BOOKS: BRAIN LABOR

A FLUKY MATHEMATICAL GENIUS WRESTLES THE ENIGMA CODE

OF ALL HUMAN CONDITIONS--love, rage, fear, madness and the rest of the ragbag--the hardest for an actor or a writer of fiction to counterfeit is genius. Merely reminding us won't work, because we haven't been there. Is genius simply a powerful flow of really good ideas? Doesn't help; we don't know where even moderately good ideas come from. Robert Harris, whose chilling novel Fatherland imagined what Europe might have been like had World War II stalled out in an English defeat and a U.S. withdrawal, makes a brave try at construing genius, the light bulb over the unicorn's head, in his...

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