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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Hailed as “a writer of uncommon clarity” by the New Yorker, National Book Award finalist Allegra Goodman has dazzled readers with her acclaimed works of fiction, including such beloved bestsellers as The Family Markowitz and Kaaterskill Falls. Now she returns with a bracing new novel, at once an intricate mystery and a rich human drama set in the high-stakes atmosphere of a prestigious research institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sandy Glass, a charismatic publicity-seeking oncologist, and Marion Mendelssohn, a pure, exacting scientist, are codirectors of a lab at the Philpott Institute dedicated to cancer research and desperately in need of a grant. Both mentors and supervisors of their young postdoctoral protégés, Glass and Mendelssohn demand dedication and obedience in a competitive environment where funding is scarce and results elusive. So when the experiments of Cliff Bannaker, a young postdoc in a rut, begin to work, the entire lab becomes giddy with newfound expectations. But Cliff’s rigorous colleague–and girlfriend–Robin Decker suspects the unthinkable: that his findings are fraudulent. As Robin makes her private doubts public and Cliff maintains his innocence, a life-changing controversy engulfs the lab and everyone in it.

With extraordinary insight, Allegra Goodman brilliantly explores the intricate mixture of workplace intrigue, scientific ardor, and the moral consequences of a rush to judgment. She has written an unforgettable novel.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

1


All day the snow had been falling. Snow muffled every store and church; drifts erased streets and sidewalks. The punks at the new Harvard Square T stop had tramped off, bright as winter cardinals with their purple tufted hair and orange Mohawks. The sober Vietnam vet on Mass Ave had retreated to Au Bon Pain for coffee. Harvard Yard was quiet with snow. The undergraduates camping there for Harvard's divestment from South Africa had packed up their cardboard boxes, tents, and sleeping bags and begun building snow people. Cambridge schools were closed, but the Philpott Institute was open as usual. In the Mendelssohn-Glass lab, four postdocs and a couple of lab techs were working.

Two to a bench, like cooks crammed into a restaurant kitchen, the postdocs were extracting DNA in solution, examining cells, washing cells with chemicals, bursting cells open, changing cells forever by inserting new genetic material. They were operating sinks with foot pedals, measuring and moving solutions milliliter by milliliter with pipettes, their exacting eyedroppers. They were preparing liquids, ices, gels.

There was scarcely an inch of counter space. Lab benches were covered with ruled notebooks and plastic trays, some blue, some green, some red, each holding dozens of test tubes. Glass beakers stood above on shelves, each beaker filled with red medium for growing cells. The glass beakers were foil topped, like milk bottles sealed for home delivery. Peeling walls and undercounter incubators were covered with postcards, yellowing Doonesbury cartoons, photographs from a long-ago lab picnic at Walden Pond. The laminar flow hood was shared, as was the good microscope. In 1985, the Philpott was famous, but it was full of old instruments. Dials and needle indicators looked like stereo components from the early sixties. The centrifuge, designed for spinning down cells in solution, was clunky as an ancient washing machine. There wasn't enough money to buy new equipment. There was scarcely enough to pay the postdocs.

On ordinary days, the researchers darted into and out of the lab to the common areas on the floor. The cold room, warm room, and stockroom were shared with the other third-floor labs, as was the small conference room with its cheap chrome and wood-grain furniture, good for meetings and naps. But this Friday no one left the lab, not even the lab techs, Aidan and Natalya. Gofers and factotums for the postdocs, these two belonged to a scientific service class, but no one dared treat them like servants. They were strong-willed and politically aware, attuned to every power struggle. They kept darting looks at each other, as if to say "It's time to go downstairs," but they delayed going to the animal facility for fear of missing something. The lab directors, Marion Mendelssohn and Sandy Glass, were meeting in the office down the hall. They had been conferring for half an hour, and this did not bode well. One of the postdocs was in trouble.

How bad was it? No one spoke. Prithwish kept his head down over a tray of plastic tubes, eyes almost level with the avocado plant he'd grown from seed. "My most successful experiment," he often said ruefully. Robin ducked out to look up and down the hall, then brushed past Feng as she hurried back inside. The black and white clock on the wall was ticking past three, but like the clocks in grade school, this one was always slow. Natalya glared at Aidan, as if to say "I went downstairs last time; it's really your turn now," but Aidan turned airily away. It might have been funny, but no one joked at the techs' pantomime.

