tesla

sub-heading:
All My Dreams Are True
$23.00

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  • 258 pages
  • Black/White Illustration Throughout
  • Paperback ISBN 9781682195079​
  • E-book ISBN 9781682192627

about the book

TESLA: All My Dreams Are True jolts and flows between the extraordinary life of the inventor Nikola Tesla, the making of a feature film about him by the celebrated director Michael Almereyda, and episodes from the filmmaker’s own restless, quixotic career. In these pages, we encounter Tesla’s colleagues and friends intermingling with Almereyda’s collaborators and influences: Thomas Edison and David Lynch, Mark Twain and Sam Shepard, Sarah Bernhardt and Ethan Hawke, J.P. Morgan and Orson Welles. A rich array of illustrations – vintage and personal photographs, film stills, drawings and comic-book art – enhance the sense of time travel and parallel histories, as we read of a scheme to transmit wireless energy through the earth, of the electrocution of an elephant, of fortunes made and surrendered, and of the obsessions that propel a scientist seeking to transform the world and a director seeking to make a movie.


"As a big fan of Nikola Tesla and Michael Almereyda, I highly recommend this book. It deftly defies convention, becoming an engaging portrait of both its subject and its author. Almereyda weaves facts with impressions and myths with personal details, punctuated throughout with fascinating illustrations. Excellent."

—Jim Jarmusch

“This insightful and entertaining book will let you sink deep into the brain of legendary electrical genius Nikola Tesla. What’s more, you’ll get to know some of his wild and amazing contemporaries. And on top of that, you’re getting into the mind of one of the great American filmmakers, Michael Almereyda, who dared to tackle the mysterious Tesla and a bunch of unlikely supporting characters. Wow!”

—Wim Wenders

“With Tesla: All My Dreams Are True, Michael Almereyda shows the route he took in making his extraordinary sort-of biopic about Nikola Tesla. The dazzling result is part memoir, part biography, part filmmaking diary, a meditation on what it means not just to make a movie, but to will it into being over decades.”

—Stephanie Zacharek, film critic, Time

“This superb, wonderfully illustrated book is much more than a companion to Tesla. In its fascinating detours and observations, we gain an understanding of the meticulousness of Almereyda’s research, his eye for strange and revealing details, and his unique way of blending the past and the present, the historical and the speculative, the intimate and the monumental. It’s a joy to spend time with an artist for whom filmmaking and criticism are so richly intertwined.”

—Andrew Chan, critic and web editor at the Criterion Collection

“Candid and poignant, Almereyda's account of Tesla and himself is illuminating, ironic and intimate. Acrobatic without pretense or strain. A joy to read. (A book to keep.)”

—Hampton Fancher, screenwriter of Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049

“You will find books about Nikola Tesla that describe him as a genius, even an extraterrestrial, but none that really capture him as a human being. Michael Almereyda, having spent decades writing, re-writing and eventually directing a film about Tesla, shows us why. He examines the facts and myths (many Tesla-created) from every angle, resulting in a book of reflections and refractions that, taken together, encompass the inventor, the filmmaker, and the film in one remarkable multifaceted work.”

—Carter Burwell

About The Author / Editor

Michael Almereyda in New York in 1981, the year he completed his first Tesla screenplay. Photo: Tom Jenkins. Michael Almereyda has written and directed fourteen feature films, most recently Cymbeline, Experimenter, Marjorie Prime, Escapes, and Tesla. He has edited and contributed essays for books on Vladimir Mayakovsky, William Eggleston, Manny Farber, and Garry Winogrand.

Read An Excerpt

Chapter 1: NASTY MICROBES

Nikola Tesla in January, 1894. “First photograph ever taken by phosphorescent light.”

What drew me to Nikola Tesla when I was a teenager, more than forty years ago, is not quite the same as what drew me to make a movie about him in 2019, and the coordinates shifted altogether during 2020, a shared hallucination of a year, when this book was written and time, it’s been commonly agreed, feels different: muffled, staggered, destabilized, alternately freezing and skipping forward, as we’ve found ourselves jostled between quarantine and protest, detachment, division, and some semblance of solidarity.

I haven’t been able to resist thinking about how I’d make my film over again, if I could start fresh or simply apply a new coat of paint. I’d pretty surely pay more heed to Tesla’s germaphobia. In My Inventions, the autobiography serialized in Electrical Experimenter magazine in 1919, written when Tesla was sixty-two (startlingly, not much older than I am now), he describes his experience with cholera, when an epidemic descended upon his home town of Gospic, in what’s now Croatia. He was eighteen, returning from school:

It is incredible how absolutely ignorant people were as to the causes of this scourge…They thought that the deadly agents were transmitted thru the air and filled it with pungent odors and smoke. In the meantime they drank infested water and died in heaps. I contracted the dreadful disease on the very day of my arrival and although surviving the crisis I was confined to bed for 9 months with scarcely any ability to move. My energy was completely exhausted and for the second time I found myself at Death’s door. In one of the sinking spells which was thought to be the last, my father rushed into the room. I still see his pallid face as he tried to cheer me in tones belying his assurance. “Perhaps,” I said, “I may get well if you will let me study engineering.”

