Ottessa Moshfegh : Life Externalized

Ottessa Moshfegh writes about people who feel almost too realistic. In her novel Eileen and in most of the short stories in her collection Homesick for Another World, Moshfegh offers her readers an eyeful of awful. Her characters are compulsive, addicted, selfish, and peculiar, but – they are not weird, even in the story titled “The Weirdos.” They are (unfortunately) like people you might know, or at least know as well as you might wish. But when you are intimately in their heads and in their lives via Moshfegh’s startlingly direct prose, you understand just what kind of monsters you are dealing with – or might be yourself.

moshfegh-eileenEileen seems straightforward, but requires a bit of unpacking. Eileen is a caretaker and partner for her alcoholic father. Their home is a sty, but it might be an improvement over the boy’s prison where she is a secretary. A now-aged Eileen from the present tells the story of her younger self, and leaves no unpleasant detail unmentioned. She’s going nowhere, fast. Eileen meets Rebecca at her job, and quickly finds herself headed somewhere. Rest assured their destination is not what you will expect. What starts out as a compelling, can’t-look-away portrait of ugly reality veers off the road and into uncharted, exciting territory. While Eileen is an intense novel with all the detail and involvement you expect from the form, prepare to read it in one or two sittings.

moshfegh-homesick_for_another_worldHomesick for Another World might actually last a bit longer, simply because you’ll only need to read one or two stories at a time. Grifters, cheaters, losers – the characters in these stories might hope to rise to such a level, and never succeed. But Moshfegh gives us direct access to their thoughts in prose that is gripping and so awful in its honestly that all we can do is to bark our laughter out loud. Plot summaries of the stories might be misleading. Moshfegh writes about the mundane with an intensity that feels like science fiction.

All of Moshfegh’s work derives its power from her direct prose. It almost feels as if she’s hot-wired your brain to theirs. It feels real. But there’s another side to this. Moshfegh shows us what her characters are thinking and they’re generally things that many of us only think about, and in most cases we might prefer not to. So by writing so clearly about her characters’ thoughts she successfully externalizes them.

This is not unusual – but Moshfegh’s unique skill is that what in any other novel might look and feel and actually be simple introspection is, in her work, externalization. And while there is not a whiff of genre anywhere in the vicinity, Moshfegh’s brand of externalizing introspection feels quite fantastic to read, in all senses of the word. The title story for the collection arguably has some aspects of the fantastic, but Moshfegh’s handling of them is purely her own. Which is to say, rough and ready.

Eileen and Homesick for Another World are perfect examples of books that read quick and easy, but carry a lethal load of language. Ottessa Moshfegh’s prose is captivating and intense. Pick up the books in a store and you’ll not leave without them. But it’s not quite, not quite, as if Moshfegh will make you think thoughts you’ll wish to forget. You’ll remember these books all right, when you look in the mirror and are able to see the humanity boiling in your own brain.

ottessa_mossfegh-2017-largeFor all that I wrote here about how much I enjoyed her work, I suspect that it will only take a few moments of listening to her voice for readers to make up their minds. You can hear her prose voice in her speaking voice. She’s plain spoken to the point of being hilarious. The interview begins with a brief bit of chat – a minute of so of warm up that I might usually elide. It felt right, in this case, to leave it in. Then, we start with a reading from her short story “The Weirdos” – and things get strange. Follow this link to download my interview with Ottessa Moshfegh – or just hang out here with us to hear about the punk rock club in China.

Sabaa Tahir Lights A Torch Against the Night: Flights of Fantasy

Second world fantasy set in pre-technological worlds comes with a built-in set of problems for both the writer and the readers – pacing. It is quite possible to write a novel where the characters just walk from one set piece or place to the other. That gets old fast, and you can end up feeling like you’re reading a dull travelogue with bits of violence wedged in.

That is absolutely not a problem with Sabaa Tahir’s A Torch Against the Night and An Ember in the Ashes. It’s rather the reverse and not a problem at all so long as you have cleared some time to read. These are stripped-down, raw, fast-paced fantasy chase thrillers. Tahir does a lot of smart re-invention of the genre with these novels, weaving themes of ethnicity, immigration and romance into a tight action narrative.

