Sunday, August 26, 2007

Beauty and the Beast

Jonathan Lethem
Brooklyn's literary mashup artist enters the Seed Salon to discuss truth and beauty with the Columbia physicist/novelist-Janna Levin

I love science and I love books in completely different ways, although similar themes recur in my scientific research and my writing. When it came to writing a book, even a popular science book like “How the Universe Got Its Spots”, I wanted to stretch beyond what I could possibly do in technical writing. I wanted to find a voice and tell a story. And when that was done, I wanted to go further and write a book structured on ideas that was purely narrative and hopefully beautiful. The mathematical ideas that influenced this new book are deeply moving and so are the real stories and I didn't believe a reader would get the same visceral impact from a pedagogical lesson. This book is being published under fiction but the kicker is that the core stories are entirely true. And those stories are stranger and more incredible than anything I could make up.

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