The Cardboard Valise
by Ben Katchor
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Monday, May 02, 2011
I don't remember if I posted about it, but months ago I tried reading
Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives
by David Eagleman
which you'd think would be right up my alley...a Calvino-esque parade of various possible afterlives. I did not like it, however. I could barely get through it, which is pretty bad for such a short book. I skipped around. I found many of the "thought experiments" pseudo-profound and predictably unpredictable...if that makes sense. I was unmoved by the attempts at deepness and heaviness and ultimately annoyed. Maybe it's one of those things where it's too close to something I would want to do, so I am extra demanding and mentally re-writing it into "my" book. And it does have a few good moments, too, sure.
Anyways, I just saw an article in the New Yorker about the author, who is a neuroscientist and Guggenheim recipient. Seems like an interesting guy, and I'm going to try to learn more about his work. The book did in fact feel to me like how a scientific mind would try to write playfully. I wish I could put into words what writers like Calvino or Borges are able to do (even in translation) that "Sum" can't pull off, but I just don't have the time to sort that out right now.
In the NYer article Brian Eno makes an appearance--he liked this book and struck up an email conversation with Eagleman. Sigh!