Excerpt from The Explanation for Everything by Lauren Grodstein, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Explanation for Everything

By Lauren Grodstein

The Explanation for Everything
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Sep 2013,
    372 pages.
    Paperback: 27 May 2014,
    384 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"So?" Rosenblum said, as Andy delivered a stack of graded papers?—?papers he'd graded painstakingly with his uninjured left hand. "You want me to find her for you?"

"I don't know," he said. "She's got a boyfriend."

"So that's it? You let her go?" Rosenblum was sitting amid the educated squalor of his office, files everywhere like the aftermath of a ticker tape parade, books on every surface, dead plants, a dead terrarium, an empty aquarium, an empty ashtray, and the detritus of his life as a celebrity: T-shirts, posters, and pins emblazoned with his face over the title of his most recent bestseller, Religion's Dangerous Lie.

Andy leaned back against Rosenblum's doorframe. He was already itching under his cast, and the thing was sup-posed to stay on for six more weeks. "I don't think I ever had her, Hank. I don't see how I can let her go."

Rosenblum raised his crazed eyebrows. "Well, for chrissakes, Andrew, sit down. Didn't your mother ever teach you it's rude to stand in people's doorways? Or don't people know that in Ohio?"

This was part of Rosenblum's cosmology?—?that Andy was a fatherless rube from the sticks (greater Cleveland) who needed a sophisticate like Rosenblum (who hailed from the most Jewish precincts of Brooklyn) to show him the ways of the world. Andy was one in a line of students to whom Rosenblum had taken a liking, cooked dinner for ("You ever try ahi tuna? No, idiot, it doesn't come from a can"), poured wine for, tried to train not only as a biologist but as a certain kind of bon vivant, one attuned to the pleasures of the world as much as the wonders of the microscope. Andy had proven himself a keen student?—?Rosenblum's major requirement, in a mentee, was that he be both bright and a touch sycophantic?—?and the fact that he was from Ohio, of all places, made Rosenblum that much more interested in Andy's transformation. "Ohio!" he would hoot, apropos of little. "Is there any state more depressingly nowhere than Ohio? Has anything great ever happened in Ohio? To anyone from Ohio? In the whole history of Ohio?"

"Paul Newman?" Andy would offer. "Neil Armstrong?"

"Hollywood!" Rosenblum would counter, self-righteous. "The moon!"

Rosenblum liked to take Andy out to eat on occasion at the finest restaurants in central New Jersey ("Which of course is like swimming on the finest beach in Siberia, but what can we do?") and took him to J. Press for a decent suit to wear to the Gene and Genome convention in Chicago ("We'll charge it to the department," Rosenblum said, rakishly, although Andy suspected he'd paid for it himself).

And of course, amid all this Pygmalion bustle, Rosenblum oversaw Andy's biology training. Andy was interested in gene theory, and Rosenblum, one of the premier American evolutionary biologists of his generation, guided Andy's research through generations of mice and endlessly revised papers. It was with Rosenblum that Andy published his first research, and it was under Rosenblum's careful supervision that Andy devised his dissertation thesis around the relationship between specific brain structures and specific de-generative conditions. And it was under Rosenblum that Andy became an avowed and devoted atheist, seeking out, like his mentor, the superstitious gaze of the Believer wherever it roamed and staring it down in an unlosable game of chicken.

"Listen, my young friend," Rosenblum said, flicking something invisible from his cuff before turning his attention back to Andy's pathetic figure slumping into the seat opposite him. "Don't be a schmuck. This beautiful girl gives you an opening, you can't just let her go."

"It really wasn't such a great opening. And anyway, when I left the ER she was gone."

"So? You can't get a nurse to give you her records? Find out her address?"

Excerpted from The Explanation for Everything by Lauren Grodstein. Copyright © 2013 by Lauren Grodstein. Excerpted by permission of Algonquin Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Scopes Trial

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...
  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois
  2.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin

All Discussions

Who Said...

Beware the man of one book

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.