The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

With Incognito, David Eagleman Proves Himself a ‘Brilliant Scientist with a Gift for Gab.’

After releasing his last book, Why the Net Matters, as an iPad app, neuroscientist David Eagleman returns to traditional publishing with his latest book, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. “Most of what you do, think, act and believe is generated by parts of your brain to which you have no access,” writes Eagleman. “Here’s the expose about the non-conscious brain and all the machinery under the hood that keeps the show going.” Though other books have been written about the brain — “three pounds of the most complex material we’ve discovered in the universe” — Incognito stands out because Eagleman is both a celebrated neuroscientist conducting original research, as well as a gifted novelist. In other words, the book is scientifically rigorous and refreshing but also a joy to read. Here’s the first review, from the excellent site LoveReading.Co.UK:

This book grabs you from the first page, tumbling out facts and information in a down to earth and readable way, with a chatty humour which does not disguise the amount of knowledge that neuroscientist author David Eagleman has to offer. Many of his facts and anecdotes are grippingly interesting and I found myself re-reading several of them so that I could tell other people and impress them with my knowledge!  This is the real secret of the success of this fantastic book – it is easily broken into manageable chunks of reading so that you are not completely bogged down or overwhelmed by what must be his vastly superior intellect.  It is rare to find a brilliant scientist who has the gift of the gab and can hold an audience but this book really does do that.  For anyone interested in human nature and behavior, this book is an absolute must, a “can’t put it down” treasure store of fascinating information about our brains.

Read more about keynote speaker David Eagleman

David Eagleman’s Sum: A Deceptively Slim Mash-Up of Science, Faith and Literary Fiction

“I’ve never encountered a book quite like the marvelously intelligent and imaginative Sum,” writes Laura Grace Weldon over at Wired’s Geek Dad blog. The sentiment is enormously kind — and spot on. Written by rambunctious neuroscientist David Eagleman over the course of seven years, Sum is a unique work of literary fiction that fuses philosophy and religion to produce an expansive investigation into questions about faith, science and human nature. All in only 107 pages! “Read Sum and be amazed,” Time magazine writes. “Reread it and be reamazed all over again.” Done!

From the publisher:

SUM is a dazzling exploration of funny and unexpected afterlives that have never been considered — each presented as a vignette that offers us a stunning lens through which to see ourselves here and now. In one afterlife you may find that God is the size of a microbe and is unaware of your existence. In another, your creators are a species of dim-witted creatures who built us to figure out what they could not. In a different version of the afterlife you work as a background character in other people’s dreams. Or you may find that God is a married couple struggling with discontent, or that the afterlife contains only those people whom you remember, or that the hereafter includes the thousands of previous gods who no longer attract followers. In some afterlives you are split into your different ages; in some you are forced to live with annoying versions of yourself that represent what you could have been; in others you are re-created from your credit card records and Internet history. David Eagleman proposes many versions of our purpose here; we are mobile robots for cosmic mapmakers, we are reunions for a scattered confederacy of atoms, we are experimental subjects for gods trying to understand what makes couples stick together. These wonderfully imagined tales — at once funny, wistful, and unsettling — are rooted in science and romance and awe at our mysterious existence: a mixture of death, hope, computers, immortality, love, biology, and desire that exposes radiant new facets of our humanity.

For those who are interested in Sum, but who wish that the stories could be read to them — say, by Nick Cave, or Emily Blunt, or the lead singer from Pulp — there’s good news. Canongate Books has released Sum as an app, with stories read by Stephen Fry, Gillian Anderson, and, of course, David Eagleman himself.

Read more about keynote speaker David Eagleman

Maureen Dowd Calls Patti Smith’s Memoir, Just Kids, “Achingly Beautiful”

Lavin speaker Patti Smith, as I’m sure you’ve heard, won the 2010 National Book Award for Non-Fiction in November. In her acceptance speech, Patti implored us to not give up on the book as a physical object: “There is nothing in our material world more beautiful.” Patti won for Just Kids, a memoir of her adventures as a struggling artist in New York City during the 1960s and ’70s. It’s a truly engrossing read. More than any other book of its kind, Just Kids offers a fantastically vivid view into what it means to be young, poor, ambitious, and ready to change the world through your art. Patti’s memoir is a love poem to a great city and a long-lost milieu. But its true subject is her great friendship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who, along with Smith herself, is one of the definitive New York-based artists of our generation.

Less than a year old, and now out in paperback, Just Kids is one of those books I increasingly see toted around by college kids on park benches, in coffee shops, and at dive bars. (And the copies are always heavily dog-earred; a sure sign of a book’s greatness! “There is nothing in our material world more beautiful”!) Here’s an excerpt from a recent and glowing Maureen Dowd op-ed in the Times. It’s an appreciation of Smith’s memoir that nails, quite nicely, the book’s cool mystique and universal appeal:

For anyone who has had a relationship where the puzzle pieces seem perfect but don’t fit — so, all of us — “Just Kids” is achingly beautiful. It’s “La Bohème” at the Chelsea Hotel; a mix, she writes, of “Funny Face” and “Faust,” two hungry artists figuring out whom to love, how to make art and when to part. It unfolds in that romantic time before we were swallowed by Facebook, flat screens, texts, tweets and Starbucks; when people still talked all night and listened to jukeboxes and LPs and read actual books and drank black coffee.