News and Reviews

The latest adventures of Dr. Olaf. Check back for more news soon.

March 1, 2011
Doctor Olaf reviewed in Archives of Neurology

Elizabeth Alexander reviews Dr. Olaf for Archives of Neurology.:
Intelligent, imaginative, and consummately researched, Kirsten Menger-Anderson's novel Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain treats a family of physicians from the progenitor's arrival in New Amsterdam through his seventh great-grandson's death.
To read the complete review, see Archives of Neurology
December 1, 2009
Doctor Olaf reviewed in Psychiatric Services

Jeffrey L. Geller, M.D., M.P.H. wrote a nice review of Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain for the December issue of Psychiatric Services! Here's what he has to say:
The book Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain is the first novel by Kirsten Menger-Anderson, and it's a gem...The book is an adventure of medicine in historical context. The stories are fun; the history of medicine, fascinating.
To read the complete review, see Psychiatric Services
October 8, 2009
Wondering about your inner quack?

Check out Dr. Olaf's Facebook quiz and find out what kind of doctor you really are.
October 4, 2009
Central Coast Writers' Conference

I just returned from the Central Coast Writers' Conference, where I presented two courses: one on using dialogue and another on publishing short fiction. The conference was well attended and a lot of fun. It was a pleasure to participate!
August 22, 2009
Reading from Doctor Olaf at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference

I'll be reading "Salk and Sabin," one of the stories from Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain, at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, where I am the Fletcher Pratt Fellow in Fiction fellow. The reading should be available online. Links to come!
May 20, 2009
Doctor Olaf in the New England Journal of Medicine!

Kiki Benzon, Ph.D. reviews Doctor Olaf for the New England Journal of Medicine.
Although its focus is on the past, Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain casts a sobering light on contemporary medicine... Menger-Anderson has written an intelligent and humorous history of the science of brains--and the brains of science.
To read the full review, see, May 20, 2009.
May 11, 2009
Doctor Olaf on The Rumpus

Karen Laws writes about Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain on The Rumpus:
Her research into such fashionable therapeutic disciplines as phrenology and mesmerism not only helps readers understand what her characters understand, but contributes to a lively exploration of universal themes...when writers put their ardent love for researching a historical period at the service of plot and character development, the results can be vivid and intense, as well as thrilling.
To read the entire piece, see Research for Storytellers
April 23, 2009
Olaf is Book of the Week over at Wonders and Marvels

Wonders and Marvels, a "Community for Curious Minds who love History, its Odd Stories, and Good Reads," is giving away a copy of Dr Olaf, which was selected as this week's book of the week. I was thrilled to be included on the site! And to earn an honorary place among medical historians.
Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain is simply gorgeous. Menger-Andersen moves us from early-modern Europe to modern day New York with subtly and historical appreciation of the fine details that bring these moments together--and that make each uniquely different.
To read the entire piece as well as my guest post about Olaf and the research that went into the book, head on over to Wonders and Marvels. It's not too late to enter for the drawing for a free copy of Olaf!
April 20, 2009
Dr. Olaf reviewed in the Feminist Review

Heather Irvine reviews Doctor Olaf for the Feminist Review:
This book is eerie, smart, unique, and very delicately crafted... The novel was truly a pleasure to read and thoroughly researched.
To read the entire review, see Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain.
April 17, 2009
Olaf visits Sex, Food, and Writing

Donna George Storey, author of Amorous Woman, interviews me on her spicy and always entertaining blog, Sex, Food, and Writing. You can find more questions and answers (and publicity tips) in her monthly column for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, Shameless Self Promotion.
March 22, 2009
Olaf nominated for a Northern California Book Award!

