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07-21-13 UPDATE: Podcast Update:Time to Read Episode 109: Brendan I. Koerner

Here's the one-hundred and 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 one-hundred and ninth episode is a look at Brendan I. Koerner, 'The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking''.

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 109: Brendan I. Koerner: 'The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking'.




07-20-13: A 2013 Interview with Austin Grossman

Click image for audio link.

"...in videogames, you're constantly having to re-think what your idea of story is..."

—Austin Grossman

I first spoke with Austin Grossman back in late 2007 for NPR [link to NPR report] about his first novel, 'Soon I Shall Be Invincible.' It was a book I loved and I was really looking forward to our conversation about 'You,' his excellent follow up.

When we first spoke, we had talked about the influence of his work in video games on 'Soon I Shall Be Invincible.' This time around the story was set in the world of video games, and Grossman was engaged in the tricky task of writing a story about the creation of a new storytelling medium. I spoke with him at his hotel room in San Francisco, with a spectacular view in the background. Of course it was obliterated by the story in the foreground.

In his collection 'A Perfect Vacuum,' Stanislaw Lem wrote a satiric review of a novel titled Toi (You), written entirely in the second person. Grossman did not go this far; most of this book is told by Russell in the first person. But there are plenty of "in-game" portions written in the second person.

The result of this composition and process was that our interview has a rather recursive feel to it. Essentially Iwas asking Austin to tell me some stories about how he told stories about the storytelling medium he helped to create. More than most, this interview required some pretty careful delineations on my part as I tried to cut down my questions ins parse-able bits that could actually be answered.

A conversation with Grossman is filled with a sort of crackling energy. 'You' is a rather complicated piece of writing and putting it together was not an easy task. Taking it apart to reverse engineer it in the interview was no easier, but was really fun. Each of the layers of this novel, and there are many offers a thread one can follow though and follow up on.

For this reader, it was interesting to hear how the other half lived, so speak, because in the hears while Grossman was working in the videogame industry I was working as a Sysdmin in the electronic music and computer sound industry. Both combine the arts and technology, or more correctly, I suppose try to reconcile them. This sort of reconciliation does not come easily.

You can hear my conversation with Austin Grossman by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




07-16-13 UPDATE: Podcast Update:Time to Read Episode 108: Austin Grossman

Here's the one-hundred and eighth 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 one-hundred and eighth episode is a look at Austin Grossman, 'You'.

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 108: Austin Grossman: 'You'.




07-15-13: A 2013 Interview with Ryan Coonerty

Click image for audio link.
"...being naked can be a pretty scary thing..."

—Ryan Coonerty

Ryan Coonerty and I are sitting in a mini-meeting room at NextSpace in Santa Cruz, to talk about 'The Rise of the Naked Economy: How to Benefit from the Changing Workplace,' the book he co-wrote with NextSpace co-founder Jeremy Neuner. It's the perfect setting, because NextSpace is in fact a small pocket of the future described in the book.

I rather enjoyed reading 'Naked,' even if I did feel like a Tyrannosaurus Rex perusing '100 Things You Should Know About Dinosaurs.' I certainly enjoyed discussing the book with Coonerty who is every bit as smart and animated as his book. While our conversation covered some of the topics of the book, I trust that listeners will for the most part get the feel of the book — it's fast, intelligent and engaging. But it takes no prisoners in terms what it's describing and it makes no promises that everybody is going to be okey-dokey.

For this reader and interviewer, there was more than a bit of discomfort in the mix. 'Naked' makes perfect sense, and does so in an entertaining manner. Coonerty makes even more sense and is even more entertaining. We had a hell of a good time talking about how the past (folks like myself) is all but gone, and how inviting and exciting the future is for those who have one. I'm not sure I fit into the latter category, but that doesn't stop me from having a fine conversation about it.

Coonerty definitely knows whereof he speaks. NextSpace is an extremely cool place to be, even if you're not cool yourself. The idea here is that you can have a place away from home to work where you interact with people who may or may not be in the same game you're in, but who at least have their lives together enough to be able to afford the place and get things done. You can see and hear the cooperative day-after-tomorrow feel in action. There are couches and areas that simulate living rooms with office-like desks set around. There's a super high-speed network, wired and wireless. Everybody is friendly when they're not buried in their own work. Throw in some aliens and it's the work version of the bar in Star Wars. There are a few NextSpaces sprinkled around the country now, and one can only presume that this is a growth market. It seems certainly to be the case after you've read the book.

Reading the book is highly recommended if you want to find yourself in a NextSpace or embark upon a viable version of what we dinosaurs called a "career." You can listen to Ryan Coonerty give you many good reasons to read 'Naked,' so that you will feel less so, by following this link to the MP3 audio fossil.



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

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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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