Mr. Wizard: A Novel
by Jeff Wallach
















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Two brothers. One mother. One big question.

Two days before her death, Jenny Elliot suggests to her fifty-year-old son Phillip that, being half-Irish, he should be more careful about his drinking. Phillip, along with his brother Spencer, has grown up believing they were the fully Jewish-American offspring of Jenny and her late husband who died in the Vietnam War. Was his mother uttering some dementia-inspired fantasy, or was her true character shining through in her last moments to leave the brothers a clue to their real heritage? After her death, Philip decides to take a DNA test.  

The brothers set off on a genetic treasure hunt in search of who they really are—and what that might mean. Are they purely products of their genetics; or were they formed more completely by their social interactions and upbringing? Are they merely victims of randomness; or are they some combination of those factors? And who, exactly, is Mr. Wizard? 

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Everyone Here Is From Somewhere Else
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Where do you look once the search has ended?

Mysteries—and comedy—abound in this stand-alone novel that also continues the stories of Phillip and Spencer Elliot first explored in the novel Mr. Wizard. The middle-aged brothers undertake a quest inspired by their dead mother to discover "wonderful things"—the phrase used by archaeologist Howard Carter in describing his first look into King Tut's tomb.

Jenny Elliot, the boys' mother, was a budding Egyptologist as a girl, and the brothers consider themes of permanence, change, and legacy as they follow a trail to find their true place in the world—place being key as the brothers consider whether where you live is as crucial to who you are as such other obvious factors as DNA and upbringing.

The action takes place in the 1950s–1970s in New York as well as in present day New York, Ireland and Oregon, exploring the inner lives of characters—past and present—and concluding with events and connections that are as surprising as they are inevitable.