Jean Echenoz, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale
New Press: 142 pp., $19.95
Gregor, Echenoz's character based on the life of Nikola Tesla, the eccentric Serbian inventor, is born as a bolt of lightning sets the surrounding forest on fire.
From that point on, his life moves in bolts and flashes. He swallows his education whole, excelling at everything and, with a pocket full of diplomas, heads for the United States to work with Thomas Edison at the Edison Electric Co. There, Gregor develops the alternating current, disagrees with Edison over its relevance and finds himself looking for a job.
He goes to work for Westinghouse, where he...