Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.
What is silence? In a series of short meditations, novelist and playwright John Biguenet considers silence as a servant of power, as a lie, as a punishment, as the voice of God, as a terrorist's final weapon, as a luxury good, as the reason for torture-in short, as an object we both do and do not recognize. Concluding with the prospects for its future in a world burgeoning with noise, Biguenet asks whether we should desire or fear silence-or if it is even ours to choose.
Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.
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John Biguenet is Robert Hunter Distinguished University Professor at Loyola University, New Orleans, USA. His publications include Oyster (Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers, 2002), The Torturer's Apprentice: Stories (Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers, 2001), Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida (co-editor with Rainer Schulte, University of Chicago Press, 1992), and Foreign Fictions (Random House/Vintage, 1978). He served as the first guest columnist of The New York Times (2005-2006). He has received an O. Henry Award for short fiction, and his nonfiction, poetry, fiction and plays have appeared in such magazines as Granta, Esquire, Oxford American, and Playboy. He has twice been elected president of the American Literary Translators Association.Review:
"When I realized I was making notes on memorable passages in Silence several times a page, I knew I'd found the book I've been needing to read. John Biguenet's extended meditation on silence is provocative, witty, moving, and truly golden." ―Valerie Martin, Orange Prize-winning novelist and author, most recently, of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste
"One virtue of silence is that it enables us to contemplate a work like John Biguenet's ever-fascinating new book. One virtue of his book-one of many-is that it does not go overboard in treating silence as a virtue."―Garret Keizer, author of The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want
"Taking us from the ancient world to Houston's Rothko Chapel to outer space, John Biguenet gives us a surprisingly boisterous tour of silence, stillness, and calm. Biguenet takes a space that looks at first glance like it is empty, as if it were, actually, defined by its emptiness, and he fills it with his erudition, his wisdom, his warmth, and his wit. We are lucky to spend this time rapt at his feet, to take all of this in." ―Jessa Crispin, editor-in-chief Booklust and author of The Dead Ladies Project
"The Object Lessons series achieves something very close to magic: the books take ordinary―even banal―objects and animate them with a rich history of invention, political struggle, science, and popular mythology. Filled with fascinating details and conveyed in sharp, accessible prose, the books make the everyday world come to life. Be warned: once you've read a few of these, you'll start walking around your house, picking up random objects, and musing aloud: 'I wonder what the story is behind this thing?'"―Steven Johnson, best-selling author of How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
"The Object Lessons project, edited by game theory legend Ian Bogost and cultural studies academic Christopher Schaberg, commissions short essays and small, beautiful books about everyday objects from shipping containers to toast. The Atlantic hosts a collection of "mini object-lessons", brief essays that take a deeper look at things we generally only glance upon ('Is bread toast only insofar as a human toaster perceives it to be "done?" Is bread toast when it reaches some specific level of nonenzymatic browning?'). More substantive is Bloomsbury's collection of small, gorgeously designed books that delve into their subjects in much more depth." ―Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
“Biguenet goes on to deal with our responses to tragedy, terror and crime, the relationship of children with toys and pets, Freud's views on the uncanny, gender roles in asking of questions and giving of advice ... and many other facets as he shows how silence is an integral part of our lives, even in ways we could have never imagined.” - Business Standard, India
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