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Thursday, September 25, 2008


Wittenborn, Dirk. Pharmakon. This ARC examines drug research and drug use, the American Dream transformed, ego and arrogance, and family dysfunction.

It is one of those novels with a particularly impressive first line: "I was born because a man came to kill my father."

The first paragraph draws you in and the first half of the book is quite interesting. Research psychologist William Friedrich has many good qualities, but is, overall, a damaged individual who perpetuates some of his own childhood misery. His ambition leads him on a destructive path that he never intended when he develops a new drug that attempts to relieve suffering, to increase happiness. Good characterization and tension in this portion of the novel.

The last half of the book, however, deals with the children and is less interesting. Much less so. While it is sad to see the effect of events and parental personalities on the children, they were strangely unappealing and unsympathetic.

The Greek word pharmakon means both poison and cure. An apt description of the pharmaceutical industry.

Fiction. 2008. 403 pages.


  1. Too bad about the latter half of the book. That is definitely a great first line!

  2. bookfool - It is a great first line, isn't it?