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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.



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09-19-14: Commentary : Walter Mosley's 'Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore' : In the Flattened Light of Life

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Live Interview with Walter Mosley : "... it was him saying what he felt, but for me it was a revelation about what I felt..."

09-18-14:Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 173: Walter Mosley : Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore

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Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 172: Lisa See : China Dolls

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Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Live Interview with Alan Cheuse : "...one of the first books I ever wrote was a Bobbsey Twins novel..."

09-10-14: Commentary : Nick Harkaway Unleashes 'Tigerman' : The Heart of the Hero

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Nick Harkaway : "...we do a lot of policy-based evidence making here..."

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Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 171: Nick Harkaway : Tigerman

08-08-14: Commentary : Alastair Reynolds 'Blue Remembered Earth' : Diffident Utopia

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Alastair Reynolds : "...the first book was going to contain about a hundred years of implicit future history..."

07-11-14: Commentary : Roz Chast Asks 'Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?' : NO

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Roz Chast : "...I had no idea of how it worked because we had never talked about it."

07-08-14:Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 170: Roz Chast : Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

06-30-14: Commentary : Alan Furst Passes 'Midnight in Europe : Wrong Side of War

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Alan Furst : "...certain periods are echoic..."

06-29-14:Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 169: Alan Furst : Midnight in Europe

06-27-14: Commentary : Sarah Lotz Counts 'The Three' : The Uses of Fear

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Sarah Lotz : "...people need answers..."

06-25-14:Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 168: Sarah Lotz : The Three

06-21-14: Commentary : Steven Galloway Conjures 'The Confabulist' : Creating Harry Houdini

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Steven Galloway : "...so much has been written about Harry Houdini..."

06-18-14: Commentary : Raymond B. Russell Heralds 'The Dark Return of Time' : An Atmosphere of Crime

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Thomas Frank on Parlor Tricks : "Off With Their Heads!"

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 167: Steven Galloway : The Confabulist

06-16-14: Commentary : Geoff Dyer Has 'Another Great Day at Sea' : The Steel Beach Party

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Geoff Dyer : "..but it was as nothing compared to the noise of planes landing..."

06-15-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 166: Geoff Dyer : Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush

06-09-14: Commentary : Colson Whitehead Does 'The Noble Hustle' : Incandescent Memories of the Future

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Colson Whitehead : "...I won five dollars, and from then on..."

06-08-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 165: Colson Whitehead : The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Deaths

06-02-14: Commentary : Kaui Hart Hemmings Explores 'The Possibilities' : Framing Life

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kaui Hart Hemmings : "I burned that copy and started fresh."

05-31-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 164: Kaui Hart Hemmings : The Possibilities

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Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kent A. Kiehl : "How do you measure the cost of those sixteen homicides?"

05-21-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 163: Kent A. Kiehl, PhD : The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience

05-19-14: Commentary : Justin Go Clocks 'The Steady Running of the Hour' : Time-Crossed Lovers and Wars

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Justin Go : "... there was always something that had to happen ..."

05-15-14: Commentary : Jeff VanderMeer Grants 'Authority' : The Parallax Views

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer : "...the land people don't talk to the sky people don't talk to the water people..."

05-13-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 162: Justin Go : The Steady Running of the Hour

05-12-14: Commentary : Matt Taibbi Views 'The Divide' : Zero-Sum Economic Morality

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Matt Taibbi : "... the biggest bank robbery in the history of the world ..."

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