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02-23-14 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 150: Annie Jacobsen, 'Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America'

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Here's the one-hundred fiftyth 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 fiftyth episode is a look at Annie Jacobsen and 'Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 150: Annie Jacobsen, 'Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America'




02-23-14: A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, Part 2

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"...still clear distribution lines for books...."

Jeff VanderMeer

While I had Jeff VanderMeer's attention to discuss 'Annihilation' and 'Authority,' I also wanted to take the time to talk to him about his latest co-edit project with with his wife Ann, a mega-thick anthology coming soon, 'The Time Traveler's Almanac.' I also thought it would be a good time to catch up with Jeff about the ever-changing landscape of publishing.

It might be a bit hard to remember now, but VanderMeer was in the business of self-publishing long before it was just a mouse-click away at *.*. In the intervening years, book publishing has faced the same set of problems that the music business managed to use to immolate itself back in the before-time. While big business (and smaller) publishers and independent bookstores haven't done everything perfectly, they've done rather well. They're not out there suing their customers for income.

Our discussion of putting together doorstop anthologies yielded a lot of fascinating talk, if you're into that kind of geekery. You should own 'The Weird,' and if you do, you'll note that it's definitely not justa compendium of stories by The Usual Suspects. And getting the diverse kind of author list therein involves stories pretty entertaining in themselves.

As for the publishing and self-publishing world, it has been transformed since Jeff and I last spoke about such matters. As you might imagine, VanderMeer is well ahead of the game. We touched on the subject of how readers will choose from the huge supply of material out there and how writers might aim at readers, and more importantly, why.

You can hear my second conversation with Jeff VanderMeer by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




02-20-14 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 149: Jeff VanderMeer, 'Annihilation'

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I know, these are supposed to come first, but it's been busy here, in the best possible way. At least I'm in the position to share in the embarrassment of riches!

Here's the one-hundred forty-ninth 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 of 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-ninth episode is a look at Jeff VanderMeer and 'Annihilation.' It's a live perforemance version.

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 149: Jeff VanderMeer, 'Annihilation'




02-20-14: A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, Part 1

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"...obviously, something is subverting the landscape..."

— Jeff VanderMeer

It's one thing to read Jeff VanderMeer's 'Annihilation.' Disquieting and engrossing come to mind as descriptors. It's quite another to talk to him about it in your living room, while your two pugs tear around the room like the wild animals they definitely are not.

I was in fact lucky enough to have both experiences, though I must admit I might have preferred the pugs to have remained more in their usual dozing state. But when you're lucky enough to get a visit from Jeff VanderMeer, it comes as no surprise that the dogs get agitated. To be honest, I thought you'd be able to hear them quite clearly on the recording, but that proves not to be the case.

It was a nice day and Jeff and I had plans to take a tour of a local spot I thought would be of interest to him; our cement boat, the S. S. Palo Alto. It's a great piece of rotting World War I weaponry where they used to have a dance hall. Now it's home to the cormorants and, if we're lucky, the sea lions. Check out VanderMeer's trip blog for some photos.

But before our hobnobbing about the Santa Cruz area and a long lunch on the Santa Cruz Wharf, Jeff and I took the time for two interviews. In the first interview, we focused on 'Annihilation' and to a degree, the first sequel, 'Authority.' For me the books are a fascinating look at what I used to call "omenology," a sort of reading of the landscape for presences that are not apparent, for meanings that are not deliberate.

Apparently, and interestingly to me, there's a lot of "this book is like that [fill in the blank]" going on with 'Annihilation,' and I don't really think it's all that pertinent, other than that VanderMeer, consciously or not. is working in a well-established sub-genre; the literature of the weird place. I asked VanderMeer about this, and he noted that there had been comparisons to Tarkovsky's movie Stalker. Apparently those doing the comparing were not aware (or didn't mention) that Stalker is based on a wonderful (but very different) novel titled 'Roadside Picnic,' by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, who also wrote the screenplay. The premise of the book does have a bit of simpatico with VanderMeer's 'Annihilation,' only in that humanity trying to understand the alien zones is likened to ants, trying to understand the trash from a roadside picnic. Good luck with that!

To my mind, VanderMeer's book is pretty immune to influence, other than that of the landscape within which he lives. You can hear us talk about the book (and perhaps a bit of pug snorting) by following this link to the MP3 audio file.



New to the Agony Column

04-16-14: Commentary : Michael Katakis Lets Fall 'A Thousand Shards of Glass' : Missives from a Parallel World

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Michael Katakis : "..we haven't lived up to what people's illusions and dreams are..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 156: Michael Katakis : A Thousand Shards of Glass

04-02-14: Commentary : David Rich Steps in as 'Middle Man' : Spy Novels for the 21st Century

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with David Rich : "...so much is known so quickly..."

04-01-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 155: David Rich : Middle Man

03-29-14: Commentary : Carol Cassella Mirrors 'Gemini' : Two Places at Once

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Carol Cassella : "... we could provide good care for everyone..."

03-26-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2005 Interview with Lucius Shepard : "It's an urban war in Iraq."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 154: Carol Cassella : Gemini

03-20-14: Commentary : Dave Barry Warns 'You Can Date Boys When You're Forty' : Five Star General Humor

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Dave Barry : "...you have the right to demand that they grope your genitals manually..."

03-19-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 153: Dave Barry : You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About

03-17-14: Commentary : Michael Marshall (Smith) Sees 'Bad Things' : Dark of the Heart

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Three Books With Alan Cheuse : Elizabeth Spencer, 'Starting Over: Stories'; James Magnuson, 'Famous Writers I Have Known'; Dasa Drndic 'Trieste'

03-11-14: Commentary : Ian Rankin Ordains 'Saints of the Shadow Bible' : Standing in the Shadow of the Past

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Ian Rankin : "...I knew that he would not want to leave the police force..."

03-10-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 152: Ian Rankin : Saints of the Shadow Bible

03-04-14: Commentary : Michio Kaku Foresees 'The Future of the Mind' : Form Follows Function

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Michio Kaku : "But I'm a physicist..."

03-02-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 151: Michio Kaku : The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind

02-25-14: Commentary : Annie Jacobsen Files 'Operation Paperclip' : History as Thrilling Literature

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Annie Jacobsen : "Hitler's top scientists became America's own."

02-23-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, Part 2 : "...still clear distribution lines for books...."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 150: Annie Jacobsen : Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America

02-20-14: Commentary : Jeff VanderMeer Seeks 'Annihilation' : Creative Destruction

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, Part 1 : "...obviously, something is subverting the landscape..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 149: Jeff VanderMeer : Annihilation

02-14-14: Commentary : Jenny Offill Engages 'Dept. of Speculation' :The Domestic Descent

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jenny Offill : "..where did the rest of me go?"

02-13-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 148: Jenny Offill : Dept. of Speculation

02-10-14: Commentary : Kelly Corrigan's 'Glitter and Glue' : Remembering Forward

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kelly Corrigan : "You just hope you get to have that whole second act with your children."

02-08-14: Commentary : My Life in the Bush of Books : Life as an Internet Failure Edition

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 147: : Glitter and Glue: A Memoir

02-06-14: Commentary : Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois Bake 'The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day' : Cheese, Beer and a Crock Pot

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois : "I knew it wouldn't work."

02-03-14: Commentary : Jane Pauley Hears 'Your Life Calling' : Crossing an Economic Singularity

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jane Pauley : "..it suddenly hit me; I almost cried..."

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