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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.
"
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.



New to the Agony Column

04-21-15: Commentary : Kazuo Ishiguro Unearths 'The Buried Giant' : The Mist of Myth and Memory

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro : ".... by the time I was writing this novel, the lines between what was fantasy and what was real had blurred for me..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 202: Kazuo Ishiguro : The Buried Giant

04-17-15: Commentary : Erik Larson Follows a 'Dead Wake' : Countdown to Destiny

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Erik Larson : " "...said to have been found in the arms of a dead German sailor..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 201: Erik Larson : Dead Wake

04-15-15: Commentary : Peter Bell Reflects 'A Certain Slant of Light' : Strange Stories of Modern Scholars

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Peter Bell : "...I looked up some of the old books..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 200: Peter Bell : Strange Epiphanies and A Certain Slant of Light

03-14-15: Commentary : Marc Goodman Foresees 'Future Crimes' : Exponential Potential

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Marc Goodman : "...every physical object around us is being transformed, one way or another, into an information technology..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 199: Marc Goodman : Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It

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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