Pay Attention to the Man Who Believes He's Married to a Pigeon
The impoverished old man who lives in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel is obsessed with pigeons—one in particular, which he calls his wife. He claims that he has communicated with Mars, created a death ray, and invented electricity, radio and remote control. He thinks that telephones will some day not need wires. Clearly, he's a kook. But Louisa Dewell, the hotel chambermaid who narrates Samantha Hunt's beautiful historical novel The Invention of Everything Else, befriends this lonely man. Turns out, he's Nikola Tesla, who actually did pioneer alternating-current electricity and was responsible for countless other inventions, but now finds himself snubbed and forgotten. Not only does this friendship infuse variety into Louisa's mind-numbing job, but it offers her insight into the life of her own father and, just maybe, the chance to reconnect with her long-dead mother. Too often we look for new friends who are, well, pretty much just like us. Louisa's story shows that by opening up, by offering a lonely person some attention, by learning to listen, to really listen, we may stumble upon a friendship unlike any other.