"Cliff." Suddenly, Marion Mendelssohn was standing in the doorway. She stood there, fearsome, implacable, dark eyes glowering. "Could we have a word with you?" Cliff smiled tightly and shrugged, a desperate little show of nonchalance.

The others looked everywhere else, as their lab director led Cliff away to the office she shared with Sandy Glass.

Cliff's cheeks were already burning as he followed Marion down the corridor. At six foot three, he was more than a foot taller than Marion. Still, he was entirely in her power, and he dreaded what she and Glass were about to say. For years he'd been developing a variant of Respiratory Syncytial Virus and had dreamed of using his modified RSV to transform cancer cells into normal cells. His experiments were not working; Sandy and Marion had ordered him to give them up, and he had disobeyed.

The door closed behind him, and Cliff was standing in the tight, cluttered office.

"Now, Cliff," said Glass, "did we or did we not have a discussion about your continuing trials with RSV?"

Cliff stood silent.

"Maybe you don't remember our conversation," said Glass, smiling.

Cliff did remember, and he knew better than to smile back. Always cheerful, brimming with the irrepressible joy of his own intelligence, Sandy Glass smiled most when he was angry.

"I said you had to stop using RSV," Sandy reminded Cliff. "You said you understood."

Cliff nodded.

"We established RSV has some effect in vitro," Glass said. "Congratulations. You're on your way to curing cancer in a petri dish. But what have we established when we try injecting RSV into living mice?"

Cliff looked away.

"You've established nothing. You injected fifty-six mice with RSV, with no effect on tumors whatsoever. Therefore, Marion and I asked you to stop. We asked you nicely to move on. What did you do next?"

"I tried again," Cliff said, staring down at the floor.

"Yes, you did. You tried again."

"I'm sorry."

Sandy ignored this. "We told you to stop wasting resources on RSV."

"I didn't want to give up," Cliff said.

"Look, I realize RSV was your baby," Sandy said. "I realize this was two years' work developing the virus."

Two and a half years, Cliff amended silently.

"We understand you put your heart and soul into this project." Sandy glanced at Marion, who looked anything but understanding. "The point is, RSV does not work. And now, yet another set of experiments--against all advice, against our specific instructions. What were you thinking, Cliff? Don't say anything. Perseverance can be a valuable trait, particularly when you're right. But we see now that this third trial is showing every sign of failing spectacularly. No, don't apologize. Just tell us what you were thinking. Tell us your thoughts, because we really want to know."

Why had he tried twice more with the virus after it had failed? They were expecting an answer, but Cliff could not speak. The truth shamed him; it was so simple: he could not bear to jettison work that had taken so much time. The hours, the thousands of hours he'd spent, sickened him. How could he confess to that? The scientific method was precise and calibrated. A scientist was, by definition, impassive. He cut his losses and moved on to something else; he was exhausted, perhaps, but never defiant with exhaustion. A scientist did not allow emotion to govern his experiments.

And yet Cliff had been emotional and unrealistic about his work. He had behaved unprofessionally, taking his long shot again, and yet again. How could he explain that? There was only one reasonable explanation: he was not a scientist. This was what Mendelssohn and Glass were driving at.

"Did we or did we not agree," said Glass, "that you would end the wholesale extermination of our lab animals?"

"We don't have the money," said Mendelssohn, and she didn't mean funds for the mice themselves, which cost about fifteen dollars each, but the money for the infinite care the delicate animals required. "You'll recall we asked you to work with Robin."

"She could still use another pair of hands," Glass said, and Cliff hated him for that, and for the patronizing, slightly prurient tone in Glass's voice.

"I deserve my own project," Cliff said, raising his eyes.

"There is no such thing as your own project in this lab," Mendelssohn declared.

"Look, this is a team," Glass said, "and you need to pull your weight, not drag everyone else down with your personal flights of fancy."

Down the hall, in the lab, the others gathered like near relations at a funeral.

"They wouldn't fire him," Prithwish said loyally. He was Cliff's roommate, after all.

"They will not fire him," Feng agreed.

Natalya thought about this. "My feeling is Mendelssohn would not, but Glass would." She was Russian and had been a doctor herself, before coming to America. Natalya had never taken to Glass.

"They'll be arguing, then," said Prithwish.

"They'll let him stay," Aidan predicted, "and make him so miserable he'll leave by himself."

"He was miserable before," Prithwish pointed out, but the others hushed him. Cliff was coming back down the corridor.

