Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tesla, Pigeons, Slice...of Houdini Pie

Day 47 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project.
Paul is reading The Invention of Everything Else, by Samantha Hunt, who talks about her book in an interview in Slice Magazine.

It's historical fiction about Nikola Tesla, an eccentric Serbian inventor famous for his work with electromagnetism and the alternating current. Even though some people consider Tesla to be a prime example of the "mad scientist," Wikipedia reminds us that Thomas Edison wished he himself had recognized the true value of the alternating current.

But wasn't there a film about what can go terribly wrong with the alternating current? Yes, the film is The Prestige. But, whoa, thank you again, Wikipedia! There is a whole article there, separate from the biographical and scientific info on Tesla, reminding us about his importance in popular culture, from Superman comics to Disney to video games.

Not to mention how the alternating current can be used, or imagined, as a death ray!

Tesla was celibate and loved pigeons. (I've linked you to the paperback at Amazon, but Slice shows pigeon cover.)

Paul Auster in Moon Palace and Thomas Pynchon in Against the Day also used Tesla as a character in novels. And Lynn Pattison has a book of poems called Tesla's Daughter. (Although--see celibacy above--this is an imagined, figurative daughter.)

(Just as I am Emily Dickinson's great-great-great-great-granddaughter.)
Paul Michel, the reader above, has his own novel coming out soon, mentioned here earlier but now available for pre-order at Amazon, ready to ship around April 10, and available at the AWP Conference, which Paul will be attending. It's Houdini Pie, and is about buried treasure, among other things!

And I just read Paul's sweet story "Not the King of Prussia" in the current issue of Glimmer Train.


Kathleen said...

OK, way too freaky coincidences at work: I come to Babbitt's and see, stacked on the new nonfiction arrivals pile, Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney and, directly underneath it in the pile, Houdini!!!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss by Kenneth Silverman.

And my co-worker at Babbitt's here today, not the usual Julia but the fill-in Jo, reveals that a science fair project in her youth was a Tesla Coil. May your hair, too, stand on end!!!

These hardbacks can be had for $4 each. Wooee.

Susan said...

I have always loved Jung's theories of Synchronicity. If coincidences are meaningful, then perhaps there is an order to the universe after all. I like this. I like this very much indeed.