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12-22-11 UPDATE: Ian Shoales: Current Events
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In my wanderings through the audio landscape, I've spent a fair amount of time at KQED in San Francisco, where I revently had the privilege of meeting the one and only Ian Shoales.

With help of the fine folks at KQED, I am now able to present Ian Shoales' brilliant work as a part of this podcast. First up, a commentary on current events.




12-21-11: Three Books with Alan Cheuse

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John Weisman, 'Kill Bin Laden' ; Ryu Mitsuse, '10 Billion Days and 100 Billion Nights' ; Michael Crichton and Richard Preston, 'Micro'

If you're looking for something for everyone, you're likely to find it in one of these three books that I had the pleasure of discussing with Alan Cheuse in our latest look at books worth your valuable reading time. This time around, we looked at books that I might not have given a second glance, but on Cheuse's recommendation, I found entertainment that might otherwise have passed me by.

John Weisman's 'Kill Bin Laden' is exactly the sort of book I would not look twice at, but it was engrossing and offered a well-written fictionalization of actual events. It avoids the sort of jingoism that can taint these kinds of efforts but the fictional format lets the author do more than non-fiction. If you think you might like a tight novel about counter-terrorism at its highest level, here's the place to go.

Ryu Mitsuse's '10 Billion Days and 100 Billion Nights' is the polar opposite, a novel so fantastic and far-flung that it is almost beyond science fiction. Originally written in the 1960s, then updated in the 1970's Mistuse tackles the biggest issues with gods and human demi-gods. The dust jacket for the hardcover glows in the dark. Fortunately, Mitsuse has the literary and philosophical chops to handle wide-screen science fiction.

As Michael Crichton still seems to sell, even when his work is fully and pretty much seamless completed by Richard Preston, as in 'Micro,' it's quite likely we'll see more. Crichton is his own brand and his own genre; at least we can be thankful for the monsters in this one.

But what you will hear in this discussion is two readers who enjoy reading talking about the joys of reading books that are anything but literary, and that's an important point. Reading can and should be fun. Just how fun? Follow this link to the MP3 audio file to find out!



12-20-11 UPDATE: Podcast Update: Time to Read, Episode 23: David Vann, 'Last Day on Earth: A Portrait of the NIU School Shooter'
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Here's the twenty-third 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 twenty-third episode is a look at David Vann and his new book, 'Last Day on Earth: A Portrait of the NIU School Shooter'.

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Episode 23: David Vann, 'Last Day on Earth: A Portrait of the NIU School Shooter'




12-19-11: A 2011 Interview With Robert K. Massie

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"...she abolished capital punishment..."

—Robert K. Massie

Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert K. Massie is talking about Catherine the Great of course, the Empress of Russia in the 18th century, when the ideal of government was seen to be what we would today call a benign dictatorship. That she actually managed to live up to that description is astonishing here in the 21st, where we have yet to catch up with some of the advances she brought to her world.

Robert K. Massie has made his own advances with regards to writing biographies, having covered much of Russian history over the course of four huge books, including this one. For one thing, in spire of the page count and the scholarship involved, his books are page-turners of the first degree. You might think that he'd be taking advantage of some of our technological advances, plotting out his timelines and setting up a database of characters and events. Instead, he keeps it all in his own mind. That's astonishing.

Masssie also has a rather golden voice that is reminiscent of a famous actor whom I cannot quite name. Give the man a great character, with a great story, and you have a fantastic work to read and a great listening experience as he talks about her life and how we wrote the book. Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of our conversation at KQED.


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04-16-14: Commentary : Michael Katakis Lets Fall 'A Thousand Shards of Glass' : Missives from a Parallel World

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Michael Katakis : "..we haven't lived up to what people's illusions and dreams are..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 156: Michael Katakis : A Thousand Shards of Glass

04-02-14: Commentary : David Rich Steps in as 'Middle Man' : Spy Novels for the 21st Century

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with David Rich : "...so much is known so quickly..."

04-01-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 155: David Rich : Middle Man

03-29-14: Commentary : Carol Cassella Mirrors 'Gemini' : Two Places at Once

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Carol Cassella : "... we could provide good care for everyone..."

03-26-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2005 Interview with Lucius Shepard : "It's an urban war in Iraq."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 154: Carol Cassella : Gemini

03-20-14: Commentary : Dave Barry Warns 'You Can Date Boys When You're Forty' : Five Star General Humor

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Dave Barry : "...you have the right to demand that they grope your genitals manually..."

03-19-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 153: Dave Barry : You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About

03-17-14: Commentary : Michael Marshall (Smith) Sees 'Bad Things' : Dark of the Heart

Agony Column Podcast News Report : Three Books With Alan Cheuse : Elizabeth Spencer, 'Starting Over: Stories'; James Magnuson, 'Famous Writers I Have Known'; Dasa Drndic 'Trieste'

03-11-14: Commentary : Ian Rankin Ordains 'Saints of the Shadow Bible' : Standing in the Shadow of the Past

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Ian Rankin : "...I knew that he would not want to leave the police force..."

03-10-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 152: Ian Rankin : Saints of the Shadow Bible

03-04-14: Commentary : Michio Kaku Foresees 'The Future of the Mind' : Form Follows Function

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Michio Kaku : "But I'm a physicist..."

03-02-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 151: Michio Kaku : The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind

02-25-14: Commentary : Annie Jacobsen Files 'Operation Paperclip' : History as Thrilling Literature

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Annie Jacobsen : "Hitler's top scientists became America's own."

02-23-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, Part 2 : "...still clear distribution lines for books...."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 150: Annie Jacobsen : Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America

02-20-14: Commentary : Jeff VanderMeer Seeks 'Annihilation' : Creative Destruction

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff VanderMeer, Part 1 : "...obviously, something is subverting the landscape..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 149: Jeff VanderMeer : Annihilation

02-14-14: Commentary : Jenny Offill Engages 'Dept. of Speculation' :The Domestic Descent

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jenny Offill : "..where did the rest of me go?"

02-13-14: Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 148: Jenny Offill : Dept. of Speculation

02-10-14: Commentary : Kelly Corrigan's 'Glitter and Glue' : Remembering Forward

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kelly Corrigan : "You just hope you get to have that whole second act with your children."

02-08-14: Commentary : My Life in the Bush of Books : Life as an Internet Failure Edition

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE : Time to Read Episode 147: : Glitter and Glue: A Memoir

02-06-14: Commentary : Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois Bake 'The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day' : Cheese, Beer and a Crock Pot

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois : "I knew it wouldn't work."

02-03-14: Commentary : Jane Pauley Hears 'Your Life Calling' : Crossing an Economic Singularity

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Jane Pauley : "..it suddenly hit me; I almost cried..."

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