The structure of the novel is key to its enjoyment. Tahir alternates chapters between key characters. In A Torch Against the Night we meet Laia first, as her family is torn asunder in political upheaval. We meet Elias next; he’s a Mask, training at the Blackcliff Military Academy. They’re on opposite sides of a conflict that has an immediate, urgent feel. Power is being wielded by the cruelest and richest, in their own interest. An Ember in the Ashes adds a third character to the mix, offering yet another perspective.

At the prose level, and the immersive-reading-experience level, both of these books read like well-written, psychologically-informed thrillers. Tahir keeps the action close and lets the world speak for itself, laconically. She’s pretty much all show, no tell, and as a result, understanding the nature of the world she’s building becomes a plot tension point. It’s detailed, with a nice mixture of medieval realism with a mere soupcon of the fantastic – at least at first. As we dive deeper into the world, the weird starts to come out of the woodwork. It’s nice to see that she’s mining more than the usual mythologies, drawing most interestingly from middle-Eastern mythos. But she’s not just working with supernatural elements; the novel has a bit of science fiction as well. The result is a world that feels more well-rounded.

sabaa_tahir-2016-large.jpgA cast of well-drawn characters propels the novel. Laia, Elias, and others (best discovered in-story) are written with a compelling immediacy. Tahir creates a world that is very different from ours, but one that directly and indirectly addresses ours. Given that this is a second-world fantasy, it offers the best of both worlds – gritty realism, thrilling action, and an imagined world where the story unfolds.

Ultimately, both A Torch Against the Night and An Ember in the Ashes offer readers an exhilarating mix of exciting narrative, muscular prose set in a thought-provoking world. Balancing the power of optimism with a dark and gnarly conflict, Tahir evokes emotions we understand in a world we’ve never encountered. Back in our world get some new shadows, and some new light.

<a name=”ttrms” id=” ttrst”> </a>Here’s a link to download the lightning-round interview with Sabaa Tahir, or you can listen at your desk by clicking below.

And here is a link to download my in-depth conversation or take a vacation in another world by listening below.

 

Douglas Preston Follows Story to Story to The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

It might seem almost obvious. A lost city in an unexplored jungle. Explorers, living and dead. High tech informing an almost impossible trek. Every element of a great story is there. But there are lots of elements and lots of stories. How might one architect all of this material into a single book? Douglas Preston’s The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story reads like lightning even as it pulls together the remarkably complicated threads of what prove to be a series stunning stories. In the moment, you’ll not want to put the book down. Afterwards, you might wonder, how did he get all that stuff in there?

preston-the_lost_city_of_the_monkey_godThe Lost City of the Monkey God may cover a lot of ground, but it doesn’t feel that way. Preston wisely weaves in the history with the story of his own exploration of an unexplored tract of jungle in Honduras, called Mosquitia (not named for the wildlife). For centuries, we learn, men have been looking for a “White City” or a “Lost City of the Monkey god” in this jungle. The explorers themselves are a diverse bunch, ranging from charlatans and liars to scientists, scholars and soldiers. Nobody found the city, nobody brought home the gold, beyond Preston, who mines their stories well.

The story of the expedition that Preston finds himself tied up in is even more fascinating than the history. The conflicts he explores in the field of archaeology between engineers and historians are on-going to this day. Make no mistake, Preston was not at first eager to join this crew. Like many, he doubted that any huge city could have existed where we currently see what appears to be untouched primal jungle. That’s pretty much what the science has been telling us, until recently. But Preston and his gang (along with David Grann) have put the lie to that notion.

Readers should be aware that they may get their full annual ration of snakes, bugs, and the slimy, deadly terrors of the jungle. And just when Preston thinks to have escaped, it seems that, as it happened in Relic (which he co-authored with Lincoln Child), something has followed him out of the jungle. Alas, it is not the were-jaguar portrayed in a sculpture found in the city.

douglas_preston-2016-sfcWe like to think we know pretty much everything about the earth, that we have conquered land and sea and sky. But as Douglas Preston demonstrates in The Lost City of the Monkey God there is a lot we do not know. And what we do know seems to be scattered willy-nilly everywhere. Douglas Preston brings it all together in a taut, exciting book that reads like a novel but has the raw power of truth. This book offers peril and terror, but also awe and wonder. There are fresh sights for us to see. Here is a book to open your eyes.

