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09-19-13: A 2014 Interview with Walter Mosley

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"... it was him saying what he felt, but for me it was a revelation about what I felt..."

— Walter Mosley

I've spoken with Walter Mosey a few times and enjoyed them all, but once we sat down to talk about 'Debbie Doesn't Do it Anymore,' it seemed to me that from the very first moment, we were significantly upping our game. I have to say I was more than shocked; I loved the book that it didn't seem like a subject that would be ideal for a radio interview.

No matter, it was a book for shattering expectations. I'm sure that part of the issue is that most press outlets looked at the précis for the novel and were frightened or disinclined to discuss it based on the subject. Obviously with a podcast, I have no limitations, but I also like to broadcast my work on The Agony Column Literary Magazine for NPR affiliate KUSP. So I, too, had some reservations, which were quickly left behind by virtue of the facts that a) the novel is superb, and not that you expect [Surprise! You have to read it to get that!] and b) Mosley is an outstanding thinker and speaker.

There are a lot of great twists in the plot of the novel, none of which we really talked about. Instead, we spoke to the themes, including the great American theme of re-invention. Mosey brought up one of my favorite all-time literary characters in this context and it is very relevant; Herman Melville's 'Bartleby the Scrivener.' I suppose it is never too late have my "I would prefer not to." t-shirt made.

Anytime you talk to Walter Mosley, you can also address the million-and-one things he has in the hopper. To with, this time around, a new play, a new TV series for HBO, a new Easy Rawlins novel that is already getting accolades because I was (and I apologize for this) so slow in getting this interview posted. But quality speaks for itself. I'll let Walter Mosley prove that by letting him speak for himself, in this link to the MP3 audio file.




09-18-14 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 173: Walter Mosley, 'Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore'

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Here's the one-hundred seventy-third episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the three-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 of the game, but who knows what the hell might happen. I am hoping to stay back up and stumbling.

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 seventy-third episode is a look at Walter Mosley and 'Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 173: Walter Mosley, 'Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore'




09-17-14: A 2014 Interview with Lisa See

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"..it's not my worldview, but it was the worldview at that time..."

Lisa See

Lisa See manages to pull off some tough scenes in 'China Dolls.' There are, of course, lots of fun spots, crazy nightclub acts and engaging nightclub owners and performers. But when Pearl Harbor happens... turns out we didn't act much better then than we did after 9/11. And See understood the parallels going in.

See's really an engaging speaker, and it was quite fun to talk to her before her appearance at Bookshop Santa Cruz. It's also great to hear her talk about how she wrote the novel. When we read it now, the structure seems utterly natural, but See told me it was not always what we read here. She gave me some great insights into how a novel can force itself to become something other than the author's original intentions, and how an author's inclinations can work themselves into a novel in spite of her intentions.

See's previous novel had been so dark, she told me, that she found herself layong on the couch just trying to return from the places her writing took her. For years, she said, her fans and readers had been telling her about these acts and the world she explores in 'China Dolls.' It sounded like a more fun project and then she hit on a voice. After that it seemed to write itself, until it was time for the book to re-write itself.

There is, of course, a lot of research that goes into a novel like this, and See shared with me her methods and talked about the rich sources out there. Even here in the early 21st century, the process of writing a novel can benefit from looking beyond the Internet.

Readers can hear an engaging conversation with Lisa See that may have them scurrying to buy 'China Dolls' by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




09-16-14 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 172: Lisa See, 'China Dolls'

Click image for audio link.
Here's the one-hundred seventy-second episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the two(three[?])-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'm way behind, but who knows what the hell might happen. I am hoping to get back up and stumbling. I have lots of great books in the hopper to review and lots of great interviews to podcast.

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 seventy-second episode is a look at Lisa See and 'China Dolls.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 172: Lisa See, 'China Dolls'




09-15-14: A 2014 Interview with Alan Cheuse

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"...one of the first books I ever wrote was a Bobbsey Twins novel..."

— Alan Cheuse

And alas, that novel is lost in time; Alan claims, at least he did in our live interview at Bookshop Santa Cruz, not to remember the title or the name under which it was written. And that, listeners is why it is always fun to talk to Alan Cheuse. The dean of book reviewing for NPR has a lot more up his sleeve than you would expect, as evidence in 'An Authentic Captain Marvel Ring and Other Stories,' his latest collection.

