Rereading Our Childhood

Rereading The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald

September 21, 2023 Mary Grace McGeehan and Deborah Kalb Season 1 Episode 10
Rereading Our Childhood
Rereading The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald
Show Notes

On this episode, Deborah and Mary Grace read John D. Fitzgerald’s 1967* novel The Great Brain, the first book in the series featuring John, the narrator, and his older brother Tom, the eponymous Great Brain, who wreaks havoc on their late 19th-century Utah town with his devious moneymaking ventures. Mary Grace, who did not read this book as a child, suspects that this sometimes harrowing read is Deborah’s revenge for making her read The Owl Service.

Here’s the Amazon review Mary Grace mentions that gives parents a heads-up about disturbing content in the book. (Note: Links may not show up on every platform. You can view them on 

Mary Grace recommends the Encyclopedia Brown books, featured on a previous episode, for fans of The Great Brain. She also recommends Two Are Better than One and Louly, by Carol Ryrie Brink, which are set in a small Idaho town in the early 20th century. Deborah recommends the Henry Reed series, also featured on a previous episode.

Here’s a June 2023 article by New York Times opinion writer Carlos Lozada, who was born in Peru, about his love for The Great Brain, which he read after his family moved to the United States. Lozada jumps into the article’s comments section to share more Great Brain love with readers.

The podcast is hosted by Buzzsprout at and is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other podcast platforms.

You can find Deborah’s author interviews on her blog, Books Q&A by Deborah Kalb, and you can find Mary Grace’s adventures in the 1920s on her blog, My Life 100 Years Ago.

This episode was edited by Adam Linder of Bespoken Podcasting.

*Mary Grace says incorrectly that it was published in 1969.

Podcast website at