I just learned that Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain has been nominated for the Northern California Book Award in Fiction! The nominations are:
* Lady Lazarus, Andrew Foster Altschul, Harcourt
* Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain, Kirsten Menger-Anderson, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
* The Delivery Room, Sylvia Brownrigg, Counterpoint
* Requiem for the Author of Frankenstein , Molly Dwyer, Lost Coast Press
* No One You Know, Michelle Richmond, Delacorte Press
I'm absolutely thrilled to be included in such company. The ceremony for the 28th Annual Northern California Book Awards will be held Sunday, April 19, at Koret Auditorium (San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin at Grove) at 1:00 p.m. The event is open to the public. Please come!
March 21, 2009
VJ Books likes Doctor Olaf!

I just came across this nice write up about Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain on VJ Books:
Menger-Anderson has not only done her research -- deftly documenting three centuries of medical quackery -- but she also knows how to weave a tale. She holds the reader spellbound from the first slice into a corpse's brain to the final probe of genetic research.
Visit VJ Books at
February 22, 2009
Olaf recommended by the staff at

As a big fan of Powell's bookstore (I always swing by when I'm in Portland), I was thrilled to discover that the staff have some nice things to say about Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain:
If Tracy Chevalier and Mary Roach got together to write a novel, Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain might be the result. This book is a wonderful collection of connected short stories and a history of medicine rendered through the lives of one extended family.
To see the online listing for Dr. Olaf click here, or--if you're anywhere near Portland--swing by to get some books and see Olaf on the shelves (I hear there are only two copies left in stock).
February 17, 2009
Olaf is a best-seller in Marin!

This week's list of the fiction selling best in Marin (compiled by the Marin Independent Journal ) includes Doctor Olaf (#10, after Roberto Bolano's 2666 and Lauren Groff's Delicate Edible Birds). Thank you, Marin! And thank you, Book Passage and Book Depot! To see the entire list, see Best-sellers for week of Feb. 15.

February 13, 2009
I'll be at the Central Coast Writers' Conference

I was invited to teach at this year's Central Coast Writers' Conference taking place Oct 2-3 in San Louis Obispo! I'm very excited and look forward to meeting YOU if you can make it. I'll be teaching two workshops (one on publishing short stories and one on dialog--I'll link to the descriptions once they're posted on the conference site. For now, you can read about last year's program here.

January 28, 2009
Doctor Olaf included in NYU's Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database

Doctor Olaf now appears in NYU's Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database, an " annotated multimedia listing of prose, poetry, film, video and art that was developed to be a dynamic, accessible, comprehensive resource for teaching and research in MEDICAL HUMANITIES, and for use in health/pre-health, graduate and undergraduate liberal arts and social science settings."

To read the entry for Dr. Olaf, see Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain.

January 20, 2009
Hear me on podcast

If you missed Marrie Stone's interview of me for "Writers on Writing," broadcast on KUCI back in November, you can catch the podcast here.

Also on podcast, is my conversation with Rick Kleffel over at Bookotron. Listen to Part 1: Writing "Reading Grandpa's Head and Part 2: The Family Tree.

For more author interviews and reviews, check out Bookotron and Pen on Fire.

January 14, 2009
Olaf recommended by Books on the Nightstand--in Podcast!

Books on the Nightstand--"illuminating conversations on books and reading"-- included a segment on Doctor Olaf in this week's podcast. Ann Kingman says the following about Olaf:
I heard from one of my bookseller friends...'have you read Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain, because if you haven't, let me know and I'm going to send you a copy.' And for a bookseller to offer to send me a book always means that I have to drop everything and read it because it's just that good... I absolutely loved it.
To hear the entire podcast, see Episode 22. Check out Books on the Nightstand on Facebook or Goodreads or at Books on the Nightstand.
January 12, 2009
Olaf in the Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reviews Doctor Olaf:
[A] fascinating look at how beliefs about medicine and New York society have changed. . . Each story is a tasty morsel.
For the complete review, see The browser: a quick look at recent releases.
January 3, 2009
Olaf selected as one of 2008's best books by the Sun Sentinel

Doctor Olaf is included in Chauncey Mabe's list of best books for 2008! Here's the link: Best books of 2008: Robert Olen Butler to Stephen King
December 18, 2008
Olaf joins Chicago Time Out's Top 10 for '08 and Seed magazine's picks for '08!

