Synopses & Reviews
A beloved car becomes a piece of us—a way back into our histories or forward into our destinies. For Emerson Tang, the only son of a prominent New England family, that car is a 1954 Beacon. A collector—of art and experience—Emerson keeps his prized possession safely stored away. But when his health begins to fail, his archivist and caretaker is approached by a secretive French painter determined to buy the Beacon at any cost. They discover that the Beacon has been compromised and that its importance reaches far beyond Emersons own history.
Soon they run into another who shares their obsession: the heir to the ruined Beacon Motor Company, who is determined to restore his grandfathers legacy. These four become unlikely adventurers, united in their aim to reunite the Beacons original body and engine, pitted against one another in their quest to claim it. Each new clue takes one closer to triumph, but also takes these characters, each grieving a deep loss, toward finding missing pieces of their own lives.
A fast-paced ride through the twentieth century—to modernism, fascism, and industrialism, to Manhattan, a German zeppelin, a famed concours in Pebble Beach, and a road race in Italy—The Afterlife of Emerson Tang takes us deep into our complicated automotive romance. A novel of strangers connected across time, through a car that is so much more than a car, it asks us what should be preserved, what memories to trust, and whether or not some of the legacies we hold most dear—including that grand contraption, the automobile—can be made new again.
"In Hunt's (The Seas) overstuffed and uneven novel set in New York, circa 1943, an aging Nikola Tesla lives at the Hotel New Yorker and cares for (and chats with) pigeons while planning what could be his boldest invention yet. He forges an unlikely friendship with Louisa Dewell, a 24-year-old chambermaid at the hotel who also keeps a pigeon coop. The book alternates between Niko's reminisces of turn-of-the century Manhattan and Louisa's current domestic dramas; Niko revisits old grievances concerning the usurpation or dismissal of his many inventions, and Louisa gets ensnared in her zany father's mission to travel back in time and reconnect with his dead wife via a time machine built by his lifelong friend Azor Carter. Assisting in the scheme is Louisa's mysterious beau, Arthur Vaughn, who may or may not be from the future. Although many events are drawn from Tesla's life, he and his peers, including Thomas Edison and John Muir, are cartoonish. Likewise, the city backdrop is drenched in rosy nostalgia (even Hell's Kitchen is a quaint neighborhood). Each individual plot thread has potential, but the cumulative effect is dulled by an unwieldy structure." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Hunt's poetic capabilities are enormous, her flight of words up to the task of taking us where she wants us to go. If you allow yourself to take off soaring with her, you will not be disappointed by the view." Alice Evans, The Oregonian
"Oddly charming and pleasantly peculiar, Hunt's novel offers a unique perspective on hope and imagining life's possibilities." Booklist
"Lucky for us that Samantha Hunt, in her highly imaginative second novel...is as obsessed as a writer can be about Tesla. We're made aware of this in the book's stunning opening pages, which take off in a voice finely crafted to carry Hunt's history-steeped tale." San Francisco Chronicle
"Peppered with literary quotations, historical figures, and subtle eroticism, this book will please readers who enjoy experimentation and uncertainty in both their fiction choices and their worldview. Recommended." Library Journal
"The facts of Tesla's life are fascinating, and...it's hard not to conclude that Hunt had her heart in the right place with this book, that her highest concerns are with wonder and love, with questions of survival." The Chicago Tribune
"There's much food for thought here and some very beautiful prose. Unfortunately, plot developments...come perilously close to being ludicrous....A bold but failed attempt to combine magic realism and intellectual fiction." Kirkus Reviews
"An engaging portrait...and a poignant one of Tesla...Theres much food for thought here and some very beautiful prose." Kirkus Reviews
“Hunt (The Seas) delivers a breathtaking novel that is both difficult to classify and impossible to ignore." Library Journal
"Oddly charming and pleasantly peculiar, Hunts novel offers a unique perspective on hope and imagining lifes possibilities." Booklist, ALA
“Inspires both awe and envy…Hunt seems to achieve this blend effortlessly…making it more remarkable still with her own offbeat sensibility." Bookpage
"A New York City chambermaid sparks a friendship with oddball inventor Nikola Tesla in Samantha Hunt's dazzling novel." Vanity Fair
"Sophisticated pastiche of science fiction, fantasy, melodrama, and historical anecdote...It all adds up to a precocious math of human marvel." Elle
"Former real-life scientist Nikola Tesla befriends a fictional hotel chambermaid in Samantha Hunt's ingenious work of historical fiction." Marie Claire
"Hunt's magical new novel is a love letter to one of the world's most remarkable inventors…For a moment…everything seems possible." The Washington Post
“[Hunt] puts her considerable talents to work…Tesla's story…is crafted with an intensity...that makes the heart beat faster.” Los Angeles Times
