Book Book Book Book
Commentary Commentary RSS Reviews Podcasts_Audio Podcasts RSS Blog Links Archives Indexes

06-21-12: Live Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson at Capitola Book Café, June 16, 2012



"...it's a somewhat Utopian situation in space, and still a somewhat grim and screwed up situation on Earth..."

—Kim Stanley Robinson

In the statement above, is Kim Stanley Robinson describing the present or the future? That's not an easy call until you hear it in context. In this case, the future as written in his latest novel '2312' is certainly an outgrowth of the present, and there is more than enough "funhouse mirror" material in the novel to let you know Robinson has a lot to say about how things are here in the present.

It has been almost a year since I last spoke with Robinson and it was ever so kind of him to battle apocalyptic traffic to make it to the Capitola Book Café for a live conversation about his latest novel, '2312.' For a book that is chock-a-block with ambition, it is a really a racing, bracing read; I read most of it in a single day. That should signal readers that Robinson is hitting the sweet spot with both content and pacing. This is big-idea science fiction that doubles as pacey thriller.

Robinson is more than a great writer, however; he's an articulate spokesman for the ideas behind his writing. Speaking with him in front of an audience, you get that sense of oratory that you might not get in a one-on-one in the studio. You can hear our conversation, and the Q & A afterwards by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




06-20-12 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 49: Richard Ford, 'Canada'

Click image for audio link.

Here's the forty-ninth episode of my new series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. 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 forty-ninth episode is a look at Richard Ford, 'Canada.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 49: Richard Ford, 'Canada.'



06-18-12: A 2012 Interview with Peter Carey

Click image for audio link.

"...a story which was about the wild, wild, very beautiful thrilling inventions..."

—Peter Carey

I've wanted to speak with Peter Carey for quite some time now; longer than I actually knew. When I saw that he would be in town for his latest novel, 'The Chemistry of Tears,' I made sure to get in the queue before I even had a chance to find out what the book was about.

The book turns out to be tailor made for my sensibilities, with a measured, artful dose of the fantastic and a basis in reality. The mcguffin at the heart of 'The Chemistry of Tears' is based on The Digesting Duck, a real automaton created in 1738 by Jacques de Vaucanson. But Carey has a lot more on his mind than historical fiction. He sets his controls for the center of the human heart.

As I did a bit of research for the interview, I learned that Carey's first novel, 'Bliss,' was the basis for a 1985 movie that I had seen when it first came out and never forgotten. Carey himself co-wrote the screenplay with director Ray Lawrence. It's the story of a man who briefly dies as the result of a heart attack, and upon being resuscitated, believes that he is in Hell. It's hard to argue with that sort of logic.

Talking with Carey was a bit too easy, as we ran rather long. Howard, the engineer at KQED, is ever too kind in this regard. Carey told me about the "sci-fi B-Movie" premise from which the book began its life, and the very real fears that literally drove its creation. Even though the novel is not particularly historical, there certainly was a bit of research required to get the clockwork right. You can hear Peter Carey and I have a bit too much fun by following this link to the MP3 audio file.



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

Commentary & Podcast Archive

Archives Indexes How to use the Agony Column Contact Us About Us