06-13-09: Alan Cheuse and 'Single Scene Short Stories' : One Book, Many Lessons
No, not every book has text, even, probably some textbooks. Still, here's a book where text is king and Alan Cheuse is your guide to intricacies of crafting great fiction. In today's conversation with Cheuse, we talked about the power of these short stories and about the literary elements of craft that give them their intensity. Rather than looking at three books, we look at many stories and venture into literary criticism and theory, stepping right past the lines the hem in book reviewers. We talk about Raymond Carver's one thousand page monument to minimalism and Alan reads an entire story by Amy Hempel. You can hear our conversation by following this link to the mp3 audio file.
06-12-09: Jeremy Lassen And Night Shade Books : Bringing Back Night Shade from the Undead
We know where to find the usual unusual. Just pop in your local independent bookstore and levitate over to the "I read great books with embarrassingly juvenile covers," section. There, in books festooned with busty babes brandishing big weapons and mighty-pect men glowering at the future or the world of fantasy before them, you will find the usual unusual. You'll find a few books too, or at least the percentage allotted by Sturgeon's Law.
Jeremy Lassen is a busy guy — too busy, as he tells it. If you’re interested in genre fiction, the publishing world and how a couple of guys can go out there and take on the entire "independent publishing" and then Random House, just for grins — then pull up a chair (or fasten your seat belt, if you're listening on the way to work) and catch the latest tale of terror from none other than Lassen himself. He[ll not only tell you how thrilling it is have piles of books in your house (that YOU published), he'll tell you about the coming months and Night Shade's quite wonderful catalogue. Let me mention that there's a Lovecraft-sorta deal coming out that sounds to my mind quite wonderful. So sit right back and hear the tale, the tale of a fateful trip ... by following this link aboard this tiny ship.
06-11-09: Anne Ishii Speaks to Her Museyon : Curating the Travel Guide
When last we met Anne Ishii, she was engulfed not in flames, but comic book pages, translating 99,000 cartoon balloons of dialogue. Time flies (unlike cartoon dialogue balloons) and even in the most inhospitable places, plants and publishing thrive. You might think you'd be better off engulfed in flames than starting a new publishing venture, but clearly, Anne Ishii thinks otherwise.
Anne Ishii is clearly not risk-averse. Starting a new line of book in a climate where publishers are cutting costs by cutting staff might seem like a risky proposition, but the deal with book is this:
They make you believe.
You read a book and connect, and that's a connection that just doesn't get dismissed by logical arguments. Anne Ishii, however, finds a lot of logical reasons to like the Museyon Travel Guides, and I suspect that many readers will as well. These are solid books — well-written, crowded in the way travel books are but with a sense of purpose and beauty often lacking in their brethren. You can hear how a publishing company gets founded and why, as well as what's up with the latest spin on travel books by following this link to the mp3 file.
06-10-09: Agony Column Podcast News Report — Agony Column Broadcast Show from February 22, 2009 : Michael Katakis and Xinran"
The world is still much with us, and thusly, so should we still be listening to world traveler and commentator, Michael Katakis as he talks about his book 'Traveller' and Xinran speak about her book 'China Witness: Voices from a Silent Generation'.
We'll keep it short and to the point today, because we have lots of work in the hopper. Today's podcast is a slight edit of my broadcast show from February 22, of 2009; it featured Michael Katakis and Xinran, both worldly writers. I find it interesting how much our perception of the world has changed in four mere months, and thus, hearing these writers in a new setting is really quite interesting. Because you can't cross the same river twice, you can't hear the same interview twice either. The audio's changed and so have you. You can find out how by following this link to podcast of a broadcast.
06-08-09 :A 2009 Interview with Guillermo Del Toro : "They are essentially vermin"
Guillermo Del Toro and Rick Kleffel, Beverly Hills, CA
Of course there's the true terror for an interviewer; the fear that you'll get stood up, especially when you're a web guy or (more terrifying) vaguely associated with NPR. With that sort of double-whammy, I watched the seconds crawl with just about as much terror as I'd experienced reading 'The Strain.'
But after experiencing not-undue strain, I was able to talk with Guillermo Del Toro, and we totally hit it off, since we're both big fans of monsters. Nothing like a shared adolescent joy to fire up a conversation. Del Toro is every bit as smart and funny as you might think, plus, did I mention that he loves his monsters? He also talks extensively about the writing and collaboration process, as well as exploring the differences between writing for film and writing a novel. Once we got going, his minder had to stop us. You can hear the result by following this link to our interview.
New to the Agony Column
03-04-14: Commentary : Michio Kaku Foresees 'The Future of the Mind' : Form Follows Function