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interview Plus reading excerpt.
"...recalibrate my yardstick of weirdness..." —William Gibson
While I was walking with William Gibson through the atrium at KQED to talk about his latest novel, 'The Peripheral,' he was telling me about the reviews the book had garnered and his tweets about those reviews. On one hand, the reviews were good, but the reviewers had decided to give away massive plot points. Gibson's work is to my mind, like revenge — best served cold.
As is my habit, I avoided reading the DJ going in, and I was glad I had done so, as it fearlessly spoils one of the great aspects of the reading experience of 'The Peripheral.' It's dense, at first, in that "the future is a different country" way that marks the best science fiction.
This novel partakes equally of past, present and future, and when you reach the point where you understand the relationships that at first seemed opaque, the satisfying wow factor is astronomically high. And there would be none of that if I had read the DJ. What a disservice to the readers and the writer.
So, going in to the interview, I had already vowed to try to talk about the book in a manner that would enhance readers' experiences of the book, not spoil them. Gibson is in top form these days, both in his writing and in person. He's recalibrated those weird-generating engines to perfection.
Afterwards it occurred to me that the conversation we'd had earlier, about the tweets, would have been unimaginable when I first met him. He was signing a limited edition of 'Neuromancer' at Change of Hobbit on Santa Monica Boulevard in, I think, 1989? That's a to-die for book, really nicely done in the best manner of the 1980's small press. Phantasia did great work on that one, with a wonderful cover illustration.
After our long interview, I pitched Gibson the lightning round, otherwise known as Time to Read, and we had a lot of fun in that little chat. I'm publishing all of them at the time for a change. See below ....
Walking out, I asked him about movies. The only one he mentioned as being seriously in the works was an adaptation of 'Pattern Recognition,' by a well-received director. Alas, the name of said director eludes me, as does his most recent acclaimed movie.
Happy listening, and be thankful for great, generous writers like William Gibson!
11-22-14 UPDATE:Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 184: William Gibson, 'The Peripheral'
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Here's the one-hundred eighty-fourth episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read.
I've been worjking for more of a live format lately, and to this end in this Time to Read "lightning round," I've included some of the banter beforehand, to give a feel for the atmosphere when we run these little mini-interviews. The boom line: THey're a fun way to finish off the gig.
"It was very easy to literally just tell their stories..."
David Greene is as genial over the ISDN line as he sounds on NPR. He was on an assembly line schedule to discuss his book 'Midnight in Siberia.' I imagine a book tour condensed into a series of ten-minute conversations and my admiration for the man who sat through the permutations of questions with such a generous tone knows no bounds.
My sensibilities are a bit odd, so perhaps he hadn't heard my questions quite so many times, but the sheer quality of the writing in 'Midnight in Siberia' makes it clear why he can sound so great day after day on NPR.
"I wanted to show how close reality and fiction are..."
You won't be able to tell from this interview, but Azar Nafisi was losing her voice when she arrived to speak with me about her new book, 'The Republic of Imagination.' I met her at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz, where she was going to be speaking later in the evening for Bookshop Santa Cruz. Her wonderfully protective driver brought her some hot tea, and we sat down in a tiny room behind the pulpit and spoke as the sun set behind us.
Effusive is hardly the right term to describe our conversation, and as we spoke (or mostly her), the term rabble-rousing kept coming back to me. That was how I felt when I first read her book, and she brought that sort of spirit to our conversation. She was intense and passionate, but also precise.
That precision went a long way to helping her elucidate her takes on education, democracy and freedom to read as iut relates to freedom of thought. We discussed 'Babbitt' as a rather science-fictional novel, in that Lewis apprehends well the Things to Come that are not for the benefits of most of us. She also spoke to the power of reading to create memories not unlike those created by actual experience.
08-21-15: Agony Column Podcast News Report : Senator Claire McCaskill is 'Plenty Ladylike' : Internalizing Determination to Overcome Sexism [Incudes Time to Read EP 211: Claire McCaskill, Plenty Ladylike, plus A 2015 Interview with Senator Claire McCaskill]
Agony Column Podcast News Report : Emily Schultz Unleashes 'The Blondes' : A Cure by Color [Incudes Time to Read EP 210: Emily Schultz, The Blondes, plus A 2015 Interview with Emily Schultz]