the fractalist

Definitely a cool—if borderline hairy—cover…! I have not read The Fractalist, which is an auto-biography of Benoît Mandelbrot, who passed away in 2010. (The title itself is not bad either, ringing both of fatalist as in Diderot, and catalyst as in, er… catalyst! I do not know if it was suggested by Mandelbrot himself or by an editor after he passed away.) It was however mentioned in a book review I read in the New York Times on my way back to Paris. The reviewer, Dwight Garner, is rather critical of the memoir:

`To read “The Fractalist” is to examine a brain — Mandelbrot’s — that can seem to reside in a jar. There is almost nothing about his wife, his two sons or his other interests (if he had any), besides music. His ego is perhaps too apparent. To put my complaints in Mandelbrotian terms, this book lacks a sort of glorious roughness. It reads like a lightly annotated curriculum vitae.’

and states in the final paragraph that `Beautiful minds don’t always write beautiful books. Life isn’t fair that way.‘ I am thus rather reserved about writing a CHANCE review of this book, esp. because I never came close to use any of Mandelbrot’s work. Now, if any ‘Og reader is interested in writing such a review, send it to me and I will consider it with the utmost attention! (Just to be crystal-clear on this: I have not received a copy of The Fractalist from the editor and do not plan to request one. So potential reviewers will have to purchase the book on their own funds.)

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