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10-22-14: A 2014 Phone Interview with Azar Nafisi

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"..trying to create a reality which had not existed before..."

—Azar Nafisi

I took a few minutes today to speak with Azar Nafisi about her remarkable book, 'Republic of the Imagination: America in Three Books,' in advance of her arrival here next week to speak at Bookshop Santa Cruz.

This is a truly wonderful book for readers. It seems that this is the season of re-reading, and in this case, a rabble-rousing call to arms for readers. It does not matter what genre you think you do o0r do not read, this book gets right to the point about reading, and any reader cannot help but find it heartening and invigorating.

Readers who want to hear just why they should run and not walk to make sure and see Azar when she is where ever they may be need but follow this link to the MP3 audio file of our phone call.




10-20-14: A 2014 Interview with William T. Vollmann

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"...that's the choice we make with death..."
—William T. Vollmann

I had about 40 pounds of thick, award-winning books with me when I went to speak to William T. Vollmann. I must admit to being nervous. He was a man who pulled prestigious honors from the air, and I was here to talk to him about 'Last Stories and Other Stories,' a collection of work that could only be described as macabre fiction.

| Of course, he actually name-checks Lovecraft not once, but twice in the collection, so I might have had a clue that he and I were more on the same page than I expected. Then he answered a question I asked with a description of a Lord Dunsany story. What? Lord Dunsany? National Book Awarx Winner knows Lord Dunsany?

Here's where the interview took a turn for strange. I'm not used, and not really comfortable being asked questions by an interviewee, but Vollman put me on the spot and asked my favorite fantasy author. To be honest, I was stumped. I don't like "fantasy," and I know it's a big deal now with the motion picture and TV adaptations. I've seen enough medieval alternates. I thought about it a bit and finally choked out "Clark Ashton Smith." (And eventually Edward R. Whittemore.) But the latter led us down a path of no return.

I was in the presence of another who had been irrevocably changed by an early exposure to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy paperback line of the 1970's.

From then on, Vollmann and I had more and more fun as he talked about his love for David Lindsay ('A Voyage to Arcturus') and William Hope Hodgson, and how those works informed his work in this collection. "Being irrelevant is actually a great thing," he told me. "Then you can sort of float around, no one pays any attention to you, and you can watch the workings-out of life."

Far from being nervous as I left, I was ready to hoist a glass of Paulaner Premium beer with Vollmann and settle down for a long chat about the life after life. You can hear our conversation, sadly sans Premium, by following this link to the MP3 audio file.



New to the Agony Column

10-22-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Phone Interview with Azar Nafisi : "..trying to create a reality which had not existed before..."

10-20-14: Commentary : William T. Vollmann Tells 'Last Stories and Other Stories' : Atlas of the Afterlife

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with William T. Vollmann : "...that's the choice we make with death..."

10-19-14:Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 179: William T. Vollmann : Last Stories and Other Stories

10-16-14: Commentary : Alix Christie Hires 'Gutenberg's Apprentice' : Fifteenth Century Start-Ups

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Alix Christie : "This was the world's first tech start-up."

10-15-14:Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 178: Alix Christie : Gutenberg's Apprentice

10-13-14: Commentary : Maureen Corrigan 'So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures' : The Power of Re-Reading

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Maureen Corrigan : "On his death in 1940, there were remaindered copies..."

10-08-14:Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 177: Maureen Corrigan : So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures

10-03-14: Commentary : Lawrence Wright ' Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David' : Suspension of Belief

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Lawrence Wright : "...peace is possible..."

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