Brewer, Gene 1937-
BREWER, Gene 1937-
Born July 4, 1937, in Muncie, IN; son of John (a factory worker) and Osie (a homemaker; maiden name, Miller) Brewer; married Karen Schultz (a medical librarian), June 22, 1963. Education: DePauw University, B.A. (cum laude), 1959; University of Wisconsin, Ph.D., 1964. Politics: "A shameless Liberal." Hobbies and other interests: Running, flying, chess, reading, music, theater, playing with the dog.
Molecular biologist. University of Wisconsin, Madison, postdoctoral fellow, 1964-67; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, member of faculty, 1967-69; Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, member of faculty, 1970-79; freelance writer, 1979—.
Arthur C. Clarke Award nomination, 1996; Palm Digital (e-book) Award, 2001.
K-PAX, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1995.
K-PAX II: On a Beam of Light, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.
K-PAX III: The Worlds of Prot, Bloomsbury USA (New York, NY), 2002.
K-PAX (play; adapted from author's novel), produced in London by ACT Provocateur International, 2004.
Prot's Report to K-PAX, Bloomsbury USA (New York, NY), 2004.
K-PAX, the Trilogy, including Prot's Report to K-PAX, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2004.
K-PAX was adapted by Charles Leavitt as a film, Universal Pictures, 2001.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Creating K-PAX, a memoir; K-PAX II: The Return of Prot, a screenplay; and Mano, part four of the "K-PAX" series.
Before becoming a novelist, Gene Brewer worked as a molecular biologist, studying DNA replication and cell division for fifteen years. Although his first novel, K-PAX, was rejected by over forty publishers before St. Martin's Press took a chance on it in 1995, the book became well known after the first installment in the series was sold to Lawrence Gordon and Universal Studios. The film, released in 2001, stars actors Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges. The book has now appeared in fourteen languages and twenty-one countries.
In his debut novel K-PAX, Brewer introduces readers to Dr. Gene Brewer of the Manhattan Psychiatric Institute. The story centers around Brewer's treatment of a patient called prot, who believes he is an alien from the peaceful planet K-PAX. In this capacity prot makes dispassionate observations regarding such things as religion, education, and human ignorance, and has a profound effect on the other patients at the hospital. Throughout the course of prot's treatment—Dr. Brewer has diagnosed him with multiple personality disorder—the "alien" prot actually ends up teaching his earthly doctor a thing or two about the beauty of life. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called Brewer's "gripping" fiction debut a "moving study of split-personality disorder" and praised the "matter-of-fact, clinical" perspective of the narrator, which "makes this touching and suspenseful story all the more convincing."
The "K-PAX" series has continued in several more novels. K-PAX II: On a Beam of Light continues to follow Brewer as he treats prot and his apparent alter ego Robert Porter, as well as two other personalities. William Beatty stated in a review for Booklist that the sessions between doctor and patient "offer a delightful, witty, often enlightened perspective on planet Earth and some of its social, medical, and political aspects." Beatty maintained, in closing, that fans of K-PAX "won't be disappointed by its sequel." In K-PAX III: The World of Prot, the nature of prot's true identity is finally revealed. A Kirkus Reviews critic summarized the final book of the trilogy as "gripping fantasy," and urged readers to "go for it."
Brewer told CA that his novel series is designed to be "social and environmental critique in the guise of fiction." He cited as his primary influence in writing the works of American novelist Kurt Vonnegut. Although he would like to hope that his novels might change the way human beings interact with one another, with the other species inhabiting the planet, and with the earth itself, he is confident that they will have no effect whatsoever on civilized behavior. The most surprising thing he has learned as a writer is that the decision by publishing houses to put out a novel is based entirely on financial considerations, not the quality or content of the material. His favorite, among his own novels, is Ben and I, and unpublished homage to Juan Ramon Jimenez's (Nobel Prize, 1956) Platero and I.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 1995, William Beatty, review of K-PAX, p. 1177; December 15, 2000, Wiliam Beatty, review of K-PAX II: On a Beam of Light.
Capital Times (Madison, WI), August 17, 2001, Rob Thomas, "Oft-Rejected Novelist Gets His Due, And More," p. A9.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 18, 1995, John R. Alden, "Fiction or Not, Brewer Stretches Your Senses."
Detroit News, May 20, 1995, Jon W. Sparks, "Heard Mentality: The Spy Beat and the Offbeat," p. D36.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2001, review of K-PAX; February 1, 2003, review of K-PAX III: The Worlds of Prot, p. 193.
Library Journal, March 1, 1995, Nancy Pearl, review of K-PAX, p. 102; June 15, 1995, Cliff Glaviano, review of K-PAX, p. 110.
New Scientist, December 16, 1995, Elizabeth Sourbut, review of K-PAX, p. 47.
Publishers Weekly, November 14, 1994, Paul Nathan, "The Road to 'K-PAX,'" p. 17; January 23, 1995, review of K-PAX, p. 60; February 12, 2001, review of K-PAX II: On a Beam of Light, p. 185.
Rocky Mountain News, March 11, 2001, Mark Graham, "Brewer's Series Offers Compelling 'Alien' Tale," p. E4.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 13, 1995, Dick Richmond, review of K-PAX, p. G4.
San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, March 12, 1995, Michael Berry, review of K-PAX.
Bloomsbury Publishing,http://www.bloomsbury.com/ (May 14, 2004).
Gene Brewer Home Page,http://www.genebrewer.com/ (May 14, 2004).
St. Martin's Press,http://www.stmartins.com/ (May 14, 2004).