A Box of Birds is the new novel by celebrated novelist, psychologist, and CMH affiliate Charles Fernyhough. A literary thriller set in the world of neuroscience, the novel is a clash between two of the predominant philosophical positions of our age. One is the materialist view that science has (or will have) all the answers and that ‘we’ are nothing more than bundles of nerves and chemical reactions. The other is the Freud-inspired position that underpins the culture of therapy: that the stories we tell about ourselves and our pasts have the capacity to change our future.
A Box of Birds is the story of a young neuroscientist, Yvonne Churcher, who has problems in the world beyond her lab. One of her students, James, is a dangerously attractive anti-science protestor who has set out to challenge her entire philosophy about how the brain works. His friend, Gareth, is a brilliant, unstable computer whiz who’s obsessed with the biochemical basis of memory. He tries to persuade Yvonne to get involved with a plan to stimulate memory artificially, which sets off a chain of events involving unscrupulous biotechs, stolen brain-mapping data and a strange brand of eco-terrorism.