That is an origin story, of a kind, building on Tesla’s first visit “at death’s door,” just a few years earlier, when he was fifteen, bedridden with malaria. (The malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes, had lingered, leaving him particularly vulnerable to cholera.) Images of lethal micro-organisms chased Tesla throughout his life. In Paris, shortly before leaving for the U.S. in 1884, with an introduction to Thomas Edison in hand, he worked with a scientist studying the properties of drinking water. As recounted in a letter written sixteen years later to his friend Robert Underwood Johnson, the invitation to look through a microscope perpetually heightened Tesla’s horror of germs:

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tesla

sub-heading:
All My Dreams Are True
$23.00

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about the book

TESLA: All My Dreams Are True jolts and flows between the extraordinary life of the inventor Nikola Tesla, the making of a feature film about him by the celebrated director Michael Almereyda, and episodes from the filmmaker’s own restless, quixotic career. In these pages, we encounter Tesla’s colleagues and friends intermingling with Almereyda’s collaborators and influences: Thomas Edison and David Lynch, Mark Twain and Sam Shepard, Sarah Bernhardt and Ethan Hawke, J.P. Morgan and Orson Welles. A rich array of illustrations – vintage and personal photographs, film stills, drawings and comic-book art – enhance the sense of time travel and parallel histories, as we read of a scheme to transmit wireless energy through the earth, of the electrocution of an elephant, of fortunes made and surrendered, and of the obsessions that propel a scientist seeking to transform the world and a director seeking to make a movie.


"As a big fan of Nikola Tesla and Michael Almereyda, I highly recommend this book. It deftly defies convention, becoming an engaging portrait of both its subject and its author. Almereyda weaves facts with impressions and myths with personal details, punctuated throughout with fascinating illustrations. Excellent."

—Jim Jarmusch

“This insightful and entertaining book will let you sink deep into the brain of legendary electrical genius Nikola Tesla. What’s more, you’ll get to know some of his wild and amazing contemporaries. And on top of that, you’re getting into the mind of one of the great American filmmakers, Michael Almereyda, who dared to tackle the mysterious Tesla and a bunch of unlikely supporting characters. Wow!”

—Wim Wenders

“With Tesla: All My Dreams Are True, Michael Almereyda shows the route he took in making his extraordinary sort-of biopic about Nikola Tesla. The dazzling result is part memoir, part biography, part filmmaking diary, a meditation on what it means not just to make a movie, but to will it into being over decades.”

—Stephanie Zacharek, film critic, Time

“This superb, wonderfully illustrated book is much more than a companion to Tesla. In its fascinating detours and observations, we gain an understanding of the meticulousness of Almereyda’s research, his eye for strange and revealing details, and his unique way of blending the past and the present, the historical and the speculative, the intimate and the monumental. It’s a joy to spend time with an artist for whom filmmaking and criticism are so richly intertwined.”

—Andrew Chan, critic and web editor at the Criterion Collection

“Candid and poignant, Almereyda's account of Tesla and himself is illuminating, ironic and intimate. Acrobatic without pretense or strain. A joy to read. (A book to keep.)”

—Hampton Fancher, screenwriter of Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049

“You will find books about Nikola Tesla that describe him as a genius, even an extraterrestrial, but none that really capture him as a human being. Michael Almereyda, having spent decades writing, re-writing and eventually directing a film about Tesla, shows us why. He examines the facts and myths (many Tesla-created) from every angle, resulting in a book of reflections and refractions that, taken together, encompass the inventor, the filmmaker, and the film in one remarkable multifaceted work.”

—Carter Burwell

About The Author / Editor

Michael Almereyda in New York in 1981, the year he completed his first Tesla screenplay. Photo: Tom Jenkins. Michael Almereyda has written and directed fourteen feature films, most recently Cymbeline, Experimenter, Marjorie Prime, Escapes, and Tesla. He has edited and contributed essays for books on Vladimir Mayakovsky, William Eggleston, Manny Farber, and Garry Winogrand.

Read An Excerpt

Chapter 1: NASTY MICROBES

Nikola Tesla in January, 1894. “First photograph ever taken by phosphorescent light.”

What drew me to Nikola Tesla when I was a teenager, more than forty years ago, is not quite the same as what drew me to make a movie about him in 2019, and the coordinates shifted altogether during 2020, a shared hallucination of a year, when this book was written and time, it’s been commonly agreed, feels different: muffled, staggered, destabilized, alternately freezing and skipping forward, as we’ve found ourselves jostled between quarantine and protest, detachment, division, and some semblance of solidarity.

I haven’t been able to resist thinking about how I’d make my film over again, if I could start fresh or simply apply a new coat of paint. I’d pretty surely pay more heed to Tesla’s germaphobia. In My Inventions, the autobiography serialized in Electrical Experimenter magazine in 1919, written when Tesla was sixty-two (startlingly, not much older than I am now), he describes his experience with cholera, when an epidemic descended upon his home town of Gospic, in what’s now Croatia. He was eighteen, returning from school:

It is incredible how absolutely ignorant people were as to the causes of this scourge…They thought that the deadly agents were transmitted thru the air and filled it with pungent odors and smoke. In the meantime they drank infested water and died in heaps. I contracted the dreadful disease on the very day of my arrival and although surviving the crisis I was confined to bed for 9 months with scarcely any ability to move. My energy was completely exhausted and for the second time I found myself at Death’s door. In one of the sinking spells which was thought to be the last, my father rushed into the room. I still see his pallid face as he tried to cheer me in tones belying his assurance. “Perhaps,” I said, “I may get well if you will let me study engineering.”

That is an origin story, of a kind, building on Tesla’s first visit “at death’s door,” just a few years earlier, when he was fifteen, bedridden with malaria. (The malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes, had lingered, leaving him particularly vulnerable to cholera.) Images of lethal micro-organisms chased Tesla throughout his life. In Paris, shortly before leaving for the U.S. in 1884, with an introduction to Thomas Edison in hand, he worked with a scientist studying the properties of drinking water. As recounted in a letter written sixteen years later to his friend Robert Underwood Johnson, the invitation to look through a microscope perpetually heightened Tesla’s horror of germs:

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