Littoral, the blog of the Key West Literary Seminar, has plenty of coverage to check out from last month’s event: audio of a lecture by Allan Gurganus, photos of Gore Vidal in a good mood, and more quips and reports. I’m especially amused by a comment by Samantha Hunt, who during the KWLS explained the genesis of her 2008 novel about the life of Nikola Tesla, The Invention of Everything Else:
[S]he was at a museum exhibit that included a reference to Alessandro Volta, realized she didn’t know much about him and should look him up when she returned home. But once in front of her computer, she found herself instead looking up Nikola Tesla, the man who invented radio and AC electrical technology and is at the center of her novel. She said she thinks she looked up Tesla because she was thinking of “the 90s hair metal band.” “I actually sent them copies of the book, but never heard back from them,” she said.
Bloomberg News catches up with Samantha Hunt, author of The Invention of Everything Else, a novel about the final days of Nikola Tesla. (It’s a great premise that I wish was better executed.) The end of the conversation between her and Bloomberg’s Manuela Hoelterhoff:
Hoelterhoff: What drew you to Tesla?
Hunt: I never had heard about him through 20 years of an American education. And so, when I finally did stumble on him, I was quite surprised to learn that he had invented AC and the wireless.
And then I learned that when he was 8 years old, he created an engine that was powered by June beetles. And I thought, “Oh, boy, this man is so creative.”
He had plans to build a ring around the equator so that just by staying stationary, you would be able to travel around the world in 24 hours. And plans that almost seem like dreams. He was thinking about wind power, thinking about solar power, thinking about batteries that are far, far more efficient than the batteries that we even have here 110 years later. He had plans to photograph thought. He thought, well, thought is electrical energy, and we record electrical energy all the time. Why shouldn’t we be able to photograph it?
Richard Krawiec responds to the foofaraw regarding Gordon Lish‘s editing of Raymond Carver, making the case for a strong-willed editor.
Curtis Sittenfeld‘s Prep, like every popular novel that’s about adolescents and speaks to adolescents about the things that concern adolescents, is deemed unfit for adolescents.
The Millions compiles a list of favorite short-story collections. Good stuff, but: No Faulkner? No Hammett? This guy deserves a slot on the list too.
My brief review of Samantha Hunt‘s historical novel about the last days of Nikola Tesla, The Invention of Everything Else, is online at the Chicago Sun-Times site. I had high hopes for the book, but…
The Millions has a nice round-up of some of the most-anticipated books of 2008. (Anticipated by whom? Poster C. Max McGee, pretty much, though many of the books qualify as obvious consensus picks.) Among the ones on the list that caught my interest are Adam Langer‘s Ellington Boulevard (Langer’s Crossing California, along with Ward Just‘s An Unfinished Season, was one of my favorite Chicago-set novels of recent years); Samantha Hunt‘s The Invention of Everything Else (currently on my to-be-read pile for an upcoming review); and Andrew Sean Greer‘s The Story of a Marriage (I’m a sucker for San Francisco novels).