Today's self-indulgent search for Doctor Olaf revealed that the good doctor has been included in Time Out Chicago's Top 10 books for 2008 list, as well as Seed magazine's Picks for 2008. The Doctor is very honored to be listed with the likes of Mary Roach, Carl Zimmer, Tobias Wolff, and the other fine writers included in the lists.

December 12, 2008
Doctor O reviewed in the Boston Globe

Eric Grunwald reviews Doctor Olaf for the Boston Globe:
Darkly funny, often sad, frequently frightening, and sometimes hopeful...the product of a gifted literary writer.
To read the entire review, see Odd, intriguing stories of quacks and cures.

December 10, 2008
Doctor O reviewed in the Vancouver Voice!

Jack Booch reviews Doctor Olaf for the Vancouver Voice:
At the heart of the stories is a deep sympathy for the fallibility of the human condition. However damaging some of the characters prove to be (both to themselves and others), they are all comprehensible... a deliciously good read.
To read the entire review, see Gadzooks! The human brain!.

December 9, 2008
Doctor O is Shelf Life's pick of the week!

Doctor Olaf is "Pick of the week" in this week's Shelf Life column for the Boston Globe:
Christopher Castellani, author of "The Saint of Lost Things" and director of Grub Street, recommends "Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain," by Kirsten Menger-Anderson (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill): "Tracing 12 generations of doctors as they seek a cure for pain and madness, these linked stories masterfully combine the fascinating and utterly strange history of medicine with a colorful history of New York City. The characters are vivid and unforgettable; Menger-Anderson's sensibility is wholly original."
To read Jan Gardner's entire column, see Shelf Life.

December 4, 2008
Olaf is a staff pick at Inkwell Bookstore!

If you're anywhere near Falmouth, MA, swing by Inkwell Bookstore, where Olaf is a staff pick! From the blurb on the homepage:
This fantastic debut by Kirsten Menger-Anderson is the best book I�ve read in the past few months...It astonishes how the author is able to illuminate a person�s life, in all its pain and glory, in a mere twenty page chapter.
To book is also noted in the Inkwell Bookstore Blog.

November 30, 2008
Olaf in the New York Times

Francesca Mari reviews Doctor Olaf for the New York Times' Sunday Book Review:
Science is an elixir that sweeps characters under its spell. Yet the pace of [DOCTOR OLAF VAN SCHULER�S BRAIN] is driven as much, if not more, by the reader�s romantic appetite�by an itch to discover how each story is romantically resolved and connected to the long lineage.
To read the entire review, see Annals of Malpractice

November 24, 2008
Olaf appears in the Barnes & Noble Review and the St Louis Post-Dispatch

David Abrams writes about Doctor Olaf for the "Spotlight" section of this week's Barnes & Noble Review:
Menger-Anderson has not only done her research -- deftly documenting three centuries of medical quackery -- but she also knows how to weave a tale. She holds the reader spellbound from the first slice into a corpse's brain to the final probe of genetic research.
To read the full review, see the Barnes & Noble Review

Dale Singer reviews Doctor Olaf for the St Louis Post-Dispatch
In the fertile imagination of Kirsten Menger-Anderson, one after another of the descendants in the Steenwycks clan confront the medical miseries and mysteries of their day: animal magnetism, spontaneous combustion, neurasthenia, then the more modern maladies of polio, the side effects of breast implants and finally Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: mad cow... Readers will find Menger-Anderson's presentation of the case fascinating, but only rarely can the physicians heal themselves.
To read the entire review, see "Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain"

November 17, 2008
Olaf appears in last weekend's Chicago Sun-Times and the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Mark Athitakis reviews Doctor Olaf for the Sunday Chicago Sun-Times:
An ingenious and appealing collection of linked stories. . . . Menger-Anderson brings a writerly order to the messiness of our minds.
To read the complete review, see Quackery rears deadly head in family-linked collection

