Monday, June 18, 2007

NYC Event: Kenny Fries Reading, 6/20

I'll be there...

My friend and former colleague Kenny Fries will read from and sign his new book, The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin's Theory, on Wednesday, June 20, 7pm, at Barnes and Noble, 675 Sixth Avenue at W. 22nd Street in New York City.

Kenny is really smart and very, very funny: a wicked sense of humor and a great laugh. Oh, woe to me when Kenny would stop by my office--no work would get done for an hour--and woe to me when Kenny would not stop by--for where would the fun of the day be then? So, I haven't seen Kenny in a million years (Japan, and now Calgary, have been between us) so I'm excited for Wednesday. The babysitter is secured. I'm good to go.

Here's some stuff from the press release:
Booklist has called Kenny Fries "an unusual historian, wearing the story of his life on his feet in specially constructed orthopedic shoes....Few are the writers who can so deftly weave science into personal reflections, compellingly reminding readers ofthe still unfathomable mystery of one terrestrial species." National Book Award winning-author Andrea Barrett was "delighted by the perfectly apt conjunctions, by the grace and economy of which the episodes from Darwin's life and key concepts of his work are transposed into a 'natural history' of the self with a poet's sense of telling detail." And best-selling author and anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas finds the book "beautifully written, fascinating, incredibly says saomething about the human race that is truly profound. I don't know when I have read anything more pertinent or exciting."

In The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory Kenny Fries tells two stories: the development of the theory of “survival of the fittest," as articulated by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace; and the history of his ever-changing, made-to-order, orthopedic shoes. The famously important first story, as told by Kenny Fries, is a condensed and colorful account of the race between Darwin and Wallace to formulate their groundbreaking theories. At the same time, Fries tells a deeply personal story of the evolving consciousness of his own "adaptations," represented by his shoes.

Although only the “fittest” may survive, Fries learns that adaptation and variation are critical to survival. What is deemed normal, or even perfect, are passing phases of the ever-changing embodiment of nature in our world. In the end, Darwin and Wallace’s discoveries resonate with Fries' own story, inextricably leading us into a new world where variety and difference are not only “normal,” but the ingenious origins of survival itself.

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