Archive for the ‘Charles Yu’ Category
Published July 2011
Where I got it: rec’d a review copy from Harper Voyager
Why I read it: have been following this doctor for a while, and I want to get my hands on anything Jeff VanderMeer is involved in
In homage of the Neatorama game that would have an utter nerdgasm if faced with Dr Lambshead’s Cabinet of Curiosities, I offer you the ultimate meta’d “What is it?” game: The Thackery T Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities itself.
Well, what is it? Exhibition? Self guided museum tour? Self referential satire? A massive inside joke? Eulogy? An unearthing of the madness of a harmless eccentric? I think a line from the movie Catch Me if You Can, (which coincidentally came out the year before Lambshead’s death) sums it up nicely: “people only know what you tell ‘em”.
Dr Thackery T Lambshead was born in 1900. Trained as a physician and scientist, but a true renaissance man, Dr. Lambshead travelled the world, collecting things here and there, making sure other things got back to their home countries, filling countless diaries with descriptions along the way. Briefly married in the 1950’s, the doctor may have never fully recovered from his wife’s tragic death in a car accident. Filling his home with collectibles and oddities, and occasionally culling the collection by permanently lending items out to museums, he became more and more eccentric. After his death in 2003, appraisers made their way through his home, discovering wonder after bizarre wonder, and trying to connect the objects to descriptions and references found in Thackery’s diaries. And then they happened on the secret underground bunker, a cabinet of curiosities that made the upstairs collection look like nothing more than a museum gift shop.
The Thackery T Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities then, is a collection of remembrances of the doctor himself, descriptions (and some outright guesses) of the strange items found in his home, and most importantly it is an attempt to discover what would cause a man to fill his home with such strange and disturbing things. With entries by Ted Chiang, Rachel Swirsky, Charles Yu, Michael Cisco and Reza Negarestani, Lev Grossman, Naomi Novik among many, many others, along with corresponding artwork and photographs, this is a book that’s more than a book. It’s a curiosity unto itself, an experience, a portal, a self guided tour through the mind of someone whose collection created him as much as he created his collection.
A few days ago I got an e-mail from my favorite public library:
The material you’ve requested is ready for pick up: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, by Charles Yu.
So I went and picked it up, grinning like a fool the whole time. Yesterday I read the first half of the book. It’s a fast-ish read, much stream of consciousness, social commentary, funny little digs at companies, good stuff. It’s also very, very depressing at times. To the point where half way through, I had to put it down. That’s gonna be an awkward book review to write. How do you say “this book was freaking depressing!” and make it sound like a compliment?
So I picked up Jasper Kent’s Thirteen Years Later instead. I always love me some suspense and scary bad guys. Got about 50 pages into it last night and early this morning. And as to be expected, it’s very good. No pun intended, but it sucks you right in.
Then, this morning I got one of the best e-mails I’ve ever gotten.
Better than Cory Doctorow’s response to my drunken fanletter, and almost better than Scott Lynch’s response to my drunken fanletter/love letter. BTW, awesome audio interview with Scott Lynch here. The man has a lovely voice, I wonder if he’s ever contemplated a career as a newscaster?
Back to this mornings awesome e-mail. It was from my favorite Public Library. It read:
The material you’ve requested is ready for pick up: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Read the rest of this entry »