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How to use the Agony Column

What it is

The Agony Column is a website, podcast and broadcast dedicated to books, reading, literature, writers, readers, bookstores, booksellers, publishers, artists, entertainers, entertainment and entertaining verbiage. The name of the site comes from those sections of the broadsheets where Sherlock Holmes searched for clues and clients; think of them as the Victorian craigslist.

We currently offer written and audio content updated at least five days a week. We offer extensive archives of book reviews and audio podcasts, each assigned to one or more genres. If you know what you want to find you can find it easily, and if you just want to browse a few clicks can take you anywhere in the literary world. This is a guide to the sections of the website. Take a few moments to read it, then dive in and enjoy. Everything is linked to an above-the-fold home page. If you have comments or questions, email us.


Here you'll find articles about current, past and upcoming books, with images and links. You'll also find editorials, commentary, and rants. We occasionally post literary HOWTOs and written or email interviews. This is a general purpose section, updated five days a week, or more if the literary news environment calls for it.

Book Reviews

Our book reviews are in-depth, single-title reviews in a standardized format. They are extensively cross-indexed by author and genre with multiple genre assignment where required. Each includes an image of the book; there may be more than a single review of a single book. Here's a link to the Review Archive, a master index of all books reviewed.

The Agony Column Weekly Broadcast

Each week on NPR Affiliate KUSP — 88.9 FM covering central California — Rick Kleffel broadcasts one hour of literary audio, including interviews with authors, publishers, editors, thinkers and literary professionals. In this box, you'll find out what's up next week. Rick Kleffel also does reports for National Public Radio shows including All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and others. When a new report is scheduled, you'll find out here how to visit the NPR Website to hear the report and provide comments to NPR. Here's a link to the current catalogue of my reports for NPR.

Podcasts /Interviews & Audio Essays

Five days a week we provide original literary content, writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, artists, entertainers, politicians, newsmakers, scientists — whoever has something interesting to say! Mondays we always run a long-form, in-depth interview. Tuesday through Friday, we may have more long-form interviews, or podcasts of NPR reports, or phone interviews, reports from live book events, audio book reviews, and thins never heard upon this earth. We proudly podcast the SF in SF shows, which feature readings, interviews and panel discussions by speculative fiction writers, moderated by Terry Bisson and hosted by Tachyon Publications and the Variety Children's Charity. Here's a link to the Audio interview Index, but don’t use it until you're in a position to download lots of audio.

Blog/Links : WYVT

Here's where I put links to book sales and events of note, those odd links that you get sent that are actually Worth Your Valuable Time. We may put reminders of upcoming podcasts and NPR reports here, or cute pictures of the dog. If you have something that you think is Worth Your Valuable time, send it along and if I Have Enough of My Valuable Time, I'll post it.


The Book Review Indexes are extensively cross-referenced and there are a lot of them. You can look at the Review Archive, which includes everything in the new review format. But if you just want to see science fiction titles (or at least what this website thinks of as science fiction titles and we're generous to say the least in our genre assignments), you can browse the Science Fiction Index; and there are indexes for each genre including Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Non-Fiction, General Fiction and Poetry.
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