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Author
RobertKurson
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎07-03-2007
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How I Came to Write This Book

I began this book late one sleepless night. While tossing and turning, I came upon an intriguing question: What is the single greatest possible human experience – the single best thing that could happen to a person?

I entertained various possibilities: Was it a night of romance with Charlize Theron? A perfect dinner cooked by the world’s greatest chef? An evening of Mozart under the stars at an outdoor music festival? Then I decided, No, the single greatest possible human experience must be the moment a person, blind for life, opens his eyes and sees. Nothing could be more wonderful than that.

I began researching the topic the next morning. New vision after a lifetime of blindness, it turns out, is astonishingly rare – there are fewer than 20 cases known to all of history – the first dates to ancient Arabia in the year 1020. But even more amazing, every one of these patients seemed to have suffered a deep and profound depression for his daring to see. There were suicide attempts, clawing at the eyes, fury at the surgeons who had cured them, even early death.

I did, however, come across one name – Mike May – an inventor and businessman living in Davis, California. He had been made to see by a revolutionary stem cell transplant surgery. But that’s about all I could glean. I called May at his business number in Davis, expecting to hear the voice of a suicidal man. Instead, he sounded exceedingly…busy. He invited me to his home.

A week later, I was listening to an odyssey and adventure, one that involved the risk of death, romance, daring, and new insights into the human brain and heart, unlike any I’d heard in my life. That story became Crashing Through. I'm looking forward to discussing it with all of you.


Learn more about Crashing Through.
Contributor
lovetoread
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book



RobertKurson wrote:
I began this book late one sleepless night. While tossing and turning, I came upon an intriguing question: What is the single greatest possible human experience – the single best thing that could happen to a person?

I entertained various possibilities: Was it a night of romance with Charlize Theron? A perfect dinner cooked by the world’s greatest chef? An evening of Mozart under the stars at an outdoor music festival? Then I decided, No, the single greatest possible human experience must be the moment a person, blind for life, opens his eyes and sees. Nothing could be more wonderful than that.

I began researching the topic the next morning. New vision after a lifetime of blindness, it turns out, is astonishingly rare – there are fewer than 20 cases known to all of history – the first dates to ancient Arabia in the year 1020. But even more amazing, every one of these patients seemed to have suffered a deep and profound depression for his daring to see. There were suicide attempts, clawing at the eyes, fury at the surgeons who had cured them, even early death.

I did, however, come across one name – Mike May – an inventor and businessman living in Davis, California. He had been made to see by a revolutionary stem cell transplant surgery. But that’s about all I could glean. I called May at his business number in Davis, expecting to hear the voice of a suicidal man. Instead, he sounded exceedingly…busy. He invited me to his home.

A week later, I was listening to an odyssey and adventure, one that involved the risk of death, romance, daring, and new insights into the human brain and heart, unlike any I’d heard in my life. That story became Crashing Through. I'm looking forward to discussing it with all of you.


Dear Robert,

I haven't yet read your book, but it sounds so fascinating that I'm going to buy it and read it this weekend. I agree with you about sight being the most incredible human experience possible....i couldn't imagine not being able to see all the wonderful images that surround me every day.
Contributor
lovetoread
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Robert,

I forgot to add that I loved SHADOW DIVERS. I shared it with a young German friend of mine, and I was thrilled that he loved it, too...he couldn't put it down. The way you linked the discovery of the wreck, and relentless pursuit of the divers to uncover the truth about the identity of the sub, and then, the life stories of the Germans...it was truly a fantastic story! I think it would make a great film....

Now, on to your new book....
New User
Lindor16
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎05-05-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

I have read about half way through the book and have found it quite fascinating. I bought a copy when you had visited our book store last month or so and signed copies of us employees and our customers. I love that there is so much knowledge in there. I have a hard time reading books that are all factual and read like a textbook. This one has human feeling and and inspiration. You can actually see how it would feel to be in Mike's place and what would make him chose to make that choice. I have had a lot of customers asking about the book. I love giving them a first hand opinion on it. Way to go.
Amy
Read till your eyes burn from lack of sleep or someone shuts off the lights.
Amy
Author
RobertKurson
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎07-03-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

Thanks so much, Lindor! I love dropping in at bookstores to sign my books. I always ask to apply the "Autographed Copy" sticker myself - that way, I can take an extra one or two for my kids, who like stickers more than they do their dad's books.

Thanks, too, for the kind words about the scientific parts of the book. It was incredibly important for me to write those sections in an accessible way. Brain science can get extremely complicated very quickly; I just didn't want to bog down the reader in technical stuff and risk losing the narrative momentum of the story. I'm so happy to hear that the science didn't put you off.


Learn more about Crashing Through.
Inspired Correspondent
Wrighty
Posts: 1,762
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book


RobertKurson wrote:
Thanks so much, Lindor! I love dropping in at bookstores to sign my books. I always ask to apply the "Autographed Copy" sticker myself - that way, I can take an extra one or two for my kids, who like stickers more than they do their dad's books.

Thanks, too, for the kind words about the scientific parts of the book. It was incredibly important for me to write those sections in an accessible way. Brain science can get extremely complicated very quickly; I just didn't want to bog down the reader in technical stuff and risk losing the narrative momentum of the story. I'm so happy to hear that the science didn't put you off.




