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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

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

09-17-14: Commentary : Lisa See Collects 'China Dolls' : Voice Power

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Live Interview with Lisa See : "..it's not my worldview, but it was the worldview at that time..."

09-16-14: Commentary : Lauren Beukes Illuminates 'The Shining Girls' : A Glimpse of Grubby Terror

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

09-15-14: Commentary : Alan Cheuse Reveals 'An Authentic Captain Marvel Ring and Other Stories' : Infinite Worlds Within

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..."

09-08-14: Commentary : Alastair Reynolds 'On the Steel Breeze' : Everything and More

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

05-26-14: Commentary : Kent A. Kiehl Heeds 'The Psychopath Whisperer' : Prison of the Mind

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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