Instantly his friends scattered, vanishing into the clutter of glassware and instruments like rabbits in the brush. All but Robin, who pulled at Cliff's sleeve. Silently they slipped into the adjoining stockroom, the lab's poisonous pharmacological pantry.

She closed the door behind her. "Are you all right?"

His cheeks were flushed, his eyes unusually bright. "I'm fine."

She drew closer, but he turned away.

"What are you going to do?"

"I don't know," he said. "They've already tried to pawn me off on you."

"They suggested that you work with me?"

"Six months ago, but I said no."

She was surprised, and hurt. "You never told me that."

"What was the point? I didn't want to work on your stuff."

She folded her arms. "What's wrong with my stuff?"

"Nothing!" he lied.

She had spent five years working on what had once been considered a dazzling project, an analysis of frozen samples of blood, collected over the years from cancer patients who had died of various forms of the disease. Sandy Glass had been convinced that somewhere in these samples was a common marker, a significant tag that would suddenly reveal a unifying syndrome underlying his patients' tragic and diverse conditions. Glass had presented the project to Robin in her first year with a flourish, as if he were bestowing upon her a great gift. He'd told Robin he was convinced there was a Nobel Prize in this work; that this above all was the research he himself had hoped to do if his clinical duties had allowed. Then, having bestowed his blood collection along with a great deal of disorganized documentation about each donor's illness and death, he'd left her to work alone.

He'd chosen her for her fierce intelligence, her passion for discovery, her ambition--and, of course, Glass had always liked a beautiful postdoc. Robin's eyes were a warm brown, brilliant under pale lashes, her blond hair silken, although she tied it back unceremoniously with any old rubber band she happened to find. Her features were delicate and easily flushed, her teeth were small and almost, but not quite, straight. On the upper right side, one tooth overlapped another slightly, like a page turned down in a book. With her fine eyes and shining hair, she'd always seemed to Cliff like a girl out of a fairy tale. Still, even she could not spin Glass's dross into gold.

"So there's nothing wrong with my work, but it's not good enough for you," she challenged Cliff.

"No, I didn't say that."

"That's what you were thinking."

"Look, if I ever thought that, I'm sorry. Just, please . . ."

Gravely, she turned on him. "But you aren't sorry."

"Stop!"

"I just thought . . ." she began.

"Don't think anything. Just leave me alone."

He strode back through the lab and out into the hall. How could Robin expect him to talk to her? What did she want from him? To beg her to let him work on her dismal black hole of a project? To break down sobbing on her shoulder so she could comfort him? He still heard the humorous disdain in Glass's voice. He saw the hard disappointment in Mendelssohn's eyes. They had not ordered him to leave; they'd even allowed that he might stay, but they had made him suffer. They had held up the evidence of his disobedience and failure, then tossed whatever scrap of a scientist he'd been upon the garbage heap and all but called out "Next!" There was Prithwish coming after him down the corridor. Cliff was not going to suffer his condolences. He escaped into the stairwell and bolted down the stairs.

Outside the institute, the snow had stopped. The December sun was setting, and the world was strangely still. He'd run down four flights of stairs, and stood for a moment, breathing hard. Then he caught his breath and his anger flared again. He kicked his way through the snow, mouthing retorts. Who do you think you are? Who do you think I am?

He walked without noticing distance or direction. Startled, he saw a red neon sign, LIBBY'S IQUORS, and realized he was in Central Square. A bus swept past, but there were scarcely any cars on the road. Stores were closed, and clean snow blew over the empty taxi stands. All alone, Cliff walked on.

He walked over a mile, as far as MIT, and then turned around and started back again past shuttered Victorian factories converted into warehouses, redbrick ramparts lowering in the shadows of taller office buildings. He thought about calling his parents, but what could they say to him? They owned a stationery store in West Los Angeles. They'd always encouraged Cliff. He'd attended University High School, gone to science camp in summers, practiced triangulation on sunbaked tennis courts, built his own weather station, cooked homemade versions of Silly Putty, toothpaste, and glue. His parents had paid for chemistry sets, and student microscopes, and even Stanford. They were well educated; both had gone to college, but Cliff was the first person in his family to earn a PhD. His parents knew nothing about bench work or lab politics. He thought of his thesis advisor, now dead. What would Professor Oppenheimer have said? He'd have laughed, of course, showing off his yellow teeth. He'd say, "What do you expect? You don't listen to the lab director, you get busted. You screw around with someone in the lab; of course you're gonna end up fighting later. You get what you deserve. How many times do I have to tell you? Don't shit where you eat."

