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The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt
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Feb 11, 12

bookshelves: fiction-mainstream
Read in February, 2012

THE INVENTION OF EVERYTHING ELSE. (2008). Samantha Hunt. **.
The novel has an interesting premise, but the delivery was faulty. It’s the story of the last days of Nicola Tesla, and the friendship that developed between him and a chambermaid that worked at the New Yorker Hotel where he spent the remaining part of his life. Tesla, to tickle your memory, was a great inventor who did not receive credit for much of his work because he didn’t reduce most of it to practice. He is credited with the invention of Alternating Current, Radar, Radio, and a host of other basic technologies. When we meet Tesla, the author provides a brief biography of his past life, fully interspersed with must only be fanciful recreations of his childhood in Serbia. The past doesn’t seem to matter too much to the author; she wants to get right to the friendship that develops between Tesla and Louisa, the maid. Tesla’s peculiarities are fully exploited in this novel, with large sections devoted to his work that has nothing to do with the story itself. He was at the stage, at age 86, where his thinking had become less than rational. His current project, run out of his hotel room, was to learn to communicate with pigeons. Althuogh the author tries to have us get a closer look at Tesla and his mental workings, it mostly doesn’t work. The author seems to lose track of where her story might be going by introducing extraneous situations on a frequent basis. Her aging father enters into the story by believing in a time machine. He does so because he thinks that that is the only way he can see his dead wife again. A character, Arthur, is introduced into the story, claiming he was one of Louisa’s classmates in grade school and recounting several instances of her actions to convince her. Despite his stories, which were all true, Louisa has no memory of Arthur. Is he a traveller from the future? As I said, the premise was good, but the author seemed to major in tangents.
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