Chris Watson takes a look at Doctor Olaf in Book Briefs for the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
Within a highly atmospheric framework the ghosts of Robert Louis Stevenson, Washington Irving and Mark Twain haunt the stories, Menger-Anderson delicately angles toward a cautionary tale for the modern world
To read the complete review, see First, do no harm

November 12, 2008
Olaf reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle

Vanessa Hua reviews Doctor Olaf for today's San Francisco Chronicle:
A fascinating kaleidoscope ride across generations of physicians and their patients. The writing is vivid and entertaining, revealing lifetimes and worldviews in a few carefully chosen details. . . . The author's zest for the historical details shines throughout the collection.. . . . In this quirky, moving collection, Menger-Anderson illustrates the power of medicine - and family.
To read the entire review, see Hysteria, insanity--it's all in the family

November 10, 2008
Review in The Brooklyn Rail

Ben Mirov reviews Doctor Olaf for The Brooklyn Rail:
"An array of arresting, thoughtful, and touching moments."
To read the entire review, see the November Prose Roundup.

November 3, 2008
Review in the Richmond Times

Special correspondent Doug Childers reviews Doctor Olaf for the Richmond Times:

Kirsten Menger-Anderson's strikingly original "Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain" explores so many fascinating topics -- among them, animal magnetism, phrenology and spontaneous combustion -- that it might be best to begin with what it is not. Although it follows several generations of a single family from 1664 to 2006, Menger-Anderson's book is not a doorstop-sized epic. It leaps across the centuries in a mere 290 pages.

To read the rest of the review: A spellbinding meditation on medicine and madness

November 3, 2008
Interview on Lit Scribbler

Scott Doyle interviews me on his blog, Lit Scribbler. Questions range from social unrest, to the role of women in the book, to moral ambiguity. Check it out!

October 26, 2008
Olaf in Time Out Chicago and New York Press!

Two new reviews of Doctor Olaf in this week's editions of Time Out Chicago and the New York Press:

From Time Out Chicago:
"The scope of Menger-Anderson�s debut, combined with her intellectual curiosity when it comes to archaic medical procedures, is dizzying. Yet her prose is equally rich...It�s daunting to conceptualize how the hell she pulls it all off."
To read the full review, see the Book Review: Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain.

From the New York Press:
"Menger-Anderson presents ... the parade of New Yorkers through time, in all of their ambition and pain."
To read the full review, see the BRAIN READING: We diagnose a century-spanning medical manuscript .

October 26, 2008
Olaf in Sunday Sun Sentinel

Doctor Olaf is reviewed by Chancey Mabe in the Sun Sentinel:
A bold first collection chronicling a family of eccentric physicians. . . . Menger-Anderson has made an impressive debut.
To read the full review, see the Sun Sentinel website.

October 25, 2008
Olaf in Good Times!

Doctor Olaf is reviewed by Leslie Patrick in the Santa Cruz Good Times:
"Dr. Olaf Van Schuler�s Brain" by Kirsten Menger-Anderson is a sensational first novel that masterfully intertwines stories of medical fantasia with the intriguing history of New York City. Spanning 342 years and 13 generations of New York medical men (and eventually women once the mid 19th century hit), "Dr. Olaf Van Schuler�s Brain" is a fascinating take on the usual breed of historical fiction. . . . Menger-Anderson is in possession of a great literary skill.
To read the full review, see the Good Times website.

October 24, 2008
Olaf in Washington Post!

Today's Washington Post has a review of Dr. Olaf! Here's an excerpt from Carolyn See's review:
This little book isn't for everyone, but I sure loved it. If, like me, you've thought from time to time that under our controlled demeanors, our learning and good manners, we're all about one millimeter away from being stark, staring mad, and that the doctors who set up to treat us are probably just as crazy as the rest of us, if not more so, you'll sigh and smile when you read this.
To read the full review, see the Washington Post website.