His hands were cold, even in his pockets. He walked and walked up Mass Ave, and then along the Charles River, and his heart began to calm. The cold air began to smooth and smother his angry pride; numb despair overtook indignation.

He imagined he would keep walking forever in ever-widening circles, but as the river curved, he came upon the Weeks Footbridge, and there on the bridge he stopped. The Charles stretched out in the dark; pure, white, frosted with snow, like an ancient road now forgotten.

Cliff was overcome with a profound idea. He would walk across the river. Invisibly he would walk across the invisible river and leave his own footprints in the white snow on the frozen water. In the middle of the city, he would wander alone as if in the country, the slight crunch of the ice under his feet. He would walk to the other side.


From the Hardcover edition.
Allegra Goodman|Author Q&A

About Allegra Goodman

Allegra Goodman - Intuition

Photo © Nina Subin

Allegra Goodman’s novels include Intuition and Kaaterskill Falls. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and Best American Short Stories. She is a winner of the Whiting Writer’s Award and a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.AllegraGoodman.com or become a fan on Facebook.

Author Q&A

Your previous novels and short story collections have centered on religious and spiritual issues as well as various aspects of the Jewish experience, yet your latest novel moves away from those themes to explore faith in a scientific sense. Was this shift in focus premeditated or did it happen organically as the story took shape?

I had long been interested in writing about scientists and their particular beliefs and doubts. I've also long been interested in writing about community. Like Kaaterskill Falls, Intuition is a novel about faith, ritual and community. Like The Family Markowitz, Intuition is a book about trying to define and express yourself in a family–except that in this new book I am exploring scientific faith, experimental ritual and the community in a laboratory and those professional families that develop in the workplace. Thematically there is common ground between this new novel and my other books. That said, "Intuition" is a departure for me in the sense that I am writing about a new milieu. I made a conscious decision to learn about work and procedures previously unfamiliar to me. I decided that not only did I want to write about researchers, but that I wanted to do research myself–in observing scientists at work in a laboratory. I went into a lab and talked to post docs and took notes and drew pictures. For example, I sketched the animals and their cages. I drew a mouse pinned down on the dissection pad. This process was new for me–and exhilarating.

Because the Philpott Institute is hungry for results, Cliff’s preliminary findings are immediately judged a success by his bosses while his colleague Robin just as quickly regards his results with suspicion. Though snap judgments can be dangerous, isn’t there an equal risk of becoming paralyzed by caution?

Yes indeed. Snap judgments are dangerous and excessive caution is paralytic. A researcher has to know where to push and where to wait. There is a fine line between understanding the significance in data and forcing that significance on data. The characters in this book must define that line for themselves. The choices they make are quite revealing!
 
In a world of few certainties, do you believe there’s merit to letting our intuition guide us in certain instances?  

Intuition is a tricky quality. That inner certainty, that almost instinctive knowledge can be a gift. A seemingly powerful intuition can also be misleading. Again, my characters have to decide how far to trust their intuition.

The protagonist in your previous novel Paradise Park was obsessed by a quest for spiritual truth, while Robin in Intuition is single-mindedly obsessed with seeking scientific and moral truth. Do you believe there are any absolute truths in life or is everything, including science, subject to interpretation and extrapolation?

I believe there is such a thing as truth. Scientists are truth seekers and truth interpreter. There are certainly many ways to describe the world, but I do think there is an objective external reality there to uncover. The truth is not a construct. 

As a fiction writer, your work is by definition subjective, yet your husband is a mathematician who dwells in a black and white world of absolutes. Did this contrast between your professional lives provide inspiration for the novel’s theme of moral ambiguity? If not, what inspired you to explore this topic? 

My husband is a computer scientist, my sister is an oncologist, her husband is a computational biologist, my mother was a population geneticist, and I have several friends who work in labs. I live with scientists all around me, and so I've developed a natural curiosity about what scientists do and how they think. My work has also been informed by first hand experience of the pressures scientists work with–the constant applications for funding, the jostling for lab space, and the pressure to finish experiments before getting scooped by rivals. Over the years I've also seen the collaborations scientists develop, and as a solitary novelist, I've envied the camaraderie, and intellectual give and take my husband and other friends develop with their colleagues. I've observed the intense joy and sibling rivalry, the fights, the respect, the fun that characterize close collaborations. When I began "Intuition" I knew that this was a great subject for me: the complexity of these work relationships. 

