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

04-21-14: Commentary : Lorrie Moore 'Bark' : Undoing the World

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Lorrie Moore : "..when you read really trashy newspapers about people killing each other and all, they're usually in the midst of a divorce."

04-19-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 157: Lorrie Moore : Bark

04-16-14: Commentary : Michael Katakis Lets Fall 'A Thousand Shards of Glass' : Missives from a Parallel World

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Michael Katakis : "..we haven't lived up to what people's illusions and dreams are..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 156: Michael Katakis : A Thousand Shards of Glass

04-02-14: Commentary : David Rich Steps in as 'Middle Man' : Spy Novels for the 21st Century

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with David Rich : "...so much is known so quickly..."

04-01-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 155: David Rich : Middle Man

03-29-14: Commentary : Carol Cassella Mirrors 'Gemini' : Two Places at Once

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Carol Cassella : "... we could provide good care for everyone..."

03-26-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2005 Interview with Lucius Shepard : "It's an urban war in Iraq."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 154: Carol Cassella : Gemini

03-20-14: Commentary : Dave Barry Warns 'You Can Date Boys When You're Forty' : Five Star General Humor

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Dave Barry : "...you have the right to demand that they grope your genitals manually..."

03-19-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 153: Dave Barry : You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About

03-17-14: Commentary : Michael Marshall (Smith) Sees 'Bad Things' : Dark of the Heart

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Three Books With Alan Cheuse : Elizabeth Spencer, 'Starting Over: Stories'; James Magnuson, 'Famous Writers I Have Known'; Dasa Drndic 'Trieste'

03-11-14: Commentary : Ian Rankin Ordains 'Saints of the Shadow Bible' : Standing in the Shadow of the Past

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Ian Rankin : "...I knew that he would not want to leave the police force..."

03-10-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 152: Ian Rankin : Saints of the Shadow Bible

03-04-14: Commentary : Michio Kaku Foresees 'The Future of the Mind' : Form Follows Function

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Michio Kaku : "But I'm a physicist..."

03-02-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 151: Michio Kaku : The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind

02-25-14: Commentary : Annie Jacobsen Files 'Operation Paperclip' : History as Thrilling Literature

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Annie Jacobsen : "Hitler's top scientists became America's own."

02-23-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, Part 2 : "...still clear distribution lines for books...."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 150: Annie Jacobsen : Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America

02-20-14: Commentary : Jeff VanderMeer Seeks 'Annihilation' : Creative Destruction

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, Part 1 : "...obviously, something is subverting the landscape..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 149: Jeff VanderMeer : Annihilation

02-14-14: Commentary : Jenny Offill Engages 'Dept. of Speculation' :The Domestic Descent

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jenny Offill : "..where did the rest of me go?"

02-13-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 148: Jenny Offill : Dept. of Speculation

02-10-14: Commentary : Kelly Corrigan's 'Glitter and Glue' : Remembering Forward

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kelly Corrigan : "You just hope you get to have that whole second act with your children."

02-08-14: Commentary : My Life in the Bush of Books : Life as an Internet Failure Edition

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 147: : Glitter and Glue: A Memoir

02-06-14: Commentary : Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois Bake 'The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day' : Cheese, Beer and a Crock Pot

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois : "I knew it wouldn't work."

02-03-14: Commentary : Jane Pauley Hears 'Your Life Calling' : Crossing an Economic Singularity

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jane Pauley : "..it suddenly hit me; I almost cried..."

Commentary & Podcast Archive

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