Robert,
I agree with Lindor. You made this book so interesting and definitely accessible. I don't always care for fiction, especially textbook style. You made it into a story that was comfortable and I wanted to know more about the science because you applied it instead of just writing it. I wasn't sure it I would want to read this book at first but as soon as I started reading it I was hooked. I will read more of your books too. You did a great job.
Inspired Correspondent
Librarian
Posts: 483
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book



lovetoread wrote:
Robert,

I forgot to add that I loved SHADOW DIVERS. I shared it with a young German friend of mine, and I was thrilled that he loved it, too...he couldn't put it down. The way you linked the discovery of the wreck, and relentless pursuit of the divers to uncover the truth about the identity of the sub, and then, the life stories of the Germans...it was truly a fantastic story! I think it would make a great film....

Now, on to your new book....



Robert-----I went to Barnes & Noble yesterday and bought Shadow Divers. After being captivated by your writing in Crashing Through and hearing about Shadow Divers, I really want to read it. I'm finishing a book for my in-person book club now---Special Topics in Calamity Physics, a novel by Marisha Pessl but I'm looking forward to reading Shadow Divers.
Librarian
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book


Librarian wrote:


lovetoread wrote:
Robert,

I forgot to add that I loved SHADOW DIVERS. I shared it with a young German friend of mine, and I was thrilled that he loved it, too...he couldn't put it down. The way you linked the discovery of the wreck, and relentless pursuit of the divers to uncover the truth about the identity of the sub, and then, the life stories of the Germans...it was truly a fantastic story! I think it would make a great film....

Now, on to your new book....



Robert-----I went to Barnes & Noble yesterday and bought Shadow Divers. After being captivated by your writing in Crashing Through and hearing about Shadow Divers, I really want to read it. I'm finishing a book for my in-person book club now---Special Topics in Calamity Physics, a novel by Marisha Pessl but I'm looking forward to reading Shadow Divers.
Librarian


I think I may be headed to get Shadow Divers too Librarian :smileywink: I love the sites on here too, I checked out both and and saw a place to write to you Robert on yours by both of your books, and I sent an email lol. Excellent writing. I knew this one was a must for me because of my love for science, nonfiction and also a good story tho, and here they all were in one book! With what Robert says about his motives for writing each book and what shadow's about, I think its probably a must read for me too. :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Contributor
MahaBali
Posts: 14
Registered: ‎07-16-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book

hi Robert,

I love this opportunity to interact with you and other readers of the book! Online is a great idea, and extended over a month even a greater idea because I am still on chapter 3!

I was intrigued by your book because I thought the movie "At First Sight" was a little shallow and since watching it, I've wanted to read a "true" story of the kind you've written

Although I understand what you mean about the experience of sight after a lifetime of blindness, I somehow always thought it would be more like the depression and anger that you've mentioned exists... I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to Mike May and why he eventually decides to go through with the surgery, even though his life seemed great without sight (he had done more than most people do in a lifetime)
Author
RobertKurson
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎07-03-2007
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Re: How I Came to Write This Book



MahaBali wrote:
hi Robert,

I love this opportunity to interact with you and other readers of the book! Online is a great idea, and extended over a month even a greater idea because I am still on chapter 3!

I was intrigued by your book because I thought the movie "At First Sight" was a little shallow and since watching it, I've wanted to read a "true" story of the kind you've written

Although I understand what you mean about the experience of sight after a lifetime of blindness, I somehow always thought it would be more like the depression and anger that you've mentioned exists... I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to Mike May and why he eventually decides to go through with the surgery, even though his life seemed great without sight (he had done more than most people do in a lifetime)




I won't ruin it for you, but in the book Mike himself has occasion to watch the movie "At First Sight." His opinion matched your own!

It was equally interesting to me, maybe even moreso, to talk to Mike's wife Jennifer about that movie. I think she might have given it an even harsher review than did Mike. It simply made no sense to her that the blind person's spouse would push her husband even a bit to gain vision. She just couldn't relate to that at all.


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Contributor
MahaBali
Posts: 14
Registered: ‎07-16-2007
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about Mike's vision (don't read if you haven't finished the book yet)

I'm still on page 185, but I have a question about color... Mike seems to find it easy to identify colors from the start. I was surprised - does that mean he had memories since before his accident and could still remember colors? I would have thought these things would be forgotten because he was only 3 when the accident happened!

By the way, I liked the part about Mike and Jennifer watching "At First Sight" together and although they don't explain exactly what it is that bothered them about he movie, I understood completely.

I love your writing style... I feel like every moment away from the book I get withdrawal symptoms and want to get back!!!
Author
RobertKurson
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎07-03-2007
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Re: about Mike's vision (don't read if you haven't finished the book yet)



MahaBali wrote:
I'm still on page 185, but I have a question about color... Mike seems to find it easy to identify colors from the start. I was surprised - does that mean he had memories since before his accident and could still remember colors? I would have thought these things would be forgotten because he was only 3 when the accident happened!

By the way, I liked the part about Mike and Jennifer watching "At First Sight" together and although they don't explain exactly what it is that bothered them about he movie, I understood completely.

I love your writing style... I feel like every moment away from the book I get withdrawal symptoms and want to get back!!!





Thanks so much for the kind words, MahaBali. It's interesting that you mention withdrawal. I'm feeling a bit of that myself. As an author, you spend years of your life immersed in a story and its characters. Then, one day, it's all over, and you move on to something entirely new. It turns out that's not a process entirely free of regret, especially if you liked your subject, as I did Mike May.


Learn more about Crashing Through.
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