This Just In...News
From The Agony Column
10-03-08: "It's all just a little bit of history repeating"
KUSP 88.9 FM / kusp.org/live 10-05-08
6-7 PM PDT; Agony Column Podcast News Report : The Agony Column Digest
Radio Broadcast: September 21, 2008
James D. Houston,
Karen Joy Fowler and Laurie R. King Discuss Politics and Literature
Live on The Agony Column KUSP Broadcast
I'm a lucky guy when
it comes to local writers, and this week I'm pulling out all the stops.
It started when I had lunch with James D. Houston a couple
of weeks ago, and he told me that he was headed off to Sacramento to address
some of the Political Beings who inhabit this fantasy netherworld. Houston,
as anyone who has read his books or even heard his voice would know, is
a down-to-earth guy. I asked him if he'd be willing to come back and chat
with me live on the air about his personal Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
adventures where literature meets politics, and he agreed. Then as I was
editing some old audio, I noticed that both Karen Joy Fowler
and Laurie R. King have some pretty bold political literature
that manages to pack a punch without seeming cringe-worthy.
Look, I'll be the first to admit that art in general and literature in
specific mixed with politics generally turn me right off. That said, there
are a lot of great writers who can make a point that is of literary value
with a political perspective. I'm talking to three writers who can do
just that on varying level and in varying manners.
King's latest novel
offers us a sympathetic terrorist; I just don't think you can get more
relevant than 'Touchstone' on a number of levels. Fowler's latest, 'Wit's
End' features a delightfully-obsessed author who spends way too much time
on the Internet and not enough time on her writing. And finally, Houston's
latest – beyond his Mr. Smith adventures – is 'Bird
of Another Heaven', and it directly addresses a very successful example
of American expansion and imperialism, our gunpoint-takeover of Hawaii.
Look, but don't ...
I have no idea what will happen when I mix these three ingredients and
stir gently. I hope readers will
feel free to email me questions, either before the show or even during.
But I do think we're going to have quite a bit of fun this Sunday.
The Agony Column Digest Radio Broadcast airs Sundays, from 6:00 PM to
7:00 PM in California on Central Coast Public Radio, KUSP, 88.9 FM and
over the web at http://kusp.org/live.
Listen up and demand your own Agony Column from your own NPR affiliate.
The voice of the collective seems to be strangely audible now. In order
to be heard, one must first speak aloud.
Agony Column Podcast
News Report : The Agony Column Digest Radio Broadcast: September 21,
2008 : Robert Scheer and Julie Rose
And continuing my catch-up
podcasts, I'm closing out the week with The Agony Column Digest Radio
Broadcast: September 14, 2008, featuring (edited) Robert Scheer
and Julie Rose. Just for fun, I've put a teaser for this
Sunday's live show – described above – in front of the podcast.
You can download
the MP3 file from this link.
And here is what you get:
Eno Lanois Eno 1 1:01
Robert Scheer 1 12:05
Eno Lanois Eno 2 0:46
Robert Scheer 2 13:23
Eno Lanois Eno 3 0:47
Eno Lanois Eno 4 1:01
Julie Rose 1 10:24
Eno Lanois Eno 5 0:49
Julie Rose 2 6:16
Eno Lanois Eno 6 1:00
10-02-08: Dustin Kenall Reviews 'Brasyl' by Ian McDonald ; Agony Column
Podcast News Report : The Agony Column Digest Radio Broadcast: September
many sights to see in Brasyl."
is a phenomenal talent, a writer who lives in his worlds with raw, image-driven
power. Once you enter his prose, the visions arise around you, clangorous,
clashing, fully of shiny bits and muddy grit. His books are beyond immersive;
the reading experience is dense, because McDonald doesn't just want to
show you what he sees. He makes you live it, with words. If you ever get
a chance to see him or meet, dont hesitate. You'll find that he's
much like his writing. He achieves his powerful effects, both in prose
and in person, not by brute force, but with a quiet, steady assurance
that is grounded in life lived at a street level, in details, not digressions.
Murky, dark – and dangerous. Hey that caption works here
McDonald's latest novel, from Victor Gollancz in the UK and Pyr in the
US, is 'Brasyl'. I'm
happy to offer readers a finely-written review from Dustin Kenall, who
has written reviews for SF Site and will have more reviews coming up for
The Agony Column. I think readers will find that his selections reflect
the sort of variety that you've found in the past and will continue to
find in the future; unless my evil doppelganger shows up and turns this
site into an commercial-laden, roll-over-flash ad pop-up window nightmare.