Before you open your eyes, or even after, you will want to hear the author speak. His enthusiasm, the echoing aftershocks that he is still experiencing from his journey are right there for you to hear. You might listen to about three minutes of this, run out, buy and read the book, and then listen to the rest. You might find yourself downloading the file from this link and listening with fixed awe to Preston. You might also click below and never go back. Welcome to Mosquitia. Netting is not optional.

David Grinspoon Sees Earth in Human Hands: Learning to Drive a Planet

It’s easy to be overwhelmed. There are so many moving parts, so much to keep track of – but we humans, having brought the planet this far, have demonstrated our ability to craft unintended change. Now, astrobiologist David Grinspoon says in his new book Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future, it’s our turn to take control and carry on with intended change – because, as his study of the planet Venus suggests, the end results of not doing so may well be terminal.

grinspoon-the_earth_in_human_handsWith Earth in Human Hands, Grinspoon looks outward, to the stars and the exoplanets, and then back, to the Earth. Make no mistake, this is a page-turning work of speculative non-fiction, offering readers the thrills of science fiction stories that are grounded in what we actually know at this moment. A huge part of that knowledge, as described by Grinspoon, involves the idea of “deep time” in order to help readers obtain the right perspective.

But that’s just the first of many fascinating stories that Grinspoon spins as he takes readers on speculative journeys to the past, the future, and even the present, informed by the latest science as well a strong engaging narrative voice. Grinspoon does particularly well with the Gaia hypothesis and the trickster-style researchers who originated it, weaving together the story of scientists and science to help us achieve and keep perspective. In this context, he discusses the plusses and minuses of geoengineering, as well as some of the proposed solutions to climate change.

Grinpsoon does not confine himself to the human race however. His sense of fun is infectious as he dives into contact with extra-terrestrial intelligences, and the potential for intelligent life on earth. After all, we’re on our way to the sixth of seventh mass-extinction, following in the footsteps, so to speak, of the microscopic life that brought about its own demise and created oxygen in life’s first go-round on Earth. If we blow ourselves up (and/)or kill off pretty much everything, then perhaps intelligent is not the best description for humanity.

david_grinspoon-2016-insetThe most enjoyable aspect of Earth in Human Hands is Grinspoon’s voice. He really has a talent for writing non-fiction that makes you want to turn the pages as fast as possible, mark them for future reference and read the book aloud to those around you. He can and does look at the terrifyingly difficult coming years with a clear eye – but this is in no way a depressing book. While he sees the difficulties with clarity, he also sees the opportunities as well. We may become mature, in spite of everything we have done.

When I spoke with David Grinspoon, and you can hear it easily, there is simply a sense that humans, having invented science, can invent everything else we need to succeed. You can follow this link to download our conversation or listen below.

Jonathan Lethem Dissects A Gambler’s Anatomy : Lethem & Rickels Inside The Blot

Reading is by definition a referential act. Every book you pick up harkens to every one you’ve ever read before. Jonathan Lethem’s latest novel, A Gambler’s Anatomy, ups the ante in this regard. With Laurence A. Rickels, he’s written a companion volume titled The Blot. A Gambler’s Anatomy stands alone as another exciting entry in Lethem’s oeuvre, different from most of what he’s written before, and uniquely weird. But readers looking for the truly unique and inspiring reading experience can read both books. Between The Blot and A Gambler’s Anatomy, you’ll be able to re-frame not just the reality created by the writers, but your own as well.

lethem-a_gamblers_anatomyIn A Gambler’s Anatomy, a charming unsettling young man named Alexander Bruno is in Singapore, steeling himself for another victory in high-stakes baccarat. Bruno has lots on his mind; money problems, luck issues, a childhood marked by abandonment and abuse, but it’s still alarming to him when he passes out during a game. Worse still is the news; the cause of “the blot,” a sort of hole in his vision, will require brain surgery. Bruno, who has long suffered from telepathy, is worried the surgery might harm his gift, which rarely works, alas, when he needs it to. Still, he not so happy messing with his brain.

Lethem, on the other hand, is having an absolute hoot messing with the readers’ brains. A Gambler’s Anatomy is a tense, disturbing novel, a Kafkaesque plunge into nightmare and identity. Lethem’s mordant humor is present, of course, and it is darker than dark as he balances readers on the knife-edge of terror and laughter. Lethem, who has always written with an undercurrent of existential horror, takes the next logical step here into body horror, in a scene of mid-boggling bravura. A Gambler’s Anatomy will keep you in terrorized with wonder as tangled emotions and re-jiggered bodies are forcefully re-assembled by the cruel machineries we make so well for ourselves.

