by Jason Fagone
So INGENIOUS is out now, and people are reading it. Most seem to like it, which is gratifying. If you’re reading INGENIOUS, please shoot me a note and let me know what you think.
I wanted to gather a couple of links to nice things that have happened since the pub date.
1. I gave a 5-minute talk at Ignite Philly, an event where people are invited to share their passions with a supportive and increasingly drunk audience at Johnny Brenda’s, a bar in Philadelphia. Here’s the audio of all 15 Ignite talks, and here’s the audio of my talk, which was about why most cars suck from an efficiency standpoint and the inventors who are trying to change that.
2. Mother Jones, Slate, and Longreads published different excerpts of the book. Mother Jones also did a fun Q&A with me about how I picked the four Automotive X Prize teams I followed in the book, whether the prize resulted in any practical advances, and which car I’d most want to drive.
3. Matt Staggs at Biographile asked me a bunch of great questions about how I researched the book, the reputation of inventors in the culture, and why the X Prize almost wrecked a couple of lives.
4. The great Ryan Jones at The Penn Stater asked me about what inspired me to write the book and what the book says about “about America’s historic place as fertile ground for inventors and dreamers.” He also called the book “a blast,” writing that “you don’t have to be an engineer, or even all that interested in cars—I’m neither—to appreciate the cast of characters, the very real human drama, and Jason’s smart story telling.”
5. I shared a few of my favorite recent magazine pieces with an old friend, Dan Morrell, at Dog Ear Consultants.
6. Susan Carpenter, automotive writer for the Orange County Register, wrote a review of INGENIOUS in the Register’s Wheels section. I like the review because it’s sharp and well-written, but I also like it because I’ve been curious to know what true automotive experts think of the book, and Carpenter seems to appreciate what I tried to do. The piece is behind a paywall, so I’ll pull out a few quotes:
“A paean to the long-lost American art of invention, ‘Ingenious’ is a story that has all the built-in drama of the best fiction. It’s driven by characters that are, by turns, whip smart and wide-eyed and desperate, and a plot to achieve a seemingly unobtainable goal.”…
“Fagone does an impeccable job of conveying the angst of teams that had literally put everything on the line – their livelihoods, their marriages, their financial, emotional and physical well-being… He artfully conveys the competitors’ emotions along with the inner workings of technology in a manner that is understandable to the layman yet satisfying for the mechanically knowledgeable – a difficult feat most likely born from Fagone’s inherent disinterest in cars coupled with the imperative that he truly understand them…
“With ‘Ingenious,’ Fagone has penned a thought-provoking book that will appeal to automotive efficiency geeks and readers who long for America’s can-do past…”
7. Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon reviewed it. Sonny is very smart and I’ve enjoyed his writing for a while. I like this review because Sonny and I disagree about a lot of stuff politically, and he’s honest about what irritated him about my point of view. He finds things to appreciate about the book anyway:
Regardless, Ingenious is a fun read for car buffs, filled with quirky folks and quirkier autos. It’s a testament to Fagone’s writing that I left the book wanting to know more about one of the couples featured in the book, the wifely half of which initiates a divorce at the contest’s conclusion. And I wanted to know more about the cars as well. Will the Illuminati’s huge car ever be more than a one-off oddity? Will Edison2′s tiny car win over skeptical corporate overlords?
8. Everyday eBook reviewed INGENIOUS, calling it “a snapshot of the American can-do spirit.”
9. One of the people I write about in the book reviewed it on Goodreads. It’s not unbiased, obviously, but the review means a lot to me because of lines like this:
Even though I was there for parts of the competition, even though I knew how the story ends, while listening to this audio book I found myself cheering the teams, on the verge of tears during one scene at knockout because other “characters” were crying, and giddy at the “race” itself. I was experiencing it again and yet for the first time, as if maybe, just maybe, the ending would be different for some teams.
I’m a natural pessimist, and yet upon finishing this book I came away with the feeling of a rekindled excitement, a hope for the future, and much, much love.
10. I’ve pretty much finalized the itinerary for the Ingenious Road Trip in December. It looks kind of like this:
And here’s the map:
Here’s more info on the events. If you live near any of these places and you’re at all interested in the book or in electric vehicles or in the future of transportation, please do come out and see the show. It would be great to meet you.
To all who have tweeted about the book or shared these links with friends, thank you so much. More reviews etc. on the way.