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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.


New to the Agony Column

07-11-15: Commentary : Robert Repino Morphs 'Mort(e)' : Housecat to Harbinger of the Apocalypse

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Robert Repino : "...an even bigger threat. which is us, the humans..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 209: Robert Repino : Mort(e)

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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