11-07-13 UPDATE:Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 132: Dan Simmons, 'The Abominable'
Click image for audio link.
Here's the one-hundred thirty-second 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. This week, I seem to be on top opf the game, but who knows what the hell might happen. I am hoping to stay back up and stumbling.
"It was the most amazingly eventful and magical summer..."
Bill Bryson is a big deal; he's booked at Bookshop Santa Cruz, but they are holding the event at Santa Cruz High, where he'll discuss his new book, 'One Summer: America, 1927.' He's even got a minder from the publisher, Jenn Ramage, a fabulously talented interviewer who has worked with me at KUSP. The man himself is as personable as your favorite college professor.
My original hour setup has been twice truncated, and I'm on a timeline, which I respect and don't want to overstep. Plus there's a lot of material to talk about here, and not just in terms of the content, which is compelling and filled with the sort of wonderful details that make reading fun. I'm also interested in how Bryson creates these books.
To that end, I have a sort of theory; I think that Bryson is much like a scientist, whose medium is prose, not column of facts. The books are experiments, and his process to me seems like it must be scientific. Gather the facts, let them incubate in his mind, then grow the in the agar of prose. To me this all seems quite obvious, and I'm sure he's heard it a million times from interviewers. This proves not to be the case.
I did ask some questions about the stories he tells; of Lindbergh and his competitors. I was also curious about the déja vu factor, as there were many portions of the book whose problems seemed to be playing out in parallel at this moment. Bryson never pushes that in the book, and that's a very interesting effect. He must know that readers will have these thoughts, and each perception will be based on readers' experiences and opinions about what's going on in the present. It's almost as if he's erecting a prose canvas for us to paint our own fears and annoyances on, and it works so well because he leaves it deliberately, entirely blank.
Interviewing in a constrained allocation of time sharpens the mind, so to speak. I found myself skipping lightly through the book as we spoke about Bryon' fascinating vision of a young America that has not, as yet grown old. We're just as boisterous and stupid as we ever were. We're not doomed to repeat history. We love repeating history. There's money in nostalgia. To hear an audio repeat of recent history, just follow this link to the MP3 audio file on my conversation with Bill Bryson, which, did, after all, finished just a few minutes before his minder knocked on the door.
New to the Agony Column
07-11-15: Commentary : Robert Repino Morphs 'Mort(e)' : Housecat to Harbinger of the Apocalypse