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Best of the Book Nook: Driving Mr. Albert, by Michael Paterniti


If I really like a book I will try to interview the author twice, once for the hardcover release then once again when the book comes out in paperback. I really liked the book "Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain" and I loved my initial interview with the author so when I had another chance to interview Michael Paterniti 19 years ago for the paperback it was essentially, forgive me for this, a no-brainer.

You see Michael had written about his experiences while driving across the country, from New Jersey to California, with the doctor who had essentially absconded with the brain of the eminent genius Albert Einstein after the autopsy was performed on him following his death in 1955. And they had the brain in the trunk of their car. At least most of it. Some of it had already been given away. A lot of people were interested in that brain. In fact they still are.

There are some amazing interludes in this tale. One of my favorites involves a stopover in Lawrence, Kansas and a visit with the bizarre Beat writer William S. Burroughs. For those of you who are familiar with Burroughs you might not be surprised to learn that at one point he began brandishing a gun. This was during that writer's final days on the planet and he had a history of irresponsible behavior which included accidentally shooting his wife to death in Mexico during the 1950's. Paterniti was a bit concerned when Bill whipped out that firearm.

This was our second interview and we had developed an easy familiarity since we had already been over most of this material together already. After this program aired again recently I got a note from a listener who wanted to share her happiness about hearing it. She had heard the original interview 20 years ago and she told me this had been an interview she had been wanting to hear and was delighted when it finally turned up again.

The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them. Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.