Funny how that works, no? Nightmares apparently are quite profitable.
Agony Column Podcast
News Report : The Agony Column Digest Radio Broadcast: September 14,
2008 : Stella Rimington and Ping Pong Release Party
Rimington Left; Ping Pong Banner top right, Ping Pong's Dan Linehan,
managing editor, and Jessica Breheny, fiction editor.
I'm still catching
up with myself as regards The Agony Column Digest Radio Broadcast.
I meant to get this going a couple of weeks ago, but had so much material
in the pipeline, I just couldnt fit it in. Be assured that there
is lots of meaty word stuff to come, as I accumulate a plethora of material
in what proves to be the very literary month of October. Today's episode
of The Agony Column Digest Radio Broadcast Podcast from NPR
affiliate KUSP includes the interview with Stella Rimington, and interviews
with editors of and contributors to 'Ping Pong', the literary journal
from the Henry Miller Library. This is a radio-formatted, one hour show.
Here is the program:
Michael Brook Intro 0:53
Rev Organdrum 1 0:45
Stella Rimington 1 13:47
Rev Organdrum 2 0:30
Stella Rimington 2 12:02
Rev Organdrum 3 0:29
Stella Rimington 3 12:54
Combustible Edison 0:30
Michael Brook 1 0:40
Ping Pong Maugham 3:25
Michael Brook 2 0:48
Ping Pong Brehenny 4:55
Michael Brook 3 0:34
Ping Pong Graham 3:25
Michael Brook 4 1:35
What you've got here is my radio version of The Agony Column Podcast,
boiled down into a digest format, with short musical interludes to quell
the waves of words and give the program host a chance to make grant announcements
and mention who is being interviewed. Readers are encouraged to burn CDs,
take them to their local NPR affiliates and demand the show. Those same
readers and listeners are vouchsafed my undying thanks, and if you drop
me an email, a book or two.
10-01-08: Mario Guslandi Reviews 'Poe's Children' : The Agony Column
Digest Radio Broadcast : September 7, 2008
Avoiding the Obvious
Well, I'll agree with
Mario Guslandi on this; Peter Straub
does a damn good job of avoiding the obvious in his selections for 'Poe's
Children' (Doubleday / Random House ; October 14, 2008 ; $26.95). A quick
glance at the back cover will cause just about any reader to raise an
eyebrow and wonder, "What the hell?" while at the same time
recognizing someone familiar. The horror crowd will undoubtedly cotton
to Stephen King, David J. Schow, Ramsey Campbell, Joe Hill, Peter Straub,
Glen Hirshberg, Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem, Thomas Ligotti and Thomas
Tessier. The literary crowd will surely know Dan Chaon and John Crowley.
The science fiction readers will recognize M. Rickert and Ellen Klages.
The slipstreamers will delight to see Kelly Link and Brian Evenson. New
fantasy readers will know Elizabeth Hand and Jonathan Carroll. Those with
eyes ("If there are eyes, avoid eye contact; if there are no eyes,
avoid all contact!") will know Neil Gaiman. And I can't rightly say
where Id slot Graham Joyce, Rosalind Palmero Stevenson, Bradford
Morrow, Benjamin Percy and Tia V. Travis. That's a deal-sealer for me.
Work by authors I dont know amongst author I know and love both
in and out of genre that, to me is what I want from my horror.
Pretty creepy cover. Wish they'd hired JK Potter, though.
For me, the true strength of the horror genre has always been variety
one can gather under the genre, and there have been a number of great
anthologies to demonstrate this. You
can read Mario Guslandi's review of 'Poe's Children' here. When I
talked to Clive Barker, he mentioned that it was the work in 'Dark Forces',
edited by Kirby McCauley that inspired him to start 'The Books of Blood'.
This brings to mind the question; what young writer is reading this book
right now and thinking; "I can do this? I can do – this!"
Agony Column Podcast
News Report : The Agony Column Digest Radio Broadcast : September 7,
2008 ; Thomas Frank and Dorothy Hearst
Podcast listeners and
readers should probably know that I'm currently doing a broadcast radio
show for NPR affiliate KUSP. I've recently
been give my own slot, a full hour; (well, 59 minutes, but who's counting?),
and I've decided to start podcast these hours for my regular podcast listeners.
My hope is that each of you will burn a CD and traipse with it into your
local NPR affiliate and ask them to carry the show. But also, this gives
those listeners with less time a convenient way to get a digest of the
best of The Agony Column Podcast in an edited-for-time and edited-for-FCC-content
approval format. I'm catching up with my earlier shows this week, so prepare
for more. And note as well, there's a literary events calendar that is
probably non-applicable to most listeners, but short and mentions writers
worth seeing and reading. The first episode of the Radio Digest features
Thomas Frank and Dorothy Hearst. Here's
the link, download and enjoy ... and spread the word!
