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New York TimesA fierce and provocative inquiry into the ethical, social and epistemological significance of human cloning...
“An intelligent and delightfully bizarre excursion into ethical and philosophical issues raised by technology.”
“THE COMPELLING STORY OF AN INDIVIDUAL GIRL TRYING TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH ABOUT HERSELF.”
“Hoffman’s consistent sensitivity is informed by her wide erudition. . . . The Secret is compelling throughout for Hoffman’s prose, for her insights on identity, for her reflections on history.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Hoffman brilliantly meditates on [a] mystery in her auspicious fiction debut. . . . This is a novel of ideas in the tradition of 1984 and Brave New World.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Hoffman’s . . . multilayered, cautionary ‘fable’ of genetic engineering in the near future proves compelling, in both its cool intelligence and its insistent moral questioning. . . . The Secret is intriguing and deeply sinister, even as it ultimately affirms those mysteries of life and human freedom that still elude us.”
“VERY MUCH RECOMMENDED . . .[A] thoughtful, philosophical treatment of the devastating effects a wholly fatherless state can trigger. An uneasy look at the potential fallout from biological tampering, this first novel . . . is ripe for lively book discussion.”
“A serious, intelligent, psychological novel which will enhance Hoffman’s reputation for wise words gracefully expressed.”
“Hoffman sketches a creepily plausible near-future in which her protagonist experiences a very 21st-century identity crisis.”
“A modern allegory somewhere between Frankenstein, the golems of Jewish folklore, and Blade Runner.”
—Independent on Sunday
It seemed my bad luck to keep finding myself at airports at night. I walked through O'Hare's endless corridors and out into a flat darkness, punctuated dimly by yellow, unbeckoning lights. Lights receding into ceaseless stretches of highway, of endlessly unspooling, unhomed space. The taxi with its driver whom I'd woken from his nap, sped along the highway soundlessly, encountering only the occasional flashes of another car. At this hour, it seemed as if the world had become uninhabited. On the outskirts of our town the green sign of the electric recharge station was muted to near extinguishment.
The taxi created narrow funnels of light as we drove through the dark streets, past the familiar outlines of the college buildings. I directed the driver to our neighborhood, sensing the contours of the streets through the rustling trees, the silvery sculpture in somebody's yard, the sudden hiss and yowl of mating cats. I felt both illicit and safe as long as I was in the taxi. Then we were at the house, its silhouette briefly bathed in the taxi's reflectors. I paid and got out.
"Will you be all right?" the driver asked. I think he was a bit spooked by our quiet stretch of exurbia.
"Sure," I said, and he drove away. The house was plunged in darkness again, its blind windows gaping like holes. I tried to fight off the Weirdness, thefamiliar strange sensation at the back of my neck, the opening into a cavernous darkness.
I rang the doorbell. There was no answer, but the light in her room went on. I rang the doorbell again. I heard her coming downstairs. The door opened.
She looked a mess. Her hair was uncombed and she was wearing a half-open bathrobe. Her face was slightly puffy. There was a quality of dishevelment about her I'd never seen before. We stood facing each other silently, taking in each other's presence, our mirroring misery. Her eyes were as wretched as mine. Her eyes were still the mirror into which I could walk and drown. She put her arms around me wordlessly, and for a moment I gave in to her familiar warmth as to a luxury. To vanquish all distance; to stop supporting my unsupportable separateness-the temptation was almost too much. Then, as if it were my very last chance, as if it were crucial to use every ounce of my strength to accomplish this, I pulled away.
"Your mother died today," I said coldly.
Excerpted from The Secret by Eva Hoffman Copyright © 2002 by Eva Hoffman
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted January 21, 2010
Eva Hoffman writes like an angel--that she has proven several times over, in her five non-fiction books. But now she steps into fiction as if into a garment that was meant to fit. Her characters are rich and alive, her descriptions are crystal-clear and the plot is absolutely page-turning and haunting. I'm not sure how much secret of "The Secret" I can give away, but rather than spoiling things I'll just say it touches on genetics and science, on the future, and family, on mother/child bonds and the nature of identity. A beautifully conceived and beautifully written book. --Liz RosenbergWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 29, 2009
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Posted July 22, 2009
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