And A Gambler’s Anatomy would be enough by itself. That said, pick up The Blot by Lethem and Laurence A. Rickels to have your prose world upended again, as the crisp sentences of Lethem’s novel are annihilated in the onslaught of intense discussion between Rickels, a critic and Lethem. They met at a conference on the work of Philip K. Dick, which is an excellent clue as to the direction their conversation about the novel pursues. Suffice it to say that the discussion is fast, wild, and filled with the kind of prose fireworks you will want to read aloud but would be wise not to. Even if you haven’t read the novel, reading this exegesis will make you feel as if you have been cleaning your brain with a wire brush.  And reading both, you’ll probably be able to feel that piece of the rock that Lethem is holding in the photo above – an inspiration for the work [From Berlin!] that he discusses in our interview.

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The upshot is that either The Blot or A Gambler’s Anatomy is a wonderful, wild read on its own. But put together, they offer readers what was easily one of the most intriguing and unusual and powerful reading experiences of last year. Physically, they make a nice pair; The Blot certainly has an eye-catching cover. Imagine discussing neurosurgery and self-image with Jean-Paul Sartre and Franz Kakfa to a backdrop of special make-up effect shots from David Cronenburg movies. Don’t look away. Hang on every word. Your very life depends on it.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jonathan Lethem to discuss his latest book at length.  Here’s a link to our long-form interview; or listen below.

Veronica Roth Will Carve the Mark: From Dystopia to Space Opera

Veronica Roth is a perfect example of a new generation of science fiction writers, who grew up “in a world,” so to speak, where science fiction has always been popular fiction. This has not always been the case. Having wowed the world with her dystopian Divergent quartet (three novels plus a collection of short stories), she’s returned to craft a new universe in Carve the Mark. This time, she leaves the Earth behind to find star-crossed lovers in an interplanetary war.

The setup starts on the planet Thuvhe, where Akos and his family are headed for a sort of celebration. Cue in “the current,” which runs through all living things, and is handily visible so as to make them more, well – readable. The connection provided by the current is unsurprisingly a two-edged blade, especially in the hands of Cyra. Her power is a kind of “counter-empathy,” and it is as political as it is personal.

Roth introduces us to her new world in medias-res – world-building is left to readers, who will enjoy putting together the puzzle pieces as the characters are built, layer-by-layer. Roth lets the readers join her characters as they discover their own world anew. Readers looking for a new take on space opera need look no farther. Think of Carve the Mark as space opera’s grandchild. EE “Doc” Smith would be proud!

Readers who want to meet Veronica Roth as she tours need but follow this link to a list of her appearances.  She’s coming to my area via Bookshop Santa Cruz – if you’re looking for a place to get [this and all of her] books signed, BSC is a great choice.

Here’s a link to my brief interview with Veronica Roth; I hope to have more for you next week! Or you can listen below!

Edward R. Tufte’s Visual Explanations: In Truth, Beauty

We must communicate with one another in order to live. How we do so shapes our lives. Being aware of how we present and process data is our best hope of staying in front of our stories, as opposed to catching up and trying to explain. There are, of course, entire professions and swathes of life that offer advice and opportunities to learn or sharpen our communication skills. You can fill libraries with the books. In those libraries, you will find four books by Edward R. Tufte; The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, and Beautiful Evidence. They will be the most beautiful books you will see – perhaps ever. Part and parcel with all that beauty, expect to find the sort of truths you can use on daily basis.

“You have to stay close to the empirical, observed world, and it has to have some credibility, some truth value…” Edward R.Tufte

Tufte’s strength is perfectly summarized in the title of his first book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. To say that the book is well-written is to miss much of the point, because the book is not so much written as composed, which is to say that every element on every page, every illustration, space, word, graphic, or chart is perfectly integrated, placed and printed so as to convey the most meaning with the most pleasure and the least effort. Four books, some seven-hundredish pages, and every single page is a frameable work of art, even when the pages themselves are discussing framed works of art.