This conversation starts with Alan reading the full story "Nailed' from his collection. It's hilarious and exactly NOT the sort of story you'd expect him to write. We discussed the story after he read and he quickly offered an antidote for normal radio. All we need, he said is for someone to give NPR about a billion dollars. With that, we can get the kind of uncensored radio you can hear in these podcasts, and even more. If there were a place for writers to air their thoughts beyond the printed page, believe me they would come.

Alan and I also took some time to talk about new books, giving the listeners a live version of Three Books With Alan Cheuse. You can hear all this and more, including audience questions, by following this link to the MP3 audio file.



New to the Agony Column

09-19-14: Commentary : Walter Mosley's 'Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore' : In the Flattened Light of Life

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Live Interview with Walter Mosley : "... it was him saying what he felt, but for me it was a revelation about what I felt..."

09-18-14:Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 173: Walter Mosley : Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore

09-17-14: Commentary : Lisa See Collects 'China Dolls' : Voice Power

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Live Interview with Lisa See : "..it's not my worldview, but it was the worldview at that time..."

09-16-14: Commentary : Lauren Beukes Illuminates 'The Shining Girls' : A Glimpse of Grubby Terror

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 172: Lisa See : China Dolls

09-15-14: Commentary : Alan Cheuse Reveals 'An Authentic Captain Marvel Ring and Other Stories' : Infinite Worlds Within

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Live Interview with Alan Cheuse : "...one of the first books I ever wrote was a Bobbsey Twins novel..."

09-10-14: Commentary : Nick Harkaway Unleashes 'Tigerman' : The Heart of the Hero

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Nick Harkaway : "...we do a lot of policy-based evidence making here..."

09-08-14: Commentary : Alastair Reynolds 'On the Steel Breeze' : Everything and More

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 171: Nick Harkaway : Tigerman

08-08-14: Commentary : Alastair Reynolds 'Blue Remembered Earth' : Diffident Utopia

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Alastair Reynolds : "...the first book was going to contain about a hundred years of implicit future history..."

07-11-14: Commentary : Roz Chast Asks 'Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?' : NO

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Roz Chast : "...I had no idea of how it worked because we had never talked about it."

07-08-14:Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 170: Roz Chast : Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

06-30-14: Commentary : Alan Furst Passes 'Midnight in Europe : Wrong Side of War

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Alan Furst : "...certain periods are echoic..."

06-29-14:Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 169: Alan Furst : Midnight in Europe

06-27-14: Commentary : Sarah Lotz Counts 'The Three' : The Uses of Fear

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Sarah Lotz : "...people need answers..."

06-25-14:Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 168: Sarah Lotz : The Three

06-21-14: Commentary : Steven Galloway Conjures 'The Confabulist' : Creating Harry Houdini

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Steven Galloway : "...so much has been written about Harry Houdini..."

06-18-14: Commentary : Raymond B. Russell Heralds 'The Dark Return of Time' : An Atmosphere of Crime

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Thomas Frank on Parlor Tricks : "Off With Their Heads!"

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 167: Steven Galloway : The Confabulist

06-16-14: Commentary : Geoff Dyer Has 'Another Great Day at Sea' : The Steel Beach Party

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Geoff Dyer : "..but it was as nothing compared to the noise of planes landing..."

06-15-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 166: Geoff Dyer : Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush

06-09-14: Commentary : Colson Whitehead Does 'The Noble Hustle' : Incandescent Memories of the Future

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Colson Whitehead : "...I won five dollars, and from then on..."

06-08-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 165: Colson Whitehead : The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Deaths

06-02-14: Commentary : Kaui Hart Hemmings Explores 'The Possibilities' : Framing Life

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kaui Hart Hemmings : "I burned that copy and started fresh."

05-31-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 164: Kaui Hart Hemmings : The Possibilities

05-26-14: Commentary : Kent A. Kiehl Heeds 'The Psychopath Whisperer' : Prison of the Mind

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kent A. Kiehl : "How do you measure the cost of those sixteen homicides?"

05-21-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 163: Kent A. Kiehl, PhD : The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience

05-19-14: Commentary : Justin Go Clocks 'The Steady Running of the Hour' : Time-Crossed Lovers and Wars

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Justin Go : "... there was always something that had to happen ..."

05-15-14: Commentary : Jeff VanderMeer Grants 'Authority' : The Parallax Views

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer : "...the land people don't talk to the sky people don't talk to the water people..."

05-13-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 162: Justin Go : The Steady Running of the Hour

05-12-14: Commentary : Matt Taibbi Views 'The Divide' : Zero-Sum Economic Morality

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Matt Taibbi : "... the biggest bank robbery in the history of the world ..."

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