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01-19-14 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 143: Chang-rae Lee, 'On Such a Full Sea'

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Here's the one-hundred forty-third 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.

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 forty-third episode is a look at Chang-rae Lee and 'On Such a Full Sea.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 143: Chang-rae Lee, 'On Such a Full Sea'




01-19-14: A 2014 Live Conversation with Chang-rae Lee at Bookshop Santa Cruz

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"...the odd ends of human moments."
—Chang-rae Lee

Generally, I prefer to do the studio interview with an author before I do the live interview, if there is to be one. But if that can't happen, then one soldiers on, and with Chang-rae Lee at Bookshop Santa Cruz to talk about 'On Such a Full Sea,' it proved to be really easy.

'On Such a Full Sea' is a chameleonic mirror of a novel, and what you get out of it might depend on what you bring into it. I found it to be a great revision of the present, a sort of alternate now, and my questions for Chang-rae at Bookshop tended to reflect that.

Lee is has a nice rhythm to his speech that emerges in the chant-like prose of this novel, but also in his answers. We talked about his book not so much as a science fictional prediction of things to come, but as a vision of things as they are. We explored the prose and economics of the book, and his work writing this as an adventure for his daughter.
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I also wanted to talk about the use of We as the3 narrator, and the challenges he set himself with that choice. And not surprisingly, there were a chorus of great questions from the audience, which you can hear near the end of the recording.

To hear Chang-rae Lee live at Bookshop Santa Cruz, follow this link to the MP3 audio file.




01-15-14: A 2014 Phone Interview with Nathan Ballingrud

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"..a brush with the supernatural..."

—Nathan Ballingrud

Nathan Ballingrud's 'North American Lake Monsters' is a singular accomplishment, and I as gratified to speak with the author even though I spent months reading the book. That was simply because the stories were so brilliant and intense, I needed a break between them.

Even though the collection is nominally a work a supernatural stories, it doesn't feel like it, and I was interested in finding out how Ballingrud crafts his characters. He told me that he tries to shape his stories around characters would be on the sidelines in other stories. In a sense, this book reminds me of Russell Banks' 'A Permanent Member of the Family.' Both books look at the lower half of the economic ladder.

What I admire is that Ballingrud's characters are for the most part scraping the bottom of the barrel, or looking underneath, with regards to their economic and life prospects. These are people whose lives have topped off where many folks lives bottom out. It gives his work and the writer himself an interesting and gritty perspective.

It would be my estimation that this book is likely to become a real-deal collector's item; the quality is so high that it is very difficult to say which story is the best. It really depends on how yolu are feeling on any given day.

To hear how Nathan Ballingrud feels about the book, with some great advice on using the supernatural and character work, follow this link to the MP3 audio file.




01-15-14 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 142: Nathan Ballingrud, 'North American Lake Monsters', Special LIve Edition

Click image for audio link.
Here's the one-hundred forty-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.

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.

Rather than mine the interview for material, I did this Time to Read Episode as its own interview with new material.

The one-hundred forty-second episode is a look at Nathan Ballingrud and 'North American Lake Monsters.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 142: Nathan Ballingrud, 'North American Lake Monsters'




01-13-14: A 2013 Interview with David Sedaris

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"...three more steps, and you're at a komodo dragon eating a live deer."
—David Sedaris

It will come as no surprise that David Sedaris is easy to talk to. When we sat down to discuss 'Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls,' we were both quickly to our comfort zones; being crabby old men complaining about stuff and gawky kids talking about weird things.

Stuff included book touring, which, he indicated, is a big part of his life. So, it'd not surprising that the "forensics" in the book the fictional pieces wherein Sedaris takes on a voces anf goes with it for a few pages, came out of his tours. High school kids, he said, were reciting his stories for competitions, but in general they ran a bit too long. So he created these pieces, sorter and fictional, custom made for his readers-aloud.

Readers of this site over the years must have noticed that i have a soft spot for the grotesque and the weird. While I am not a "genre-only" site, I do talk to more genre writers than most general purpose sites. Long ago Sedaris sent me a postcard that convinced me to read 'World War Z,' This time around, we talked our interest in reptiles, and I could not stop myself rom talking about my favorite store in the Bay Area, the Vivarium, which is better than the zoo when it comes to reptiles.

And here is where I thank the folks at KQED who kept the tape running after I finished the interview and managed to capture our conversation afterwards about small planes and the problems of living near a very small airport.

To hear David Sedaris address komodo dragons and flying lawnmowers, follow this linik to the MP3 audio file.



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