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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (131 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Marco Roth Narrator: Michael Goldstro Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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This is a frank, intelligent, and deeply moving debut memoir.

With the precociousness expected of the only child of a doctor and a classical musician—from the time he could get his toddler tongue to pronounce deoxyribonucleic acid, or recite a French poem—Marco Roth was able to share his parents’ New York, a world centered around house concerts, a private library of literary classics, and dinner discussions of the latest advances in medicine. That world ended when his father started to suffer the worst effects of the AIDS virus that had infected him in the early 1980s.

What this family could not talk about for years came to dominate the lives of its surviving members, often in unexpected ways. The Scientists is a story of how we first learn from our parents and how we then learn to see them as separate individuals; it’s a story of how growing up quickly can slow us down when it comes to knowing about our desires and other people’s. A memoir of parents and children in the tradition of Edmund Gosse, Henry Adams, and J. R. Ackerley, The Scientists grapples with a troubled intellectual and emotional inheritance in a style that is both elegiac and defiant. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Marco Roth emerged from his privileged NYC childhood like one of Salinger’s precocious Glass children, but Roth’s family was ravaged by secrets, and from it he has written a gorgeous memoir no one will be able to put down—psychologically adroit, precise, moving, one of the best memoirs I’ve read in years.”

    Mary Karr, New York Times bestselling author

  • “This is the first intellectual autobiography that I’ve read by someone our age in the searching, nineteenth-century tradition of Edmund Gosse or Henry Adams: the autobiography equally of a reader and of a son, grappling with an inheritance that is both intellectual and emotional—an education for our times.”

    Lorin Stein, editor, Paris Review

  • “[A] powerfully forlorn debut memoir…Roth’s work is a ferocious literary exercise in rage, despair, and artistic self-invention.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Manages to recuperate for our time a certain kind of personal, idiosyncratic, private writing that moves at the speed of an actual very high intelligence. No one in our generation has written anything like this.”

    Keith Gessen, author of All the Sad Young Literary Men

  • “[An] affecting memoir…The book is, among other things, a cautionary tale of a hypertrophied intellectualism that overreacts to any faint threat of sentimentality or child’s logic, and threatens to choke off and kill any spontaneous show of pleasure, passion or affection…The Scientists is an act of love—a circumspect, often bitter, always studious love—and thus an act of both filial piety and defiance.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of Fall of Fall 2012
  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, September 2012
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A Library Journal Best Book of 2012: Memoir

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Lee | 1/9/2014

    " Read this in various locations (parks, rooms, trains) but finished the last few pages in the tiny park at First Ave and Houston about a block from where the author bounds up the subway steps toward the end. I expected to look up and see a 3D projection of Marco turn the corner and bound toward the Lower East Side, conspicuously alleviated, his self-portrayed nervous, self-defeating, self-consciously "intellectual" intelligence at long last chanelled toward specific purposes: this recently published, smart, moving "anti-memoir" about more than his father's HIV contraction and death by AIDS, and his work as co-editor of n+1. Anti-memoir, essay, or whatever it's called, it's a book very much about the interdependent duo of life and text. As such, it's also very much a book about writing a book, and therefore eligible for shelving among other books I've loved like Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D.H. Lawrence by Geoff Dyer, Concrete by Thomas Bernhard, Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas, and Bartleby & Co. by Enrique Vila-Matas, among others I can't remember now but will add once I do. I love books about trying (and predominately failing, of course) to write books -- it's probably my favorite literary subgenre, in part because the existence of the book itself suggests a successful struggle. This is an excellent example of the genre, although it's not quite as explicit as those mentioned above. The author traces intricate patterns on a sophisticated, elaborate, endangered foundation of artistic, tempermental, and intellectual inheritance. Hand-wringing involves living up to the expectations of privilege and one's talent and education, and at most matching (if not necessarily surpassing) one's parents' success. Like all worthwhile writing, essay or otherwise, this is primarily a Truth Hunt, with the author presented as fragile literary investigator with a nose for the facts, even/especially if they're abstract realizations achieved via strict scrutiny of serious Russian/European novels his father suggested he read. The investigation takes the author to Paris to study with Derrida (as he learns more about his father's history/orientation, the son's origin/center shifts); to Yale's PhD lit program to assay his father's favorite texts (including "Fathers and Sons") for traces of truth about father and son and to hash out anti-narrative ideas of identity with brilliant/sloshed fellow grad students; and to his ever-changing place of origin, the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It's an investigation that pays off for the author in that this is clearly a book that had to be written, and it's something that had to be written in proper and attentively phrased prose worthy of the author's cultural/famililal legacy and intense literary interest. But it also pays off for readers because of the clarity and intelligence of the prose, the general spirit of erudition lofted by engines of emotion (and vice versa), but also it succeeds as a simple high-lit whodunit (the conclusion of the case I won't reveal). All in all, a brave, intelligent, moving book for telling the story of discerning the truth about the father's tragic story while devising out of aesthetic and emotional necessity the book in the readers' hands. After alleviating his family burden by abstractly avenging his father's death, the son seems ready to trace new patterns across the interdependent pages of life and text. Alt title: "Portrait of the Public Intellectual as a Young Man." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Roland | 12/24/2013

    " Very good. I love an interesting family story which is told in 200 pgs. I enjoyed it very much. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Katie | 12/7/2013

    " At times this felt like two different memoirs that were only tenuously connected, but I enjoyed both of them. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Steve | 11/13/2013

    " For the most part I enjoyed this book although there were sections that I found a little over indulgent. "

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About the Author

Marco Roth was raised amid the vanished liberal culture of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. After studying comparative literature at Columbia and Yale, he helped found the magazine n+1 in 2004. Recipient of the 2011 Shattuck Prize for literary criticism, he lives in Philadelphia.