A Los Angeles woman, who until recently was known only to the scientific community as "AJ," has come out of the laboratory closet to talk about herself — a subject she knows intimately. Jill Price is an autobiographical Rainman. She can tell you what she had for lunch on any random day 15 or 20 years ago. So precise are her memories that leading experts on human memory have been studying her for eight years.
Price has written a book, with Bart Davis: The Woman Who Can't Forget: The Extraordinary Story of Living with the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science (Free Press, 263 pages, $26).
It is the story of an ordinary woman, now 42 years old, whose brain began working overtime when she was 14. Price says her life plays out like a split-screen in her head, with all her memories continually swirling around.
Physicist Michio Kaku writes about antimatter — it's what powered spaceships in "Star Trek" — in his new book, Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel (Doubleday, 352 pages, 26.95).
"A professor at the City University of New York, Kaku appears to have read every major tract by Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg and Kurt Godel, plus a mountain of comic books and science fiction novels," writes Jeffrey Tannenbaum in a review for Bloomberg News. "His own book assesses whether phasers, teleportation and other technologies used by Flash Gordon and Captain Kirk could really be developed."
Because of his ability to explain complex scientific issues in easy-to-understand terms, Kaku has created a following on TV news shows, documentaries and radio programs, talking about the same subjects he covers in the new book.
Murder, medicine and forensic investigation collide in Lawrence Goldstone's fiction debut, The Anatomy of Deception (Delacorte, 340 pages, $24), which takes place in Philadelphia in the late 1800s, around the time autopsies were just becoming a legal practice.
The first paragraph sets the scene:
March 14, 1889
For days, clouds had hung over the frigid city, promising snow, an ephemeral late winter veneer of white, but the temperature had suddenly risen and a cold, stringing drizzle had arrived instead. Jostled along in the derelict hansom, clad in her maid's blue worsted dress and plain wool cloak, her fingers and feet felt bloodless. The gloom that hung over the river penetrated the thin walls of the coach until it seemed as though she were breathing it.
Publisher's Weekly says: "With this top-notch historical page-turner and his proven versatility in nonfiction, Goldstone can expect to win over many new fans."
"Ever since the early fascination with my sister's many devious successes, it is the scum who have long held my interest," writes Barbara Oakley in the introduction to Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend (Prometheus Books, 353 pages, $28.95)....
Right from the get-go, author Rachel Herz takes a pop culture approach to her subject: the sense of smell.
In The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell (William Morrow, 241, $24.95), Herz tells the story of how musician Michael Hutchence, lead singer of the Australian rock band INXS, likely would not have committed suicide in 1997 if he hadn't suffered a fractured skull in a freak cycling accident five years earlier...
Between reading the controversial O.J. Simpson book (reviewed in today's Sun-Times), which brought back memories of the trial's bloody details, and recently becoming hooked on reruns of the original "CSI," today's pick practically jumped off the shelf and into my hands on its own.
Forensics and Fiction: Clever, Intriguing, and Downright Odd Questions From Crime Writers by D.P. Lyle (Thomas Dunne Books, 284 pages, $23.95) is a sequel of sorts to the author's 2003 book Murder and Mayhem. Both books are filled with questions from crime writers who want to make their stories as authentic as possible.
Aside from being a handy reference for crime writers, Forensics and Fiction is interesting reading. Here's a sampling of questions ...