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A Case of Curiosities

Kurzweil comes out with about a book a decade. This doens’t stop him from being one of the more popular authors around, especially since his latest book came out only last year. I picked up his first book -- not knowing he had written two total -- and was blown away by it as much as I was with his last one. The story begins with an artifact that someone wins at an auction, a box with some weird stuff in it. The stuff turns out to be the historical footnotes of the life of a peasant-turned-engineer from the late 1700’s. The book then sets out detailing his life.

It’s not until you get to the end of the book that you realize how truly masterful it is. The protagonist has a friend, a bit of a hack writer, who is always thinking if gimmicky books to try and sell to the general population. His last attempt that we read about is a book about clock mechanisms that has 360 pages [for degrees in a circle] but only ten chapters [because the French attempted to mandate a sort of metric time for the poulace prior to the revolution] and you realize with a suddeness, that this is the exact number of pages and chapters of the book you have just finished, more or less [the less being explained in one of the last paragraphs of the book]. Like Kurzweil’s other book, the characters and the mechanical fabrications of this book are rich and worth a close examination.