"Full of vivid imagery, sounds, memories…this novel is a sweet story of just how normal it is to be different." Boston Globe
“Hunt's history-steeped tale…reminds us that science necessitates creativity, which also, of course, is the essence of literature." The San Francisco Chronicle
"In her vivid reimagining…Hunt pursues the links between science and creativity and storytelling and invention to their logical extreme.” New York Magazine
“Glorious…pages of prose: daring and delicious, perfectly calibrated, fresh but not raw, original but neither off-putting nor disconcertingly strange." The Chicago Tribune
“[INVENTION is] a smart, colorful novel about aspiration and wish fulfillment in a world…engineers cant control." - The Believer
"Hunt's fascination with language is unmistakable, resulting in beautiful, intimate observations . . . elegant, inspired." The Village Voice
"Marvelous…one wishes these scenes would never end…[it] takes its readers back to a kindler, gentler New York.” - LA Weekly
"Hunt weaves the stranger-than-fiction facts…into an engaging novel…that crackles with the possibility and promise of scientific innovation." - Seed
"An electrified, magnetized concoction that pleases, teases and dazzles…takeoff soaring with her, you will not be disappointed..." - The Oregonian
”The author is rapturous, vividly in love with her subjects and her characters." - New York Observer
"[Hunts] novel might be 2008's 'Special Topics in Calamity Physics'…soulful and scientific at the same time." - Velocity Weekly
“Hunt weaves history and imagination to create a seductively original world…” -- Heidi Julavits, author of The Uses of Enchantment
“A highwire performance by a soulful and wildly intelligent writer.” -- Rene Steinke, author of the NBA-nominated Holy Skirts
“You hold in your hands an important, fun, educational, magic read." -- Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng
"Asks us to re-imagine the future through our knowledge and appreciation of the past.... [and] celebrates the excitement of progress.... I cannot recommend this book enough." - Design Talks "Moving, psychologically complex and passionately written....Champa delves into individual souls and emotions in her riveting, layered tale that holds its surprises right up until the end." - The Providence Joournal
"In these pages, Paula Champa conceives the ideal automobile: a total fusion of power and beauty. Her stunning first novel likewise brings those qualities into perfect balance. The raw emotion of her story and the restrained elegance of her writing together make for a literary tour de force."
—Jonathon Keats, author of The Book of the Unknown"A vintage 1954 Beacon car is the axis around which four characters revolve, trying to accept and resolve each of their sorrows in Champa’s vividly detailed debut...[an] intellectual yet deeply human examination of what it means to live as well as to die."--Booklist "Compelling."--Publishers Weekly"Ms. Champa’s story is uimately about time, memory and change, hope and regret. It is wrapped around an old-fashioned mystery. It is also about what a car can mean emotionally to its owner and driver." - New York Times Wheels Blog
"Constructed like a mind-bending puzzle. Only at the end are the characters' true relationships to one another and to the coveted Beacon revealed.... Beth Corvid's quest to restore a classic racing car before her employer's death is both a cleverly written, complex mystery and a meditation on mortality." —Shelf Awareness
"This novel brings together a love of vintage cars with more profound thoughts on life and death... [O]nce it takes hold the book will keep you captivated until the surprising ending... If you enjoy a thoughtful and challenging story with a few "aah-ha" moments when suddenly the author’s true intent shines forth, this will be a very satisfying read." — TheCalifornian.com
“The story, at its heart, is a lush character study that examines universal themes of life, death, grief, and change through an automotive lens….a real page-turner.” — Driveshaft
“[T]he book’s insights about art and design are stunning at times. Champa suggests that if design inhabits our lives at all, then we have a responsibility to become custodians to our own potential for encountering beauty.” — Style Weekly
"This mesmerizing foray into postwar Germany
by celebrated author Beyer is both a singularly researched work of historical fiction (with an ornithological bent), and a postmodern examination of the nature of memory
.... Beyer paints an engrossing and terrifying picture of Dresden during the war and later under the Communist yoke
. Yet it is Beyers complex interpolation of daily memories—sometimes fused or distorted in a Proustian vein—complete with highly detailed ornithological observations that give this work its exquisite
--Publishers Weekly, starred "Challenging, beautifully written metafiction—to some extent based on the life of Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz—examines the workings of science and the nature of academic competition...Beyer ranges over the decades from Nazism to communism to a reunited Germany to reveal our ability both to remember and to recast unpleasant memories in a more favorable light, and to show what people must hide in order to survive."
