Obsessive himself, Graham Moore, who won an Oscar for his screenplay The Imitation Game, immersed himself in 19th century Manhattan
to write The Last Days of Night (Random House 2016; $28), his historic tale about the lawsuit between two other obsessive and driven people–Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse–over who invented the lightbulb. Though it may seem like a minor question, the court’s decision would determine which of these powerhouses held the right to light up America and earn billions while doing so. It takes us to the time when darkness prevailed and people viewed Edison as “The Wizard” because of the magic of electricity.
“I am so paranoid that there’s something I missed,” says Moore, explaining why he spent a year and a half digging deep in archives, scientific and engineering journals of the time. It took another four years or so to write and even then Moore would often stop to peruse more census data or old newspapers. His book centers on 26-year-old Paul Cravath, a recent graduate of Columbia Law School who finds himself handling the lawsuit on behalf of Westinghouse.
Moore, a Chicago native and the New York Times bestselling author of The Sherlockian, sees some parallels between Cravath and himself.
“We were both the same age. When I started this book, I was just beginning my career as a writer; Paul was just starting his career, we were both trying to hold our own and not let them know we were afraid,” he says, adding that he’s a big admirer of the writing of Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City.
Though his book isn’t due to be released until the 16th, Moore is already working on the film adaptation. The movie stars one of Moore’s favorite actors, Eddie Redmayne.
“I’m very passionate about making popular art—films and books,” he says. “My great dream about this book is that it starts conversations—that it connects. I want to write fiction that invites people in.”
What: Oscar winner Graham Moore book signing
When: Thursday, August 8 at 7 p.m.
Where: The Book Cellar, 4736 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL
FYI: (773) 293-2665; bookcellarinc.com