The Man Without a Shadow by Joyce Carol Oates is a new novel about a man named Eli who suffers brain damage after contracting encephalitis and a woman named Margo who spends the majority of her adult life using him as a test subject at the Neurological Institute where she is employed.
Eli lives in a world of his own because, much like Alzheimer’s victims, he suffers short-term memory loss. In fact, he cannot remember recent events or people. He does however, have memories of a past which holds vivid imagery of his cousin who drowned when she was young.
The book covers a span of decades. Reading it, I thought it was too long. It contains many subplots. Even though the story is about the relationship between Margot and Eli, it is more so a story about medical ethics. For me, it brought back memories of the class I took in college about the brain. Overall, it made me think of the many atrocities committed in the name of science. Oates is an excellent writer and this is an interesting novel.