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01-23-15: A 2014 Interview with Jake Halpern

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"...he goes to Las Vegas to this debt-buyers' convention..."

—Jake Halpern

Listen to Jake Halpern for about a minute, and you'll see where the incredible energy in 'Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld' comes from. This is one of those interviews where you'll hear his voice reading the book to you when you pick it up. If you wonder what exactly is meant by "coiled energy," Halpern's voice is a great definition.

Halpern combines that great voice with an equally great storytelling sensibility. His speaking and his prose voice are used to best advantage to take you on a journey to a world within our world that you might not ever have suspected could exist. I will warn readers that hearing this interview is very likely to make you want to buy and read the book. To me it has all the makings of a classic.

Jake and I talked about some of the nuts and bolts of the book, and some of the stories in the book, but as well we discussed the how and why of writing the book. In both cases, he's a great storyteller, offering insights into his characters as his means of creating them.

The story behind the book is nearly as wild as the story within the book. While you'd think all this reportage is just a bit (or really, a LOT) of pounding the pavements and knocking on door (and there is plenty of that), there is also a wild card in there that, well, just reeks of how we're doing crime in the 21st century. The Kinks have a good song about that; "Everybody's a dreamer / and everybody's a star /everybody's in showbiz / it doesn't matter who you are..."

Jake Halpern is really on to something in this book. I can't want for his next one. You can download your own personal file about stolen Excel files by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




01-23-15 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 193: Jake Halpern, 'Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld'

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Here's the one-hundred ninety-third episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the two-year mark, I'm going to make an effort to stay ahead, so that podcast listeners can get the same sort of "sneak preview" effect that radio listeners get each Friday morning. This week, I seem to be on top opf the game, but who knows what the hell might happen. I am hoping to stay back up and stumbling.

Stumbling is obviously the key word here, but I am trying to keep up with projects in the future as well as catch up with projects in the past. My apologies to Brian and the other Europe interviews that are taking so long to edit and get posted. I'm trying folks!

The podcasts/radio broadcasts will be of books worth your valuable reading time. I'll try to keep the reports under four minutes, for a radio-friendly format. If you want to run them on your show or podcast, let me know.

My hope is that in under four minutes I can offer readers a concise review and an opportunity to hear the author read from or speak about the work. I'm hoping to offer a new one every week.

The one-hundred ninety-third episode is a look at Jake Halpern and 'Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld.'.

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 193: Jake Halpern, 'Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld.'.




01-19-15: A 2014 Interview with David Shields and Caleb Powell

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"I read no book reviews any more; the level of discussion is really pedestrian."
—David Shields

"I'm just saying it's a conflict of interest!"
—Caleb Powell

I had so much fun talking with David Shields and Caleb Powell about their book, 'I Think You're Totally Wrong,' that it almost undermined the idea of the book being a quarrel And as an interviewer, these two made my job supremely easy when they weren't making it unexpectedly hard.

I'm just as lazy as the next guy, so one of the reasons that I dragged my heavy gear out to Union Square, parked in the bowels of the garage there, and then hauled the leaden cases up with me was that I was hoping for a snowball interview, which is to say that I hoped to be able to make a brief comment and then let the bickering begin.

This proved to work reasonably well, once, at least, the two of them built up a head of steam. It was also really, really fun; even while (here comes the dissonance) we were talking about abstract concepts and philosophies. But the interviewees started asking me questions, and in this format, my answers seemed a bit more relevant.

I certainly had a few bones to pick with their book. I run a website with all pretty positive reviews. a position that was dissed in the book. As so far as that goes, David Shields had a problem out of the box with my description of him as a polemicist. We had an argument out of the box, which was the point of both the interview and the book.

We also had more fun than we all expected, since we ran an easy hour. This is a dangerous interview. It will make you think strange thoughts and make you want to buy the book to craft stranger and stronger thoughts and disagreements with yourself and the world at large. Let me thank the authors for being so generous with the time and twitchiness. Prepare to quarrel by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




01-19-15 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 192: David Shields and Caleb Powell, 'I Think You're Totally Wrong'

Click image for audio link.
Here's the one-hundred ninety-second episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. these days I actually sort of perform them with the writers as a "lightning round" (thanks David Rich!) after the longer interview.

