1. In the book''s epigraph, what traits does Virginia Woolf
include for her portrait of a "splendid mind?"
2. What parallels did you detect between Einstein''s life and
3. Driving Mr. Albert unfolds in some ways like
a detective story. What mysteries emerged throughout the book? Were
all of them solved?
4. Do you think Thomas Harvey''s true motivation in taking this
trip was to deliver the brain to Evelyn? Did he and Michael
Paterniti share any unspoken personal goals at this point in their
lives? What conflicts was Paterniti able to resolve through this
5. What did Part One tell you about the author''s upbringing?
Did his roots prepare him well for this episode in his life? Did
his roots in fact lead him to this episode?
6. How would you characterize Harvey''s take on history, as
revealed at stops such as the Harry S Truman Presidential
7. Does Harvey seem like a likely character for William S.
Burroughs''s circle? What portraits of a mind are delivered in
chapter 10, "Dr. Senegal, I Presume?"
8. What does the Garden of Eden tour indicate about human
perceptions of death and the spectrum of mortuary practices
undertaken in America? How did the museum''s mission differ from
9. In Chapter 14, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Meat,"
Paterniti theorizes that Kenji Sugimoto is really Harvey''s alter
ego. Do you agree?
10. When Harvey lectures before a rowdy audience in San Jose,
the experience captures many contemporary issues, including the
challenge of engaging students in science. What does Harvey''s
presentation teach us about reaching a new generation of potential
11. How did you react to Roger Richman and the concept of
Einstein''s image now being represented by a celebrity-licensing
12. What images of love and relationships are presented in
Driving Mr. Albert? How is
Paterniti affected by watching the reunion with Raye? What
observations does he offer about Einstein''s capacity for love?
13. Despite his occasional fears that someone may try to steal
the brain, Paterniti often told strangers about his cargo. What are
his expectations in making these revelations? How might you have
reacted if you had been one of the bystanders he told?
14. How does Evelyn''s perspective on the brain differ from the
others encountered in the book? How significant is the question of
whether she is indeed Einstein''s genetic descendant?
15. Discuss the science of Einstein in relation to the book.
What metaphors can you find for his notion that all energy has
mass? How is the theory of relativity reflected in the way time
unfolds for Einstein''s brain over its decades-long journey? If his
famous equation e=mc2 were applied to the events of your life, how
would you define the constant?
16. Reading the book as biography, what new facts did you
discover about Einstein''s life? How did this depiction of him
differ from the one perpetuated by pop culture?
17. What is it about the American road trip that made for such a
good medium in exploring Einstein and the story of his brain? Why
are so many memorable narratives set against the backdrop of the
open road with its chain motels and speed traps?
18. What does Einstein''s decision against surgery indicate
about his mind-set regarding medicine and mortality at that point
in his life? Do you think Einstein would have approved of Harvey as
the guardian of his brain?
19. Can a holy grail for intelligence (or any other similar
trait) be contained in a specimen such as Einstein''s brain? What
might a new generation of neuroscientists and pathologists (such as
Elliot Krauss, Harvey''s final beneficiary) be able to accomplish
with Einstein''s brain? What twenty-first-century pressures will