Book Book Book Book
Commentary Commentary RSS Reviews Podcasts_Audio Podcasts RSS Blog Links Archives Indexes

12-01-11: Kim Stanley Robinson Reads at SF in SF on November 12, 2011
Click image for audio link.

Revolution 2312

Forget genre, forget the future. In the very real, very present present, Kim Stanley Robinson is clearly one of the most important writers in America. It does not matter whether he's finding the gentle comedy in global climate change, the future in Galileo's past, or an Islamic world that never was, Robinson manages the unique feat of capturing imagination, technology and stunning literary power in every work he writes.

At SF in SF early last month, he read from his forthcoming novel, 2312. The genesis of the novel is the result of a series of consequences that seems like something from one of his novels; an oddball setup and reaction that he explains with great relish. It's fun to hear how great literature gets going, especially from so skilled a storyteller. He's just as good talking about his own life as he is talking about a new civilization on Mars.

His new novel is really going to be something special; it's a bit of a stretch for him, as he has never before written so far in the future. He read several segments, from lyrical to humorous, and you can hear by the manner in which he reads the work that it is something special.

I've set up two separate podcasts from this reading. The first, which you can find by following this link to the MP3 audio file, is the whole reading. The second is an excerpt from the reading, which he does with the help of Cecilia Holland. It is so eerily and powerfully prescient that it deserves it's own airing, so you can listen to it again and again, as Robinson gives his thoughts on revolution. You can find the Robinson-Holland Revolution by following this link to the second MP3 podcast file for today.



11-30-11: Three Books With Alan Cheuse

Click either image for audio link.

Alan Garner, 'Red Shift' ; Stephen King, '11/22/63' ; Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, 'The Night Eternal'

I always enjoy my conversations with Alan Cheuse, but I have to say, when the choices are this delectable, then it is especially fun. A while back, Alan asked me about a book that neither of us had heard of, but came to us via a source no less esteemed than the New York Review of Books. That's 'Red Shift' by Alan Garner, a book that has literally stood the test of time.

First published in the UK in 1973, it's a series of three linked stories that themselves span time. It's a gorgeously evoked story of land, of landscape and humanity. In today's publishing world, it would probably earn the label of slipstream; so far as I'm concerned it fits in the genre of books that I present on this website, to wit, books worth your valuable reading time.

Next we talked about Stephen King's latest, '11/22/63,' some 800 pages of time-travel-enabled Americana that uses a touch of genre to inform an enjoyable and eventually powerful, poignant emotional arc. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised that the esteemed critic actually agreed with my take on King as an American Dickens.

And finally, we talked about the finale for The Strain trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Their resolution caught us both unaware, and I think that speaks to my mind, to the quality of their work. We talked about the book in relation to others in the vampire genre; I'll leave those titles to your imagination, which you can satisfy by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




11-29-11 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read, Episode 20: Charles Frazier, 'Nightwoods'
Click image for audio link.

Here's the twentieth episode of my new series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. 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 nineteenth episode is a look at Charles Frazier and his new book, 'Nightwoods.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Episode 20: Charles Frazier, 'Nightwoods.'




11-28-11: A 2011 Interview With Scott Wallace

Click image for audio link.

"Within months of first contact, these groups experience a huge die-off."

—Scott Wallace

Most interviews are carefully planned campaigns, with strict reading schedules, email reminders of dates and times, and everything set out in a series of steps to help me prevent embarrassment when I sit down to talk.

But then there are the rare arrivals, or nearly missed opportunities that result in a sort of blitzkrieg approach. Just as Scott Wallace found himself pulled into his journey to the Amazon at the last minute, I found myself setting up an interview with Wallace at the last minute. Fortunately, the book was something of a page-turner, and I was able to read it, enjoy it, and get myself to the interview with enough preparation to conduct a fairly lucid interview.

That said, Wallace himself is an excellent speaker, and he indeed has a grand adventure to talk about. But there's a lot more than adventure in 'TheUnconquered,' and that's what makes the book so good. Wallace skillfully weave in history and back story so that readers have a good idea why he's part of a mission that seems to have a conflict at its heart.

And then there are the bullet ants, and a host of critters that make life very uncomfortable for a group of men who might in other circumstances end up in a barroom brawl. You can hear Wallace's story by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




New to the Agony Column

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 ..."

Commentary & Podcast Archive

Archives Indexes How to use the Agony Column Contact Us About Us