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During the past fifteen years, one of the most vexing issues facing fledgling transitional democracies around the world--from South Africa to Eastern Europe, from Cambodia to Bosnia--has been what to do about the still-toxic security apparatuses left over from the previous regime. In this now-classic and profoundly influential study, theNew Yorker's Lawrence Weschler probes these dilemmas across two gripping narratives (set in Brazil and Uruguay, among the first places to face such concerns), true-life thrillers in which torture victims, faced with the paralysis of the new regime, themselves band together to settle accounts with their former tormentors. "Disturbing and often enthralling. "--New York Times Book Review "Extraordinarily moving. . . . Weschler writes brilliantly. "--Newsday "Implausible, intricate and dazzling. "--Times Literary Supplement "As Weschler's interviewees told their tales, I paced agitatedly, choked back tears. . . . Weschler narrates these two episodes with skill and tact. . . . An inspiring book. "--George Scialabba,Los Angeles Weekly
Pronged ants, horned humans, a landscape carved on a fruit pit--some of the displays in David Wilson's Museum of Jurassic Technology are hoaxes. But which ones? As he guides readers through an intellectual hall of mirrors, Lawrence Weschler revisits the 16th-century "wonder cabinets" that were the first museums and compels readers to examine the imaginative origins of both art and science. Illustrations.
Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technologyby Lawrence Weschler
Writing with great style and humor, Weschler guides the readers through the Museum of Jurassic Technology and through the mind of its curator, David Wilson, a man of unusual imagination who mounts exhibits such as spore-inhaling ants, bats deploying ultraviolet frequencies, peach-pit carvings, and other exhibits that seem the manifest definition of bizarre.
Shuttling between cultural comedies and political tragedies, Lawrence Weschler's articles have throughout his long career intrigued readers with his unique insight into everything he examines, from the ordinary to the extraordinary.Uncanny Valley continues the page-turning conversation as Weschler collects the best of his narrative nonfiction from the past fifteen years. The title piece surveys the hapless efforts of digital animators to fashion a credible human face, the endlessly elusive gold standard of the profession. Other highlights include profiles of novelist Mark Salzman, as he wrestles with a hilariously harrowing bout of writer's block; the legendary film and sound editor Walter Murch, as he is forced to revisit his work on Apocalypse Now in the context of the more recent Iraqi war film Jarhead; and the artist Vincent Desiderio, as he labors over an epic canvas portraying no less than a dozen sleeping figures.With his signature style and endless ability to wonder, Weschler proves yet again that the "world is strange, beautiful, and connected" (The Globe and Mail). Uncanny Valley demonstrates his matchless ability to analyze the marvels he finds in places and people and offers us a new, sublime way of seeing the world.
From the master chronicler of the marvelous and the confounding-author of Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder-here is a much-anticipated new collection of more than twenty pieces from the past two decades, the majority of which have never before been gathered together in book form.Lawrence Weschler is not simply a superb reporter, essayist, and cultural observer; he is also an uncanny collector and connector of wonders. In Vermeer in Bosnia, whether he is reporting on the aftermath of the Yugoslav wars (and noticing, for example, how centuries earlier Vermeer had had to invent the peace and serenity we so prize in his work today from a youth during which all of Europe had been as ravaged as Bosnia) or dissecting the special quality of light in his beloved hometown of Los Angeles, Weschler's perceptions are often startling, his insights both fresh and profound.Included here is Weschler's remarkable profile of Roman Polanski-written years before the release of The Pianist, yet all but predicting the director's confrontation with the Holocaust in that film-alongside an equally celebrated portrait of Ed Weinberger, a young designer crushed and yet hardly bowed by an extreme form of Parkinson's disease. Here is Weschler limning his own experience as the grandson of an eminent Weimar-era composer, and then as the befuddled father of an eminently fetching daughter. Here is Weschler on Art Spiegelman, David Hockney, Ed Kienholz, and Wislawa Szymborska.Here, in short, are some of the most dazzling pieces from Lawrence Weschler's own brimming cabinet of marvels.