October 23, 2008
Olaf appears on Largehearted Boy

Looking for music to accompany Doctor Olaf? Check out the song list I put together for Largehearted Boy, a music and literature blog. The piece appears as part of the site's Book Notes series, in which authors "create and discuss a list of songs that is in some way relevant to their recently published books."

October 2008
Olaf reviewed in SEED and ELLE

From the reviews:
"[This] savvy, sordid string of tales becomes a psychological spellbinder about the good, the bad, and the mad in all of us."
--ELLE (November 2008 issue, page 238)

"Menger-Anderson�s fictional take on the harsh realities of old-world medical science is at once grotesque and utterly compelling, as are her madcap characters, who desire so earnestly to find a cure�whatever the cost."
--SEED (October 2008 issue, page 91)

September 10, 2008
Olaf reviewed in Booklist

Doctor Olaf received a nice review in Booklist. From the review: The history of medicine and medical quackery, and one's family personal history within that context, conjoin in this startlingly effective, even educational, novel... For the most part, medical history cannot help but be interesting, and this author brings the subject to a fascinating glow; by extension, the story of the Steenwyck family becomes one thread of American cultural history.

September 4, 2008
Olaf mentioned in the SF Chronicle

Doctor Olaf was listed in the SF Chronicle (along with titles by John Updike, Diane Johnson, Walter Mosley and Alan Cheuse) as one of the "more compelling titles coming out in the fall." Woo!

August 26, 2008
Olaf heading to Santa Cruz

Doctor Olaf and I will be at Bookshop Santa Cruz on Monday, November 17. Reading at 7:30 pm.

August 15, 2008
Olaf heading to San Mateo

Doctor Olaf and I will be at "M" is for Mystery on Saturday, November 15. Reading at 2 pm.

July 16 2008
Olaf heading to LA

Doctor Olaf will be appearing in the New Short Fiction Series on November 14!

July 10, 2008
Olaf heading to Portland

Doctor Olaf and I will be at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) tradeshow in Portland, September 15-17.

June 2008
Reading at Keplers!

Doctor Olaf and I will be at Keplers in Menlo Park on Thursday, October 30 at 7:30. I'm thrilled to be appearing at such a great independent bookstore.

June 2008
DOCTOR OLAF's first review!

From the Publishers Weekly site:

Menger-Anderson's vivid and original collection follows several generations of New York doctors and charts the social and political forces that shaped New York City from the 17th century to today. Dr. Olaf van Schuler emigrates from Holland to New Amsterdam in 1664 and continues his study of animal brains. After he has a child by Adalind Steenwycks, each subsequent generation spins out in its own story, concluding with Dr. Elizabeth Steenwycks, the medical researcher daughter of Dr. Stuart Steenwycks, a plastic surgeon dying of a rare and fatal brain malady. Each generation applies the then current medical wisdom to tasks as varied as explaining a death by spontaneous combustion, resuscitating a boy's corpse and using phrenology to predict human behavior. In the early 1970s, Americans' obsession with their body image arises in the woeful tale of Sheila Talbot, 21, whose leaky breast implants hark back to the less-than-helpful medicine practiced in previous generations. The reader can follow how far medicine has advanced, but, surprisingly, note how human suffering and misery hasn't come such a long way. (Oct.)

March 2008
A Date has been Set

Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain will be here on October 21, 2008. The book can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

January 2008
The Doctor Is Coming...

Prepare for the good doctor's arrival! Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain will be published by Algonquin Books in Fall 2008.

January 10, 2008
The Mailing List is Here

The mailing list is up and running under the very fine Google Group technology! Please sign up to receive (occasional) updates about Dr. Olaf. Sign up today!

January 8, 2008
Blogging Dr. Olaf

I started a blog, Regarding Dr. Olaf, which chronicles promotional efforts and ideas, neat medical stuff, and the occasional philosophical musing. Come by!


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