I try to keep these lighning round interviews under four minutes, for a radio-friendly format. If you want to run them on your show or podcast, let me know.

This edition of Time to Read includes two bits in one. It's entirely unedited, in keeping with the live format of the book. And it's 12 minutes long.

My hope is that (generally) in under four minutes I can offer readers a concise review and an opportunity to hear the author read from or speak about the work. I'm hoping to offer a new one every week.

The one-hundred ninety-second episode is a look at David Shields and Caleb Powell's book 'I Think You're Totally Wrong.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 192: David Shields and Caleb Powell, 'I Think You're Totally Wrong'.



New to the Agony Column

01-23-15: Commentary : Jake Halpern Pushes 'Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld' : Non-Fiction 21st Century Noir

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Jake Halpern : "...he goes to Las Vegas to this debt-buyers' convention..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 193: Jake Halpern : Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld

01-19-15: Commentary : David Shields and Caleb Powell Assert 'I Think You're Totally Wrong' : The Power to Bicker

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with David Shields and Caleb Powell : "I read no book reviews any more; the level of discussion is really pedestrian." David Shields "I'm just saying it's a conflict of interest!" Caleb Powell

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 192: David Shields and Caleb Powell : I Think You're Totally Wrong

01-17-15: Commentary : Charles Todd Expects 'A Fine Summer's Day' : We Interrupt This Program...

Commentary : Charles Todd Engages In 'A Test of Wills' : The Politics of Passion and Policing

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Charles and Caroline Todd : "...let them be themselves and sort it out..." Caroline Todd "...it's more on a personal level..." Charles Todd

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 191: Charles Todd : A Fine Summer's Day

01-13-15: Commentary : Rosalie Parker Unearths 'The Old Knowledge' : The New Old World

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Ray Russell and Rosalie Parker : "I thought I'd write something for fun.." Ray Russell "..there was a side of me of that was interested in the strangeness..." Ros Parker

01-12-15: Commentary : Richard Ford 'Let Me Be Frank with You' : The Default Years

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Richard Ford : "...most of our politicians are morons..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 190: Richard Ford : Let Me Be Frank with You

01-06-15: Commentary : Bessel van der Kolk 'The Body Keeps the Score' : Human Trauma

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Bessel van der Kolk : "...being able to see what happens in the brain really helps us to understand certain things..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 189: Bessel van der Kolk : The Body Keeps the Score

01-03-15: Commentary : Rebecca Lloyd 'Mercy and other Stories' : "You humans are practiced executioners." Zanti Leader, The Outer Limits

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Audio Review of Rebecca Lloyd 'Mercy and other Stories' : "Our knives and monsters are ever ready, and as real as we need them to be."

12-30-14: Commentary : Kathy Freston 'Quantum Wellness' : : Tipping Points

12-29-14: Commentary : Kathy Freston Embraces 'The Lean' : Series of Successive Approximations

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kathy Freston : "...visualize how you'd like your life to look..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 188: Kathy Freston : Quantum Wellness, Veganist and The Lean

12-19-14: Commentary : Mark Samuels 'Written in Darkness' : Sinkholes of Despair

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Audio Review of Mark Samuels 'Written in Darkness' : "This is an abyss that is not content to merely gaze back."

12-16-14: Commentary : Christopher Hobbs and Leslie Gardner 'Grow It, Heal It' : Natural and Effective Herbal Remedies from Your Garden or Windowsill

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Christopher Hobbs : "I want to integrate both the traditional uses and the traditional wisdom and knowledge and experience with modern science."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 187: Christopher Hobbs : Grow It, Heal It

12-09-14: Commentary : Tad Williams Is Caught 'Sleeping Late on Judgment Day' : As Below, So Above

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Tad Williams : ...Heaven and Hell couldn't be an open, on-going dramatic conflict; it would be more like the Cold War."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 186: Tad Williams : Sleeping Late on Judgment Day

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