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

10-19-12 UPDATE: Podcast Update:Time to Read Episode 70: Jeffrey Toobin 'The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court

Click image for audio link.

Here's the seventyth 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 seventyth episode is a look at Jeffrey Toobin, athor of 'The Nine,' and his newest book, ''The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court.'

Here's a link to the MP3 audio file of Time to Read, Episode 70: Jeffrey Toobin, 'The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court.'




10-16-12: Cindy Pon Reads at SF in SF on September 15, 2012

Click image for audio link.

"His words were ice against her ear."

—Cindy Pon

Cindy Pon was the last reader at last month's SF in SF; she read from 'Fury of the Phoenix,' the sequel to 'Silver Phoenix.' As ever, when we hear a writer read their own work, it's an inner eye-opening experience.

Cindy's novel is a delicately detailed historical fantasy set in a supernatural vision of historical China, where monsters, ghosts and demons are every bit as dangerous as the backstabbing politics and intrigues in the palaces and in the fields. For her reading, Cindy selected an intense battle set on a ship under siege from creatures that are best described by the author reading herself.

There's a lot to be learned from a reading by any author. In Cindy's reading, we can hear the thought that she puts into the creation her fantastic creatures. They are more than just dangerous; they have characters and needs and wants, even though they are trying to kill the protagonist, Ai Ling.

One thing I really appreciated as a listener was that Cindy did not give us a lot of setup. She just put her audience on a ship on a story sea and let us experience the horrific things that follow. That kind of immersion gives us as listeners a better sense for what to expect from the novel itself. In this case, my expectations are high.

From this reading it won't be apparent that this is a so-called "YA" novel. What will be apparent is the power of the prose and the voice, both written and spoken. You can hear the spoken voice by following this link to the MP3 audio file.




10-15-12: A 2012 Interview with Gene Robinson

Click image for audio link.

"I imagine having a conversation with one of them."

— Gene Robinson

If you listen closely, you'll hear the background sounds of San Francisco during my conversation with Bishop Gene Robinson as we talked about his new book, 'God Believes in Love.' It was the culmination of Fleet Week and the Blue Angels were just about at eye level out over the Bay. It might have been a bit distracting, but Robinson is so engaging that he quietly put five supersonic jets in the background.

I was fortunate — and honored to have his time. He was only here for the weekend, and speaking Sunday at the Grace Cathedral across the street from his hotel. We set the recorder between two chairs and had a very nice discussion about the creation of his book and the issues he tackles inside.

Robinson is a thoroughly modern Bishop; when I arrived he was typing away on his iPad. As we spoke about his book, his incisive understanding of the issues surrounding gay marriage, and the many objections to gay marriage were constantly cutting through. It is clear that Robinson has spent a long time thinking about how to talk and write on the subject of gay marriage.

Robinson was not easily brought on broad the writing of the book. He was asked to write it, but as he told me, he had a full-time job and they expected him to show up. After a few go-rounds, he finally decided to dedicate his 4 AM rising hours to the project, and to my mind, he finished it rather quickly.

Readers will definitely hear the voice in the book speaking in the interview, and vice versa. We managed to neatly step aside from the structure of the book and approach the material via a different set of through-lines that unite the work. One of these is the matter of literary interpretations of canonical political and religious works. We observed that our culture is currently in what amounts to a struggle between two visions of these documents. In one view, a document's meaning is static after it is created; whether it is a book within the Bible of the Constitution of the United States of America; in current politics, what is called "originalism," and in current religion what is called fundamentalism. Countering that is the perception that these are "living documents," that have within them the seeds of re-interpretation and self-change.

We did go outside the book as well, to talk about the controversy he courts by virtue of being willing to speak out for what he believes, and the dangers he incurs as a result. They're not to be underestimated.

Robinson has a voice that matches his material; he's compassionate, understanding and positive, in a manner that is bracingly enjoyable. He comes off as the proverbial "fellow you'd like to have a beer with." You can hear his voice by following this link to the MP3 audio file of our conversation.



New to the Agony Column

01-23-15: Commentary : Jake Halpern Pushes 'Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld' : Non-Fiction 21st Century Noir

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Jake Halpern : "...he goes to Las Vegas to this debt-buyers' convention..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 193: Jake Halpern : Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld

01-19-15: Commentary : David Shields and Caleb Powell Assert 'I Think You're Totally Wrong' : The Power to Bicker

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with David Shields and Caleb Powell : "I read no book reviews any more; the level of discussion is really pedestrian." David Shields "I'm just saying it's a conflict of interest!" Caleb Powell

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 192: David Shields and Caleb Powell : I Think You're Totally Wrong

01-17-15: Commentary : Charles Todd Expects 'A Fine Summer's Day' : We Interrupt This Program...

Commentary : Charles Todd Engages In 'A Test of Wills' : The Politics of Passion and Policing

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Charles and Caroline Todd : "...let them be themselves and sort it out..." Caroline Todd "...it's more on a personal level..." Charles Todd

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 191: Charles Todd : A Fine Summer's Day

01-13-15: Commentary : Rosalie Parker Unearths 'The Old Knowledge' : The New Old World

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Ray Russell and Rosalie Parker : "I thought I'd write something for fun.." Ray Russell "..there was a side of me of that was interested in the strangeness..." Ros Parker

01-12-15: Commentary : Richard Ford 'Let Me Be Frank with You' : The Default Years

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Richard Ford : "...most of our politicians are morons..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 190: Richard Ford : Let Me Be Frank with You

01-06-15: Commentary : Bessel van der Kolk 'The Body Keeps the Score' : Human Trauma

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Bessel van der Kolk : "...being able to see what happens in the brain really helps us to understand certain things..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 189: Bessel van der Kolk : The Body Keeps the Score

01-03-15: Commentary : Rebecca Lloyd 'Mercy and other Stories' : "You humans are practiced executioners." Zanti Leader, The Outer Limits

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Audio Review of Rebecca Lloyd 'Mercy and other Stories' : "Our knives and monsters are ever ready, and as real as we need them to be."

12-30-14: Commentary : Kathy Freston 'Quantum Wellness' : : Tipping Points

12-29-14: Commentary : Kathy Freston Embraces 'The Lean' : Series of Successive Approximations

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Kathy Freston : "...visualize how you'd like your life to look..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 188: Kathy Freston : Quantum Wellness, Veganist and The Lean

12-19-14: Commentary : Mark Samuels 'Written in Darkness' : Sinkholes of Despair

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Audio Review of Mark Samuels 'Written in Darkness' : "This is an abyss that is not content to merely gaze back."

12-16-14: Commentary : Christopher Hobbs and Leslie Gardner 'Grow It, Heal It' : Natural and Effective Herbal Remedies from Your Garden or Windowsill

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Christopher Hobbs : "I want to integrate both the traditional uses and the traditional wisdom and knowledge and experience with modern science."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 187: Christopher Hobbs : Grow It, Heal It

12-09-14: Commentary : Tad Williams Is Caught 'Sleeping Late on Judgment Day' : As Below, So Above

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Tad Williams : ...Heaven and Hell couldn't be an open, on-going dramatic conflict; it would be more like the Cold War."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 186: Tad Williams : Sleeping Late on Judgment Day

Commentary & Podcast Archive

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