In these four volumes, Tufte tells you everything you need to know to communicate effectively using all the tools now at your disposal, thanks to Moore’s Law and the ever-increasing specifications of displays, software and hardware. That said, Tufte is not about technology. For Edward Tufte, the equation that matters is, “In truth, beauty.” Crafting the proper framework for gathering the information, organizing the input and careful analysis of the data are requirements for presenting it in a manner that is both beautiful and effective.

tufte-visual_explnationsMake no mistake about it, these are books that you will refer to early and often. They please the eye with every page and make you think with every paragraph and every mind-boggling juxtaposition that Tufte creates. In Visual Explanations, Tufte devotes a chapter to magic as a means of conveying disinformation. If you understand how to do something backwards, doing it forwards stands a better chance at becoming intuitive behavior.

Thankfully, Tufte, an accomplished sculptor and artist, does not simply send down a message from his mountain every seven years or so. He spends that much time printing the books himself so he can achieve levels of clarity that are simply stunning. When he’s not composing a book, Tufte teaches a one-day course that includes all four books and a tight performance that drops the essentials into your brain. It’s the kind of class you never forget, because you will use what you’ve learned pretty much any time you have to communicate. It’s happily sticky stuff. His take on a graphic associated with the Napoleonic wars will definitely turn your head around.

For those who want to find out more – and it is well worth your valuable reading time – look at Tufte’s website where you can order the books and spend way too much money on prints. You can also find out where and when he’s teaching. It is more than worth the money and time; Tufte is teaching the skills we will need when our computers catch up with paper, which as he told me in our interview – is not yet – but perhaps closer rather than farther away.

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Tutfe and I talked about the durability of books as a technology, and using graphics as characters, his sculpture, and some of the details in his books and seminar. I have to thank Jeffrey Freymann, who introduced me to Tufte’s work many years ago, and Moira Gunn, who introduced me to Edward Tufte while I was waiting at KQED. And of course, I have to thank Edward Tufte, not just for his great work, books I can look at for the rest of my life, an amazing course that has already helped my presentations – but also for the great conversation you can download by following this link, or listen to below.

George J. Mitchell and Alon Sachar Chart A Path to Peace: A Pragmatic Prescription for the Middle East

It’s been just about a hundred years since the “West” (at the time, the “victors” of World War I) enacted a solution that caused more problems that it ever solved. Britain, France, America, we all got in the game and divided the Middle East into countries that suited our notions – and ignored centuries of history and habitation. The war’s over, they have their land – what could go wrong?

mitchell_sachar-a_path_to_peaceHindsight can be 20/20, and when deployed with the grace and economy found in A Path to Peace: A Brief History of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations and a Way Forward in the Middle East, by George J. Mitchell and Alon [pronounced “alone”] Sachar, it can be revelatory. In this case, brevity is your friend. Mitchell and Sachar dig in and serve up a remarkably complicated history in a tight narrative. The upshot is to make perfectly clear the policies and events that have turned one of the central sources for spirituality in this world into a hot zone of continuous conflict.

The writing here is as crisp and precise as you might hope for from the best of our greatest diplomats. The unending terror and violence, in context, are comprehensible even as they set back the peace process. The authors show a thorough understanding of all sides in the conflict, and their recommendations are low-key and do-able – with a will to peace.

Make no mistake. This is not going to be easy; the authors write, however, with a hopeful feeling that goes a long way towards making compromise thinkable and attractive. The authors clearly believe that sacrifice is the best and bravest path forward. “We believe there must come a time when both parties are willing to take the painful and politically difficult steps that will be necessary to reach an agreement.”

For all the disharmony that surrounds us, the authors are quick to note that US Policy on the matter has remained the same through both Republican and Democratic presidencies. We are indeed the United States on this point. The most powerful aspect of this book is the quiet persistence embodied here. Both of these men have worked hard to bring about a change they may not see in their lifetimes. This book makes it easy for us to understand why, and share their hope.

Meeting these two men in person was the kind of honor that does not even get the proper air time during our conversation. I was quite happy to hear George Mitchell mention Scott Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East when we spoke. It’s the perfect follow-on to this book. And this book is the perfect follow-on to this conversation with George Mitchell and Alon Sachar together. Here’s a link to download the conversation. Or just listen below.