What were the particular challenges in learning about the intricate, behind-the-scenes politics and protocols involved in the high stakes world of scientific research, which you portray with such remarkable insight?

Perhaps the greatest challenge to me in writing about scientists was to dramatize their work in a concrete way. I chose to write about biologists doing animal research because I felt that experiments with animals showed the reader scientific process in a concrete, immediate, visceral way. 


In addition to exploring the human side of the often nameless and faceless scientific community, did you set out to make a broader statement about the ways in which money and politics can negatively interfere with experimental research?

I'll leave it to the reader to infer broader statements about money, politics and experimentation. As a novelist I specialize in narrow statements–always the particular, and not the general–always the sweeping questions.

The mystery element of the novel is extremely suspenseful, fueled by the shifting narrative perspective that continually casts doubt on what the "truth" really is. What drove your decision to show the story unfolding from four such seemingly unreliable points of view, each colored by their own agenda?

There are many ways to tell a story. I think the contribution I can make is to tell a story from several sides, and beyond that, to tell the story from the INSIDE of several sides. This has always been my artistic interest–a kind of interior geometry. In the case of Intuition I found that my shifting point of view heightens suspense, and also implicates the reader in interesting ways. We identify with first one character and then another; we can see each more fully, and the experience is richer. 

Besides being compelling characters in their own right, lab co-directors Sandy Glass and Marion Mendelsohn share a unique bond that’s a fascinating study in contrasts. Were there any real-life role models for their distinctive relationship and do you think it’s a mistake to put too much faith in another person?

Is it dangerous to put too much faith in another person? I suppose there is always a risk there, but without risk there are no rewards of friendship, and intimacy. Sandy and Marion have enriched each other's lives. When it comes to Marion, Intuition asks several related questions as well–What happens over time when we lose faith in ourselves? Where can we find the strength and generosity to keep working with others?

In the past you’ve cited classics such as Middlemarch that inspired you to become a writer. Who are your modern inspirations and did any of them influence aspects of Intuition?

The two contemporary books I've enjoyed most in the past year were Marilynne Robinson's Gilead and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. But I had already finished writing Intuition when I read these. While writing Intuition I did a lot of rereading, much of it aloud to my oldest son: Dickens' Great Expectations, Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Swfit's Gulliver's Travels. All of these were far darker and more moving than I remembered! Closer to my own subject matter, I reread Sinclair Lewis' Arrowsmith which seemed rushed in places, but also rang true in its propulsive all-consuming manic energy.

Have you began thinking about or writing your next novel and how do you see your future work continuing to evolve in terms of subject matter?

I am indeed thinking about my next book. I keep future plans secret, but I can say that I'll use what I learned in Intuition: to set the bar high, to look out into the world, and to work patiently to tell my story.


From the Hardcover edition.

Praise

Praise

"Goodman's characters and story are luxuriously imagined.... [She] meticulously charts the insidiousness of doubt, showing how it metastasizes." — Newsday

"Superb.... a delicate analysis of how an ethics scandal filters through the sensibility of brilliant and brilliantly realized characters. It's a tricky operation that Goodman performs with a precision of a scientist, and the flair of an artist at the top of her game. A." — Entertainment Weekly

"This is a story of love and science both gone wrong, and Goodman handles the narrative and its wide web of details with efficiency and grace, bringing a novelist's eye to bear on a realm too often ignored."— O Magazine

"Powerful.... [An] extremely engaging novel that reflects the stops and starts of the scientific process, as well as its dependence on the complicated individuals who do the work.... A truly humanist novel from the supposedly antiseptic halls of science."— Publishers Weekly

"This brilliant novel shows a world of labs and researchers which seems unfamiliar to some of us, yet it's a world intimately relevant to our existence—our fallibility and vulnerability. Page by page the story shimmers with insights into the subtlety and complexity of human psychology and relationships. Allegra Goodman writes like a master." —Ha-Jin, National Book Award winning author of WAITING and WAR TRASH

"What a feat, to pull off a large story of science and politics in the here and now, with beautifully drawn and compelling characters, with all the large and small details of their lives. What a gift not to pass judgement on any of them, to love each character equally and fairly. The ending is perfection." — Jane Hamilton, author of THE MAP OF THE WORLD and THE BOOK OF RUTH

