Books

The Book You Have To Read

''Rule of Four'' authors recommend museum book -- Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason talk about the quirky ''Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder,'' the book they say you must read

Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason, authors of The Rule of Four, Lawrence Weschler's Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder.

Novelists -- maybe all artists -- are the rogue privateers of the fact world, navigators of a mercenary line between the God's honest truth and a titillating lie. Weschler has found a perfect instrument to explore that line: David Wilson, proprietor of L.A.'s weird and wonderful Museum of Jurassic Technology. At Wilson's museum (which really does exist), hoax exhibits sit side by side with real ones, each stranger than the last. Here, a tiny Flemish landscape carved into a fruit pit; there, a Cameroonian stink ant rendered a zombie by mysterious airborne spores. And there's the meta-curiosity lingering behind it all: Weschler's book itself, which, like its subject, makes you wonder how much of what you're seeing is real. If this doesn't make you think twice before believing everything you read, nothing will.

Originally posted Sep 24, 2004 Published in issue #785 Sep 24, 2004 Order article reprints