My Famous Brain
She Writes Press (2021)
Reviewed by Jen Oliver-Rigsby for Reader Views (06/2022)
“My Famous Brain” by Diane Wald introduces readers to Jack MacLeod and his ability to memorize books, not just passages, but actual full-length books. However, his brain is also the part of his body that failed him the most. “My Famous Brain” tells Jack’s adult life from a different point of view-mostly from after his death.
Jack’s character is well-developed and readers will care about him, his relationships, and how he deals with life and life’s hiccups. Jack’s characterization is realistic—does everyone tell the person who they are about to divorce that they are dealing with a life-threatening illness? This reader certainly wouldn’t if the love was long gone. He does his best to provide for his wife and sons. He does his best to be a good professor and a decent coworker. He knows the importance of strong relationships.
The timeline of “My Famous Brain” unfolded sporadically and at times it was hard to follow which part of Jack’s life and relationship were being discussed. This reader found it confusing and jarring. The premise of telling one’s story from the point of view after death is intriguing, but this reader still expects a story to follow a timeline and not jump back and forth.
The premise of the title does not last long in the story. Yes, it is brought up back at the end when Jack tries to recite a famous book from memory, but that is about it. It would have been nice if the author would have made more references to why Jack had a famous brain throughout the book-like when he was at a restaurant with his friends and he retells a certain novel or when he was courting, he breaks out into a book during those awkward moments.
Overall, “My Famous Brain” is a decent and quick read where readers will appreciate Jack and his relationships, including the one with his brain. The telling of the story after his death was a great way to look back at his life. The telling of one relationship as a soulmate type of relationship and how that connection stood the test of time was hopeful. Is there really a soulmate out there for everyone?