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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

07-05-15: Commentary : Dr. Michael Gazzaniga Tells Tales from Both Sides of the Brain : A Life in Neuroscience Reveals the Life of Science

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Michael Gazzaniga : "We made the first observation and BAM there was the disconnection effect..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 208: Michael Gazzaniga : Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience

06-26-15: Commentary : Neal Stephenson Crafts an Eden for 'Seveneves' : Blow It Up and Start All Over Again

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Neal Stephenson : "...and know that you're never going to se a tree again..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 207: Neal Stephenson : Seveneves

06-03-15: Commentary : Dan Simmons Opens 'The Fifth Heart' : Having it Every Way

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Dan Simmons : "...yes, they really did bring those bombs..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 206: Dan Simmons : The Fifth Heart

05-23-15: Commentary : John Waters Gets 'Carsick' : Going His Way

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with John Waters : "...you change how you would be in real life...”

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 205: John Waters : Carsick

05-09-15: Commentary : Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD and 'Shrinks' : A Most Fashionable Take on the Human Mind

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD : "..its influence to be as hegemonic as it was..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 204: Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD : Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry

04-29-15: Commentary : Barney Frank is 'Frank' : Interpersonally Ours

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Barney Frank : "...while you're trying to change it, don't ignore it..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 203: Barney Frank : Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage

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

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 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 2015 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

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