And here's the breakdown of the program:
Penguin Café Orchestra Perpetuum Mobile 1 0:32
Thomas Frank 1 12:17
Penguin Café Orchestra Perpetuum Mobile 2 0:31
Thomas Frank 2 8:57
Penguin Café Orchestra Perpetuum Mobile 3 0:30
Thomas Frank 3 10:28
Penguin Café Orchestra Perpetuum Mobile 4 0:50
Mysty W. Moonfree 10:28
Penguin Café Orchestra Perpetuum Mobile 5 0:31
Literary Events Calendar 2:35
Penguin Café Orchestra Perpetuum Mobile 6 0:33
Dorothy Hearst 10:25
Penguin Café Orchestra Perpetuum Mobile 7 0:21
09-30-08: Richard Morgan Knows 'The Steel Remains' ; Agony Column Podcast
News Report : Robert Scheer on the Economic Bailout of Wall Street Investment
Oh, and fantasy used
to be so nice. Not really – from Tolkien to Moorcock, fantasy has
always had a pretty hard edge. But you know you can count on Richard
Morgan to roughen up that hard edge so it doesn't just cut –
it tears. And so does 'The Steel Remains' (Victor Gollancz ; August 7,
2008 ; £12.99), Morgan's entrée into the world of fantasy
fiction. He talked about this book when I last spoke to him, and now it's
out in the UK. Alas, US fans will have to wait until January to pick this
one up domestically. That means two things. First, you have to wait; and
that's of course a problem when it comes to Morgan's books, because, who
wants to wait? And second, but perhaps of primary import to my readers,
is that this UK edition you see here is the True First, and therefore
liable to end up worth a bit more than the US follow-up. Sure, we read
for the words and the reading experience, but still. It's hard to avoid
the compulsion to collect the UK versions when you've been getting them
from the get-go. And as well, it seems smart to reward the editor who
took a chance on Morgan's first book not so long ago.
Murky, dark – and dangerous.
Morgan gave us the setup
for this book back in his last interview; you've got three grizzled
veterans of a war against some nasty critters in a fantasy-like setting.
I say "like" because Morgan's not the sort to give us anything
too familiar. Figure that his world is nastier, more brutal and more dangerous
than the average Magic Kingdom. And these three veterans are not the best
folks in the world; as such, those around them are likely to be dispatched
in nasty, brutal and often humorous ways, while Morgan makes some pertinent
points about the brutality of our own world. Note as well that Morgan
is not inclined to grace us with a tome; at 344 pages, 'The Steel Remains'
is admirably compact. First printings are still available. Buy early and
often. Morgan may injure your cozy self-image, but the reading experience
Agony Column Podcast
News Report : Robert Scheer on the Economic Bailout of Wall Street Investment
Banks : Pornography Redux
came to the Capitola Book Café
recently, and I took the opportunity to speak with him to find out his
thoughts on our country's sudden economic crisis. Of course, Scheer had
already written about this – six years ago. You can find his column
Not surprisingly, he gets straight to the heart of the debacle, in terms
of the laws that were passed in order to facilitate the largest wealth
transfer in the history of this nation.
You can find
out what laws were passed, by whom and where to point the finger you're
raising in salute to these yo-yo's by following this link. Sorry,
that whole "Follow the money" deal only works when there's money
to follow. We're dealing with anti-money now; whatever this stucff touches
becomes instantly worthless.
09-29-08: Bill Tancer's 'Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online
and Why It Matters'
Interview With Bill Tancer
The world is changing
at a pace that takes our breath away. But for the first time, we know
more about that world than we ever did before; at least the online world,
thanks to Bill Tancer, who works at Hitwise, and has
written ' Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters'
(Hyperion ; September 2, 2008 ; $25.95). Tancer joined the GeekSpeak
crew – Lyle Troxell, Sean Cleveland, Miles Elam and myself for a
live radio broadcast on September 27, 2008.
What you're doing right now.
What really struck me as how much his work is informed by intuition and
a sense of play. Youd think that one of the world's premiere data
miners would be all and only about the numbers, but there's a lot more
to his work and his conclusions than statistics. But make no mistake,
he commands the world's mightiest database of online behavior and slices
it with an artistic flair born of consummate knowledge. All
you have to find out what he has to say is to: CLICK.