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05-15-14: A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, 'Authority' Edition

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"...the land people don't talk to the sky people don't talk to the water people..."

Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer wrote and asked me if I could snip off the bits of our interview done earlier this year that referred specifically to what is now his latest book, 'Authority.' I thought it might make a pertinent podcast to accompany my review of the book, which has a release date of last week.

I had an ARC of 'Authority,' a novel I really enjoyed, as it combined many of what I consider to be Jeff's strengths. I love VanderMeer's peculiar sense of humor, on full display here, and we talked about that approach in this novel. VanderMeer and I share a bit of background in that we both spent some time in the Tech world, and both found ourselves in companies where the workplace slowly morphed into something oddly funny. Jeff captures that feeling quite well in this novel.

You'll also hear Jeff talk about an adaptation, and refreshingly, it's the most realistic version I've heard. VanderMeer opines that he'd let the adapters take a stab at doing it their way. A book is after all a very different medium than a movie or, what we all want to see in this post-fantasy-blockbuster-that-needs-no-advertising-here world, a big ol' premium-channel no-adverts mini-series. By the way, if the studios were smart, they'd run those series in movie theaters for limited runs before they show up on the small screen. I bet they'd clean up.

My hope is that this interview can give readers who dropped into 'Annihilation' the instant it came out a few good insights into 'Authority' without really ever treading into what actually transpires in the novel. You can hear this interview by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




05-13-14 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 162: Justin Go, 'The Steady Running of the Hour'

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Here's the one-hundred sixty-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'm way behind, but who knows what the hell might happen. I am hoping to get back up and stumbling. I have lots of great books in the hopper to review and lots of great interviews to podcast.

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 sixty-second episode is a look at Justin Go and 'The Steady Running of the Hour.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 162: Justin Go, 'The Steady Running of the Hour'




05-12-14: A 2014 Interview with Matt Taibbi

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"... the biggest bank robbery in the history of the world ..."

— Matt Taibbi

Alas, I missed Matt Taibbi when he was in town. His schedule was so packed between addressing the Commonwealth Club about his new book, 'The Divide' and working his new venture with Glen Greenwald that my last minute attempts came to naught. But thanks to his fearless publicist and the joys of ISDN connections, we were able to talk, at length, and still have one hell of a good time.

Make no mistake about it. Taibbi is dead serious in his examination of the New American Dystopia, but he and I also managed to laugh, early and often, at his wonderfully tweaked portraits of hell on earth. It's hard not to laugh at some of the mind-bogglingly outlandish exploits that Taibbi documents.

In our previous interview, he and I discussed material similar to this from 'Griftopia.' This time around, we once again were talking about the financial scammers who are real-life Bond villains. It's all in good fun until somebody steals 45 billion, that's BILLION with a B, dollars from millions of small investors and pension funds.

But the other half of what Taibbi talks about isn't as funny, though it is just as absurd. In his visits to the poor and the undocumented, Taibbi found plenty of fresh hells to discuss, and his approach was really interesting. It's not a beat that he's familiar with, and the writing is superb. Taibbi and I discussed this new direction for his explorations of the American economic and legal experience.

Taibbi is very comfortable and quite crisp when he talks about the writing and reporting process itself; and he's very clear that he feels he owes a debt to the legal scholars who write up the complaints. He's also clear about his debt to Molly Crabapple, whose drawings give the book a real Dickensian / Victorian feel. Shockingly, he was a bit nervous about the "lightning round" Time to Read mini-interview. I really don't intend for them to be on-the-spot tests. I do confess that I readily bring out my inner game-show host, then I snip it off the finished product.

You can have all the fun that can be had in our Dickensian dystopia with Matt Taibbi by following this link to the MP3 audio file.



New to the Agony Column

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

01-03-15: Commentary : Rebecca Lloyd 'Mercy and other Stories' : "You humans are practiced executioners." Zanti Leader, The Outer Limits

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Audio Review of Rebecca Lloyd 'Mercy and other Stories' : "Our knives and monsters are ever ready, and as real as we need them to be."

12-30-14: Commentary : Kathy Freston 'Quantum Wellness' : : Tipping Points

12-29-14: Commentary : Kathy Freston Embraces 'The Lean' : Series of Successive Approximations

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kathy Freston : "...visualize how you'd like your life to look..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 188: Kathy Freston : Quantum Wellness, Veganist and The Lean

12-19-14: Commentary : Mark Samuels 'Written in Darkness' : Sinkholes of Despair

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Audio Review of Mark Samuels 'Written in Darkness' : "This is an abyss that is not content to merely gaze back."

12-16-14: Commentary : Christopher Hobbs and Leslie Gardner 'Grow It, Heal It' : Natural and Effective Herbal Remedies from Your Garden or Windowsill

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Christopher Hobbs : "I want to integrate both the traditional uses and the traditional wisdom and knowledge and experience with modern science."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 187: Christopher Hobbs : Grow It, Heal It

12-09-14: Commentary : Tad Williams Is Caught 'Sleeping Late on Judgment Day' : As Below, So Above

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Tad Williams : ...Heaven and Hell couldn't be an open, on-going dramatic conflict; it would be more like the Cold War."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 186: Tad Williams : Sleeping Late on Judgment Day

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