05-04-13 UPDATE:Podcast Update:Time to Read Episode 96: Glennon Doyle Melton 'Carry On, Warrior': Preview of Full-Length Interview to Premiere Monday
Here's the ninety-sixth 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.
05-04-13: A 2013 Telephone Interview with Benjamin Percy
Click image for audio link.
"I was thinking about what we fear right now."
Benjamin Percy's 'Red Moon' is a perfect example of the power of how a great writer can use the fantasy genre and elements of the fantastic to accomplish two very different goals. On one hand, he can craft and intense and involving thriller that keeps the pages turning just fast enough to be read, but not so fast that readers don't linger in his well-drawn characters' lives.
But on the other hand, 'Red Moon' is also a very cerebral novel of ideas, with a clear perception of how modern morals and mores channel our behavior for good or ill, mostly the latter. By using the werewolf to externalize our fear, to give form to our inner self-horror, Percy gets us think on a visual and symbolic level. The result is a very ple3asing frisson of understanding as the two elements of the novel wind together.
I managed to get Percy on the phone for an all-too-few brief minutes to talk about the ideas and concepts behind his work. Percy's novels deals with phenomena that I had not considered, and it was fascinating to hear him talk them out. The werewolf as conceived by Percy is a very utilitarian monster, as well as being pretty monsterific, the latter being very important so far as I'm concerned.
'Red Moon' is another of the new set of wide-screen, 1980's-style horror novels that are once again happily proving to be publishable. These are the kinds of books that can be read and re-read, because each reading yields a new nugget of vision. Before you read this one, you can get a heard start (sans any spoilers) as to where Percy is coming from by following this link to the MP3 audio file.
05-01-13: Rick Klaw Reads at SF in SF on April 20, 2013
Click image for audio link.
"...those are the kind of people that don't get work anymore..."
— Rick Klaw
Rick Klaw is a name you've seen on a lot of book covers, most recently, 'The Apes of Wrath,' a superb new anthology from Tachyon. I'll let him tell you about that; in a sense, at least. So what does an editor do at an event where he is to perform a "reading"?
There are a lot of possibilities. As one of the most prolific editors out there, Klaw's written lots of introductions to anthologiesm and he could easily have read one of these. But for all that readers like reading introductions — and we do — having one read to us at an event without getting a selection of the stories seems, well, underwhelming. And trust me, Rick Klaw is anything but underwhelming.
Klaw is, in fact, wildly exuberant, enthusiastic, up to the edge of hyperactive but not actively working there. So what Rick Klaw does is to give his audience something they really, really want to hear, but don't even know that they want to hear yet.
You can imagine — this is a very tough row to hoe.
But (throwing another metaphor into the Vitamix with the kale and spinach), Rick Klaw knocked this one out of the ballpark. For an audience of anthology readers, many of them writers who seek to contribute to anthologies, and to my wider audience, Rick Klaw offered the Mad Tyrant's Guide to Editing An Anthology, from the first pitch to the final inning. Klaw's presentation was fast, funny and a total home run.
Klaw is not a glad-hander. What you will hear in this podcast is not a happy-wappy guide to eternal writing joy. Klaw lays his nails and glass-shards out on the table, and gives you a guts-to-garters story of how an anthology is created, all within the framework of TAKING OVER THE WORLD. It's, funny, it's fresh, and I can guarantee that you;ve not heard anything like it before.
"...people are hesitant to make their own building into a ruin..."
— Ben Katchor
I had not yet twigged just yet to how much of a work of science fiction Ben Katchor's 'Hand Drying in America' was until I sat down to talk with him. It's a matter of degree; I might have thought that the fantastic aspects were there for fun, which they are. But Katchor is very deliberate about his creative imagination.
He and I talked about the inclinations that drive him to create his work. He's pretty straightforward about it. Ben Katchor is writing subversive science fiction hoping to tear apart the world and find a new, better one behind the walls. He's interested in writing subversive political stories, and averse to being imprisoned. It seems like a reasonable expectation to me.
Given that much of the work is visual, our challenges were many. But rather than spend too much time describing what was there, we tried to focus on how and why it got there. You'll find a smart use of color in these strips, something we covered at length.
Driving the work is a low-key subversive philosophy that Katchor talks about with great clarity. Were Katchor to beat his readers about the head with his beliefs, he feels he might drive them away. Instead he uses his fiction to make friends first, and get in our heads with the comic strip equivalent of a prion disease and ask questions later.
08-21-15: Agony Column Podcast News Report : Senator Claire McCaskill is 'Plenty Ladylike' : Internalizing Determination to Overcome Sexism [Incudes Time to Read EP 211: Claire McCaskill, Plenty Ladylike, plus A 2015 Interview with Senator Claire McCaskill]
Agony Column Podcast News Report : Emily Schultz Unleashes 'The Blondes' : A Cure by Color [Incudes Time to Read EP 210: Emily Schultz, The Blondes, plus A 2015 Interview with Emily Schultz]