A wondrous imagining of an unlikely friendship between the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla and a young chambermaid in the Hotel New Yorker where Tesla lives out his last days.
From the moment she first catches sight of the Hotel New Yorker's most famous resident on New Years Day 1943, Louisa obsessed with radio dramas and the secret lives of the guests is determined to befriend this strange man. As Louisa discovers their shared affinity for pigeons, she also begins to piece together Tesla's extraordinary story of life as an immigrant, a genius, and a halfhearted capitalist.
Meanwhile, Louisa faced with her father's imminent departure in a time machine to reunite with his late wife, and pleasantly unsettled by the arrival in her life of a mysterious mechanic (perhaps from the future) named Arthur begins to suspect that she has understood something about the relationship of love and invention that Tesla, for all his brilliance, never did.
The Invention of Everything Else luminously resurrects one of the greatest scientists of all time, Nikola Tesla, while magically transporting us a la Steven Millhauser and Michael Chabon to an early twentieth-century New York City thrumming with energy, wonder, and possibility.
Hunt's novel is a wondrous imagining of an unlikely friendship between the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla and a young chambermaid in the Hotel New Yorker, where Tesla lived out his last days.
From the moment Louisa first catches sight of the strange man who occupies a forbidden room on the thirty-third floor, she is determined to befriend him.Unbeknownst to Louisa, he is Nikola Teslainventor of AC electricity and wireless communicationand he is living out his last days at the Hotel New Yorker.Winning his attention through a shared love of pigeons, she eventually uncovers the story of Teslas life as a Serbian immigrant and a visionary genius: as a boy he built engines powered by June bugs, as a man he dreamed of pulling electricity from the sky.The mystery deepens when Louisa reunites with an enigmatic former classmate and faces the loss of her father as he attempts to travel to the past to meet up with his beloved late wife. Before the week is out, Louisa must come to terms with her own understanding of love, death, and the power of invention.
The Invention of Everything Else immerses the reader in a magical mid-twentieth-century New York City thrumming with energy, wonder, and possibility.
New York City thrums with energy, wonder, and possibility in this magical novel about the life of Nikola Tesla.
It is 1943, and the renowned inventor Nikola Tesla occupies a forbidden room on the 33rd floor of the Hotel New Yorker, stealing electricity. Louisa, a young maid at the hotel determined to befriend him, wins his attention through a shared love of pigeons; with her we hear his tragic and tremendous life story unfold. Meanwhile, Louisa discovers that her father—and her handsome, enigmatic love interest, Arthur Vaughan—are on an unlikely mission to travel back in time and find his beloved late wife. A masterful hybrid of history, biography, and science fiction, The Invention of Everything Else is an absorbing story about love and death and a wonderfully imagined homage to one of history's most visionary scientists.
A driving, panoramic novel of four strangers whose personal struggles with grief become interconnected through their quest to reunite the body and engine of a vintage car.
A book about a great man, a giant in the world of science with all-too-human flaws, Kaltenburg is a beautifully detailed novel from a major German writer that brings to life both an individual and a whole world: Ludwig Kaltenburg and his Dresden Institute for research into animal behavior.
"Challenging, beautifully written "--Library Journal
Hailed by The New Yorker as one of the best young novelists and recipient of Germanys most prestigious literary awards, Marcel Beyer returns with a brilliantly wrought novel that brings to life both an individual and a whole world: the zoologist Ludwig Kaltenburg, loosely based on Nobel Prize-winner Konrad Lorenz, and his institute for research into animal behavior.
Hermann Funk first meets Kaltenburg when still a child in Posen in the 1930s. Hermanns father, a botanist, and Kaltenburg are close friends, but a rift occurs. In 1945, fleeing the war, the Funks perish in the Dresden bombing, and Hermann finds his way to Kaltenburgs newly established institute. He becomes Kaltenburgs protégé, embracing the Institutes unconventional methods. Yet parts of Kaltenburgs past life remain unclear. Was he a member of the Nazi Party? Does he believe his discoveries about aggression in animals also apply to humans? Why has he erased the years in Posen from his official biography?
Through layers of memory and experience Hermann struggles to reconcile affection and doubt, to make sense of his childhood, even as he meets a woman with family secrets of her own.
About the Author
Samantha Hunt has spent four years researching Nikola Tesla, in the course of which she has appeared in several Tesla-related documentaries, visited Tesla fanatics across the country, and explored the five subterranean floors of the still-standing Hotel New Yorker. She is the author of the acclaimed first novel The Seas, and her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and McSweeneys and on This American Life. She recently received the first-ever "5 under 35" award from the National Book Foundation.