The Man Without a Shadow

Author Oates, Joyce Carol
Year 2016
First published 2016
Number of pages 384
Edition First US Hardcover
ISBN 9780062416094
Keywords scientist main character, women in science, cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology (experimental), scientific ethics, historical, female scientist, FMS Library Book


Margot Sharpe is a promising graduate student working in an innovative neuroscience lab when she is first introduced to Elihu Hoopes in the fall of 1965. Elihu Hoopes is an attractive, charming, captivating individual. He is artistic and athletic, funny and eager. He also happens to be her experimental subject, an amnesiac who can only remember the previous seventy seconds before his memory resets. He can’t form new memories and the memories of his past are broken and erratic. Margot works with the brilliant Milton Ferris exploring the mysteries of the brain, using Elihu Hoopes as their experimental subject. Over the next thirty years she grows as a scientist, publishing numerous papers and cultivating a growing reputation in the field of neuroscience. Elihu meanders through a confused life, mentally stalled at the age of 37, haunted by disturbing images of a drowned eleven-year-old girl. Margot finds herself uncontrollably attracted to her patient, but she struggles with the amnesiac’s questionable ability to reciprocate her feelings. This novel addresses issues such as scientific ethics, loneliness, love and aging (FMS-Bailey).