's mind-blowing legacy.
Billboards, T-shirts, self-appointed Einstein fanatics all become the grist for this dazzling young writer's assessments of Einstein's life and work, as well as the nature of celebrity, relics, and America itself. Finally, inspired by the man who gave a skeptical world a glimpse of its cosmic origins, Paterniti weaves his own unified field theory of time, love, and the power to believe, once again, in eternity.
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