Book: Hard-Wired By Joseph Dobrian


Katherine Perkins

5 Stars

Verbal ecdysis is one of Joseph Dobrian's strengths, and he brings it here.

The central issue of Hard-Wired is the mind of Andy Palinkas and his struggles: with his existence as an individual in society, with maintaining his personal sense of authenticity, and with, y’know… /boy/ stuff. And the intersection of the inner life, personal integrity, the overreach of the state, and quite literal boy stuff is laid out right in the opening. No attempts to bait and switch, the reader is told what they are in for.

Andy is one of those literary characters for whom it is not that unlikely for the reader, in reading their various exploits, to possibly want to smack them upside the head once or twice. But the intimacy with which he opens up in this story is just enough that that impulse doesn’t lead one to cast the book aside. Verbal ecdysis is one of Joseph Dobrian’s strengths, and he brings We end up knowing Andy too well to throw the exposed baby out with the awkward bathwater.

This work on the youthful psyche of Andy Palinkas (a psyche Andy himself believes will dominate his destiny) also further expands Dobrian’s fictional universe of State City, shown in his novel Ambitions.


5 Stars

Better Than "Crime & Punishment."
I'm not kidding.

Although I don’t read as much as I did in the past, recently I had the opportunity to read Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” and Joseph Dobrian’s work “Hard-Wired.” In virtually every aspect, I preferred Dobrian’s work. While some of Dostoevsky’s writing may have been lost in translation. None of Dobrian’s was. The imagery of Dobrian’s work was much more familiar to me than was that of the Russian master. Iowa City and New York City (Brooklyn) weigh heavy on my mind and heart, as compared to St. Petersburg, Russia.

But the principal reason I preferred “Hard-Wired” was because Dobrian explained the “free will” aspect of the human condition much better in his epilogue after more than 370 pages depicting it. Not only do I feel more in tune with Dobrian’s analysis of the human condition, as compared to Dostoevsky’s but I think he explained his analysis in much more lucid detail, with greater sincerity… and with significantly more diligence…


Andy Palinkas is a modern Don Quixote. He’s unattractive, and mistrustful of others. He’s obsessed with a girl he can’t win. He embarrasses himself at sports. Plus, as Andy observes, “Having a younger brother who can beat you at anything: That has got to be the worst thing in the world.” As he grows up in State City, Iowa, in the mid-1960s, Andy copes with life by making himself the hero of his own saga. He creates alternative realities in which he’s powerful, accomplished, brave—and sometimes vengeful. To his own amazement, by his senior year at State City High, Andy has become one of the cool kids. Then, he faces a decision that might cost him the status and admiration he’s earned. Will Andy stick to his principles, and fight? Hard -Wired will resonate with any adult who remembers the humil- iations, the painful humor, and the occasional victories of adolescence.

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