Over at Linda Hall Library, the metro's great nonprofit biosphere for eggheads and just-us-average-yolks, 2011 is the "Year of Innovation." Well, there isn't much of the calendar left, but the library's fall lecture series has saved some of the best for last. At 7 p.m. in the Main Reading Room (5109 Cherry), Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jane Smiley
talks about her 2010 book, The Man Who Invented the Computer: The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer
. Even those who frequent the Hall stacks might ask: who? For Smiley, that's the point. As she explained to Wired
last year: "I was asked by an editor to consider writing something about an American inventor. I asked him if he knew who invented the computer. He said he didn't. In that case, I told him, I should write a book about John Vincent Atanasoff." But her subject was no Steve Jobs. "My take on Atanasoff," Smiley told Wired
, "is that he was a pain in the ass. I think he was the kind of person who is so directed and determined that you want to run the other direction after about two days." To order free tickets to see Smiley (or to attend the remaining lectures: digital-camera inventor Steve Sasson on October 26, and Pandora Radio mastermind Nolan Gasser on November 2), register at lindahall.org
or call 816-926-8772.