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09-19-13 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 121: Jojo Moyes, 'The Girl You Left Behind'

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Here's the one hundred and twenty-first episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the two-year mark, I'm going to make an effort to stay ahead, so that podcast listeners can get the same sort of "sneak preview" effect that radio listeners get each Friday morning.

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 twenty-first episode is a look at Jojo Moyes and 'The Girl You Left Behind.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 121: Jojo Moyes, 'The Girl You Left Behind'




09-19-13: A 2013 Interview with Ian Tregillis

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"Gretl actually knew everything I knew..."

—Ian Tregillis

With 'Bitter Seeds,' 'The Coldest War' and now 'Necessary Evil,' Ian Tregillis managed to set a new standard for speculative fiction. When I sat down to talk with him, I felt a bit in danger of coming unstuck in time. But Tregillis is the most grounded, down-to-earth physicist I have ever met.

The real problem with discussing The Milkweed Triptych is that having read it, one wants to keep it as much a mystery as possible for other readers, so that they can enjoy the machinations of the both the author and the characters. The power of these books is that the reader feels that the characters are enough their own men and women to have their own plans, independent of the whims of readers or author.

Apparently one does not achieve that effect by guesswork or improvisation. I spoke with Tregillis about the import and participation of the community of science fiction and fantasy in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives and works. Tregillis has a fascinating story in this regard. These books got some help from those he worked with in the writing world.

One of the aspects of the creation of these books that we could talk about without ruining the story was the research that he did to bring the books to life. Here, he has some really great stories about the real inspirations for his imaginary world. To my mind, some of them sound like something from his imaginary world.

I was also curious about Tregillis' day job as a physicist at the Los Alamos Lab. As the source of much power — and terror in this world, these Labs might have played a key role in the books, and Tregillis has a great take on this as well.

I suppose it comes as no surprise that Ian Tregillis is smart and well spoken. There an air of informality in our conversation that I really liked. I'm already looking forward to his next novel and set of novels — yes, he works that far in advance — a well as our next conversation. I'm just hoping that I'm still in the timeline when the books come out.

You can hear my conversation with Ian Tregillis in this timeline by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




09-17-13 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 120: Ian Tregillis, 'Necessary Evil'

Click image for audio link.
Here's the one-hundred twentieth episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the one-year mark, I'm going to make an effort to stay ahead, so that podcast listeners can get the same sort of "sneak preview" effect that radio listeners get each Friday morning. This week, delays due to the fact that "this is how the world ends, not with a bang but a splinter," intervened. I am hoping to stay back up and running.

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 twentieth episode is a look at Ian Tregillis and 'Necessary Evil.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 120: Ian Tregillis, 'Necessary Evil'




09-16-13: A 2013 Interview with Margot Leitman

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"...the girl forever in the bottom half of a chicken-fight..."

— Margot Leitman

Margot Leitman's description of herself is in fact an alternate subtitle to 'Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase.' It's amazing then, to see her and hear her speak in person. She's so much at ease with herself that were she to be eleven feet tall and have two green heads, you probably wouldn't notice anything odd at all. Until she made a joke about it.

Leitman is a regular on The Moth, and her storytelling ability shows as we talk about how she crafted 'Gawky' in the empty tower room of a San Francisco skyscraper that looks as if it would be the centerpiece of a cop-shootout movie. Listeners can groove to the smooth sounds of whatever the hell music they were playing the background. In retrospect, it's practically inaudible, but in the moment it sounded like I was sitting in front of a loud rock band.

Nothing got in the way of Leitman's easy wit, however. She's really a smart writer for both spoken word live shows and for the printed page. Her incredible skill is evident in that there does not seem to be any daylight between the two experienced versions of the stories. She manages to convey her own easy-going, sort-of hyper tone in print. The book is just a hoot to read.

One of the things we came around to discuss was the audience for the book. I am probably about as far from the target audience as you might imagine, but I enjoyed the hell of out 'Gawky.' The shock to me was that this book is not being aimed like a cruise missile deep into the heart of American girl culture. This seems like an absolutely perfect book for that group.

One of the most interesting aspect of this book is the contrast between how "ring of truth" and natural it feels and how actually written it is. Leitman had to do a lot of work to make this all seem so seamless.

You can hear a lite pop backdrop and my conversation with Margot Leitman by following this link to the MP3 audio file.



New to the Agony Column

03-01-15: Commentary : William Ury on Getting to Yes with Yourself: And Other Worthy Opponents : To the BATNA, Robin!

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with William Ury : ...he proceeded to shout at me for approximately 30 minutes..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 198: William Ury : Getting to Yes with Yourself: And Other Worthy Opponents

02-22-15: Commentary : Jennifer Senior Experiences 'All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood' : Reading Fun for the Whole Fambly!

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Jennifer Senior : "...it becomes a source of enormous tension once a baby comes along..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 197: Jennifer Senior : All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood

02-09-15: Commentary : Stewart O'Nan Looks 'West of Sunset' : Twilight of the Great

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Stewart O'Nan : "...we see him as a tragedian because is life is a tragedy..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 196: Stewart O'Nan : West of Sunset

02-04-15: Commentary : Armistead Maupin Maps 'The Days of Anna Madrigal' : Swiftly Flow the Years

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Armistead Maupin : "I could see what silliness was going on while it was happening..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 195: Armistead Maupin : The Days of Anna Madrigal

01-31-15: Commentary : Christine Carter's Path to 'The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work' : Neurohabits

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Christine Carter, Ph.D. : "...a real tipping point..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 194: Christine Carter, Ph.D. : The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work

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

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