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Book Recommendation: High Yield Embryology

I discovered this novel during my first year of medical school and found it difficult, insightful, but nothing worth comment. Since then I have had two years to write novels, read reviews in the New York Times Review of Books, wear skinny pants, and walk my labradoodle around The Mission in San Francisco.  As such, I have profoundly changed as a reader. A second and more artistically and critically rigorous reading of High Yield Embryology has demonstrated to me that no other novel written in the modern era better plumbs the depths of the Human Condition

This is a book that is both intensely modern and yet timeless, presenting a story that has been unfolding throughout history and will continue to unfold for so long as humanity persists.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this novel was its opening chapter devoted entirely to a dispassionate examination sex. I am not opposed to non-romantic or non-erotic narrations about human sexuality; however, the opening passages of High Yield Embryology will strike the reader as being detached, almost cold. The two involved  characters are never developed. The narrator stakes an interest in them only in so far as their actions, their responses (hormonal and otherwise), and their bodies further the story’s physical developments

Less surprising but more troubling than the initial glut of almost-scientific sex, the following chapters introduce an unnamed protagonist devoid of personality. Indeed, in a shockingly modernist (will I write absurdist?) artistic choice, the protagonist is has neither gender nor even a face. It is this chapter which, I fear, may harm the novel’s chances of obtaining a wide audience; for the reading here is slow and difficult and the lay reading public has yet to fully appreciate that great Literature should be difficult, almost painful, or slightly nauseating. This would be a tragedy, for the character development that unfolds in the following chapters of High Yield Embryology is nothing short of miraculous!

The protagonist starts off genderless, faceless, and in all other ways completely flat. But through description of the tiniest and most intimate details, the narrator matures the protagonist with astounding rapidity. With painful internal development, the previously cold and heartless protagonist touchingly develops a warm heart and grows enough of a spine to begin personal development. In later chapters, the protagonist gets up enough nerve to move independently. In the final scenes, the mother enters the narrative, bringing in issues of dependency that are resolved only by a painful separation.

I simply cannot overstate the power and beautify of High Yield Embryology. The narrator’s exploration of what it means to be human is so organic, so visceral that it will expand the reader’s understanding of the world.

High Yield Embryology is available from these booksellers





4 Responses to “Book Recommendation: High Yield Embryology”

  • This is your wittiest post yet. Unfortunately, I think only those of us that know the wonders of the Yigh-Yield series will truly “get it.”

    Ask yourself, “Would Brent Weeks find this funny?”

  • Blake,
    Very thorough. I’m also working on some reviews for a few books I’m reading:
    1. Sensation & Perception 8th ed by Goldstein (contains some nice vivid imagery and colorful prose)
    2. Fundamentals of Psychology 3rd ed by Kosslyn & Rosenberg (wow, there are some messed up characters in this book!)
    3. Methods in Behavioral Research 10th ed by Cozby (good example of experimental literature)

    Keep up the good work!

    • Wonderful! I’m still chuckling as i think of a review of Fundamentals of Psychology. I’d have to forward that to most of my neuroscience and psychology friends…not to mention more than a few family members 😉

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