Douglas Preston Tours The Lost City of the Monkey God

I have many quite specific book-buying memories. Among them is visiting Bookshop Santa Cruz in 1995, where I found a book I had to have by a team of writers I’d never heard of – Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I loved the hell out of that book, and the others that followed. The Agent Pendergast novels and both writers’ other work, fiction and non-fiction, were reliable jolts of pure reading pleasure.

I must admit then, that my first thought about The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story was, “Hmmm — sounds like a non-fiction version of Relic without the monsters … [presumably].” This makes sense, because Relic itself was originally conceived of without monsters. And the first thing I asked Douglas Preston about when I spoke to him via Skype before his appearance next week at Book Passage in Corte Madera was whether or not it might end up as fodder for a Pendergast gig.

preston-the_lost_city_of_the_monkey_godBut my main point of interest in this mini-interview was the intersection between technology and archaeology. On one hand we like to think that all the tech in the world has made it all known to us. The Lost City of the Monkey God makes it clear that there are still things we can discover. I talked to Preston about lidar, and the advent of the 21st Century Gentleman Explorer, and how well that image and those actions played for academics and archaeologists. The bottom line is that everyone wants the tech, but it is delicate, expensive and bits are still classified.

Here’s a link to Preston’s tour dates. He has a fantastic voice and he’s a great guest. See him if you have a chance, and even if you miss him, the bookstores where he appears will likely have signed copies of his books.

Here’s a link to our conversation, or you can listen below. Stay tuned for an in-depth interview and review. And even if you find poisonous, tiny critters particularly terrifying, don’t worry. You’re not likely to meet them outside o the Lost City. And if you do, well … at least you will have been on the cutting edge.

Matt Simon Brainwashes Caterpillars With Wasps: Evolution’s Extremes

Evolution is a process that is by definition invisible – it happens too slowly. It’s not just the speed though, it’s the results, all around, that seem, well, underwhelming. Evolution does what works, which is generally unspectacular. Except in those species when it is forced to some extreme, in which case, evolution’s shovel-ready face is made plain. Matt Simon is your man so far as evolution’s extremes go. His book The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar: Evolution’s Most Unbelievable Solutions to Life’s Biggest Problems is engaging, fun to read, well and thoroughly illustrated. It’s non-fiction horror at its best.

simon-the_wasp-that-brainwashed_the_caterpillarEach section of the book offers up stories and illustrations of critters that have come to an unusual and generally creepy evolutionary solution to the usual problems; feeding, avoiding being fed upon, mating, protecting your young – all the things humans do, but we generally do them in (what we, at least, consider to be) a more straightforward manner. While some of these weekday monsters might be known to readers, for example the Angelerfish, or the, uh… wow these are all freaking weird! And generally under-advertised, so to speak. All the better to creep you out and fill you with wonder.

The one-two punch of great prose writing and great illustrations should sell this book to all but the most weird-averse readers. Simon is a great presence. He has a low-key sense of humor that is always kept in perfect check. He knows how to tweeze the reader’s distress-level with an alarming ease. Each critter is covered in just the right length of verbiage. He’ll digress on occasion, but is always on point. It’s like having the great fortune to accidentally run into the most interesting person at the party.

The illustrations are a key part of the book’s power. Vladimir Stankovic’s work is beautifully drawn even when he is showing us something truly unpleasant, like the Tongue-Eating Isopod. It’s conceptually horrific, explained in dismaying detail by the ever-cheerful Simon, and as drawn by Stankovic, both cute and creepy. That is not a target that is easily conceived of, and these two bull’s eye the hell out of it in this book. It’s really fun, so much so that you may not realize that your consciousness is being colonized by Simon’s take on evolution.

matt_simon-2016Moreover, on a sheer readability scale, The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar: Evolution’s Most Unbelievable Solutions to Life’s Biggest Problems is most likely an 11. It’s impossible not to pick this up and peruse through it to the degree where it will give even the Internet a run for its money on your attention. And rest – or unrest, as the case may be – assured that you will hit the Internet afterwards, to find out more. It’s possible this book itself may be an argument for evolution. The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar is in some ways a precursor of the literary world to come. Which is to say that they haven’t killed off the book yet, though they may have tried. Instead, they made it stronger.

Hear my lightning round interview with Matt Simon by following this link, or listening below.

Or go for survival of the fittest with the in-depth conversation by following this link or listening below.