Literature: The Invention of Everything Else

“Lightning first, then the thunder. And in between the two I’m reminded of a secret.” -opening lines of The Invention of Everything Else

Down and Out on Invention of Everything ElseIf you’re at all fascinated by science, you’ll be interested to know that a fictional book about real-life inventor Nikola Tesla’s last days was published earlier this month (Houghton Mifflin). Samantha Hunt’s The Invention of Everything Else brings to life a story of the talented (but often overlooked) inventor of radio by telling about his fictional meeting with a young hotel chambermaid named Louisa. Besides radio, Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) invented radar, remote control, fluorescent lighting, the x-ray, the AC motor, the Tesla coil, and much more. But despite his brilliance, most Americans don’t learn about Tesla in school, and while he was alive, the inventor was not particularly well known. Instead of capitalizing on his work, he gave away his patents, believing that his inventions belonged to the whole world. In The Invention of Everything Else, chambermaid Louisa encounters the destitute and virtually forgotten inventor in 1943, as he is living in one of Hotel New Yorker’s rooms on the 33rd floor, and they strike up a friendship based on their shared love of pigeons. This book’s chapters alternate between Tesla and Louisa, whose stories develop within a narrative that also includes several other eccentric characters: Arthur (a brainy young man who remembers details from Louisa’s past), Azor (a man who has spent the past two years building a time machine in Far Rockaway, Queens), and Louisa’s father (a man who aspires to fly away with Azor in said time machine). While reading this book, be prepared to let your imagination run away with the story. Hunt toys with time and voice, and she succeeds in resurrecting one of the world’s greatest inventors who may have otherwise been left forgotten.

Click here to read my feature-length review of this book, which ran in Denver’s Rocky Mountain News on Friday, October 22, 2008. Thanks! And enjoy…       

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One response to “Literature: The Invention of Everything Else

  1. Hi Traci,

    I saw your review in the Rocky Mountain News today (I also write reviews for them) and wanted to invite you to a party NewWest.Net is sponsoring for journalists and writers in Boulder on Monday, February 25, at Trilogy Wine Bar from 6-9 p.m. I couldn’t find out how to contact you from your blog, so I thought I’d leave this as a comment. Email me for more details!

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