“Goodman’s interests—if not always her sympathies—lie with her all-too-human albeit brilliant creations....her portrayals of these scientists, in and out of their lab coats, are of the richest texture. These characters are only as beset by vanity, selfishness, egotism as the rest of us. But in the fiercely competitive, high-stakes world of cancer research, it’s enough for careers–and lives–to be destroyed.” — Vogue

“The best major American novel of the year so far” — The New York Sun

“Winningly original...In smartly unfolding scenes of scientific intrigue, political maneuvering, romance, and complex alliances, these memorably drawn characters play out their personal and professional dreams and deceptions. Goodman transports us in a fugue state of first-class storytelling from the bare-bones basement of the Philpott to the gleaming halls of Congress and back,Ébring[ing] us that much closer to the heart of the matter: what it means to be–merely, magnificently–human.” — Elle

"Believe it or not, a thriller and a page-turner about scientific fraud. Brilliant." — The Guardian

“There’s something of the breadth and generosity of a Victorian “three-decker” novel in the skill with which Goodman threads her ingenious plot through an ambitious mobilization of terse confrontations and detail-crammed scenes...Top-notch in every respect. A superlative novel.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


From the Hardcover edition.
Reader's Guide|Discussion Questions

About the Book

Hailed as "a writer of uncommon clarity" by the New Yorker, National Book Award finalist Allegra Goodman has for years delighted reading groups with her fiction, including such beloved bestsellers as The Family Markowitz and Kaaterskill Falls. Set in the high-stakes atmosphere of a prestigious research institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Intuition combines the vivid character portrayals and deeply human situations that have won Goodman high acclaim, and elements of a mystery add to the intrigue of this alluring drama.

Sandy Glass, a charismatic publicity-seeking oncologist, and Marion Mendelssohn, a pure, exacting scientist, are codirectors of a lab dedicated to cancer research but desperately in need of grants. When a key to the cure seems to have been discovered by Cliff Bannaker, their young postdoc protégé, the entire lab becomes giddy with newfound expectations. But Cliff's rigorous colleague (and girlfriend) Robin Decker suspects the unthinkable: that his findings are fraudulent. As Robin makes her private doubts public and Cliff maintains his innocence, a life-changing controversy engulfs the lab and everyone in it. Illuminating the motivations and inner lives of each player in the controversy, Goodman explores the elusive quests that haunt us all.

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Allegra Goodman's Intuition. We hope they will enrich your experience of this dazzling novel.

Discussion Guides

1. The word "intuition" means something different to each reader: it has positive and negative connotations. Is it an apt title? A great title? What role does intuition play in the novel and which characters display it? How?

2. Goodman's novel is set in the mid-1980s, and is rich with details that make it of that time. What did this backdrop add to the story? What might have changed if the action had been contemporary?

3. Are there any parallels between love and science as both play out in Intuition? What do Robin and Cliff discover about the experiment of their relationship as it unravels in Part III of the novel?

4. Near the end of Chapter Eight, Part IV, Goodman writes: "Robin's case against Cliff might as well have been a case against the status quo, an argument against the natural bumps and jolts of the creative process." What do you think of this statement, both as it relates to the action of the novel and as a theme? What is "the status quo" in a creative process? What influence did a place like the Philpott have on this process? Is there a place for creativity in empirical research?

5. Sandy is a charismatic character. Discuss your reaction to him in various modes: as a care provider with his patients; as a parent and spouse; as the public face of the Philpott. Are there conflicts? Is he likeable? Is he moral? What does your intuition tell you about his fate? Discuss his penchant for “useful” careers–what do you see for his children?

6. Sandy and Marion are "de facto" parents at the Philpott. How does their professional relationship mirror their personal lives (or not)?

7. Given the information the novel relates, were the media or ORIS capable of determining the truth about R-7? Why? What did you think?

8. Kate gives Cliff a novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. How and why is this revelatory and appropriate? What does it tell you about Kate as much as it does about Cliff?

9. Goodman's novels, including the National Book Award-nominated Kaaterskill Falls, bring readers into otherwise closed worlds. What makes this work for you? Did you feel the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the research world, and the subsequent "celebrity" of the teams and how it changed their lives? How is this achieved by Ms. Goodman?

10. What does Marion discover she needs? Where will it come from? Who will provide it? Do you feel she's been betrayed? Why or why not?

11. What will the investigation prove? What did Cliff do? What did Robin achieve?


  • Intuition by Allegra Goodman
  • March 13, 2007
  • Fiction - Literary; Fiction
  • Dial Press Trade Paperback
  • $15.00
  • 9780385336109

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