"Felix was always asking things of the Brazen Head... He especially liked giving the Head fantastic instructions: Use mutant robot zombies to collect the infofiles! Use color-coded carrier pigeons! Bake the anwers in a jujuberry pie!"
Cantor's fast-paced dystopian time travel comedy is full of fascinating references to history and mysticism that keep me close to search engines and Wikipedia—Il Milione, Roger Bacon, Pythagoras, and the beautiful Voynich Manuscript, which may or may not have been (in some timeline) a work of Augmented Reality. During our live Twitter Q&A, we can consult the Brazen Head behind the book itself, asking Rachel more about her novel and the interwoven intellectual heritages that fast-food-fight through its pages.
Fast Food and Ways of Knowing
Cantor spoke about the connection between meditation practices and her protagonist Leonard in an interview with One Story. I'm fascinated by the ways of knowing that Rachel playfully places in conflict: Can powerful ideas be mass marketed like fast food, or do they persist through social movements, practices, rituals, or texts? Can close study, skilled readers, or software reconstruct their power? I also want to try some Pythagorean Pizza.
About Rachel Cantor
Rachel Cantor's debut novel follows on from a substantial short story publishing record in the Paris Review, the Kenyon Review, the New England Review, and others. I have especially enjoyed a recent interview in Publishers Weekly, where Cantor named no fewer than 37 favorite writers. Rachel now lives in Brooklyn, has written extensively for international development nonprofits, traveling widely in Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia.
How to Join Our Twitter Q&A
On Thursday, July 24th, at 8 p.m. Eastern / 5 p.m. Pacific, Rachel Cantor (@RachelCantor) will respond to questions posted to our hashtag, #1book140, and our Twitter account (@1book140). We’ll publish the conversation to TheAtlantic.com after the event.
J. Nathan Matias develops technologies for civic participation, media analytics, and creative learning at the MIT Media Lab and Center for Civic Media. He also helps run @1book140, The Atlantic's Twitter book club.