Bibliocracy takes a hiatus. Back in spring 2015. Listen for other literary arts programs on KPFK.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wednesday, June 25 - Leibovitz on Leonard!

Tonight on Bibliocracy, 8 PM on KPFK 90.7 FM:  LIEL LEIBOVITZ.  My guest tonight has, like so many, been both a fan and student of the singer-songwriter, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen.  In his new book, Liel Leibovitz writes a fan’s appreciation and a cultural critique of the creative genius whose voice has made such a mark.  In A Broken Hallelujah:  Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen, Liel Leibovitz tells both the life story of the artist and helpfully takes apart the lyrics, lines and stories toward understanding Cohen in the bigger picture, culturally, politically, historically.  There’s consideration of life events, gossip, decisions, the unlikely career and, best of all, an argument about Cohen’s singularity as an artist in the context of philosophy and religion and poetry.  Liel Leibovitz is the author or co-author of several books of nonfiction, including, most recently, The Chosen Peoples: America, Israel, and the Ordeals of Divine Election, co-written with Todd Gitlin, as well as been a contributor to newspapers and magazines such as the Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic Monthly, Dissent, and Tablet. Thanks for listening on the radio or online, or as a free download on the KPFK archives.  With broadcast of tonight’s show, I’m taking a break from Bibliocracy, to pursue a couple of writing projects. Stay tuned for news about my excellent replacement hosts and more literary arts programming. I’ll be back on air in spring of next year.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wednesday, June 18 Natalie Baszile

Wednesday night at 8 PM on Bibliocracy, KPFK 90.7 FM:  NATALIE BASZILE.  It’s a pleasure to not only celebrate the arrival of a first work from a writer whose novel you’ve anticipated, but to welcome it heartily when the book turns out to be a story so very strong, engaging, a pleasure to read, with writing of confidence and authority, especially about place.  It is something special to be taught about someplace in the world unfamiliar  by somebody you don’t know, and as a result of that teaching to develop trust in and affection for their characters and the project itself.  In the tradition of Barbara Kingsolver and Louise Erdrich, films by John Sayles, with blurbs on the back from Karen Joy Fowler, Natalie Baszile’s debut novel Queen Sugar immerses us in the life of a character from Los Angeles who finds an unexpected reason to relocate to New Orleans.  Young, educated, urban widow and mother Charlotte “Charley” Bordelon inherits a sugar cane farm of all things, and with it a family she does not really know, troubled and complicated.  There are of course secrets and a steep learning --- and living --- curve for our heroine, for whom we are rooting all the way. Natalie Baszile has an MA in Afro American Studies from UCLA and an MFA at Warren Wilson.  She studied with Jim Krusoe at Santa Monica College and now lives in San Francisco.  Thanks for listening, on the radio or online, or as a download whenever you like.  Note:  Mr. Bib takes some time off after next week’s broadcast, to write and complete a book project. Stay tuned for excellent substitute programming.  I’ll return in spring 2015, with more Bibliocracy Radio.  Thanks, always, for listening and for supporting anti-corporate non-commercial community-support activist radio in Southern California.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wednesday, June 11 - Scott Martelle

Wednesday at 8 on Bibliocracy, KPFK 90.7 FM:  SCOTT MARTELLE.  The new biography of a human body --- perhaps a genre all its own --- written by one of our smartest, most curious and hardworking nonfiction writers arrives as a popular history book, The Admiral and the Ambassador.  You’ll be familiar with author its author Scott Martelle’s previous books, or should be, and will have seen his reporting and commentary and book reviews all over the place, including at the Los Angeles Times.  The longtime journalist has done previous take-aparts of the city Detroit, the judicial prosecution of American Left radicalism and the infamous Ludlow Massacre.  In his newest, on the American Revolutionary navy hero John Paul Jones, he digs up the story of Jones’ forgotten if still very large life and, yes, the fascinating search for his lost corpus.  Telling the story of Jones, a hero but also a scoundrel, and the Civil War veteran who searched for and found the lost and nearly forgotten body of the founder of the US Navy gives the enthusiastic and engaging Martelle the chance to tell two, three, a dozen or more stories about our Republic by way of resurrecting all kinds of through-lines of our wonderfully complicated and entertaining military and cultural heritage.  This is an elegantly woven story within a story within the big story of the first hundred years of our Republic, with Martelle tying the search (and discovery, and interment) for a body to a search for national identity, national myth and the discovery of a second hero, the man, Horace Porter, who largely created it by way of the buccaneer and naval adventurer.  Thanks for listening live on the radio on online, and as a free download from the station’s archives.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wednesday, June 4 - KEM NUNN

Tonight on Bibliocracy Radio, 8 PM on KPFK 90.7 FM:  KEM NUNN.  My guest tonight is a favorite Southern California son and a favorite author, who 30 years ago wrote a beautiful and enduring book about our region called Tapping the Source, embraced and celebrated as a Raymond Chandleresque surf novel set in the scariest and darkest and, simultaneously most sublime places of coast and desert, including old Huntington Beach.  It became an instant classic.  Then there was Unassigned Territory (1986), Pomona Queen (1992), The Dogs of Winter (1997) and, most recently, Tijuana Straits, that book a kind of eco-thriller, but all of them written with the style of a literary artist who redefines our region and challenges our expectations. In his newest novel, Chance, Kem Nunn mashes up mathematics, brain injury, multiple personalities, parenthood, with a winning protagonist who trespasses by way of ethics and love and his own moral code, a medical man who offers his expertise in forensic neuropsychiatry, of all things.  Chance is also the darkest buddy movie novel premise you can imagine, with a charismatic urban warrior criminal to conspire with or enable the deeply troubled and compromised anti-hero, along with the ultimate femme fatale, all of it offered in a lovingly skeptical take-apart of the Bay Area, a noirish mystery with suggestions of “Vertigo” and plenty of stylish, smart prose.  Thanks for listening, on the radio or online, and as a free download from the station’s audio archives.  And thanks to radio station KUCI, where this show was recorded.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wednesday, May 28 - Ashley Farmer

Tonight on Bibliocracy Radio, KPFK 90.7 FM:  ASHLEY FARMER. My guest this week is a writer who purposefully confuses syntax and word choice, and leaves loudly unsaid what is not absolutely necessary, both moving the narrative along and yet, always, moving toward something slower, bigger, mythic and fable-like.  She simultaneously concentrates her wit and tunes our ears to wonder over the delicacy and opportunity of puns, grammar, parts of speech and the nutty-wonderful possibility of language and dream.  The short-short stories or prose poems of my guest Ashley Farmer are evocative, aphoristic, but bigger, and suggestive of a whimsical confidence, faith in language and idiom, fun and funny and yet heartfelt serious.  In her new collection, Beside Myself, Farmer assumes a kind of unspoken connectedness of association, between words on the page and in the experience of readers and listeners. While built on experiential aesthetics, the plots of these small, fragment fables stand strong on their own:  a father who digs a hole into which his entire family sinks, Ronald Reagan as, yes, a bad precedent --- pun intended --- a church called Perfect Christmas, as if a kitschy Thomas Kincaide portrait or snow globey idealization, and a perfume called "Heavenly."  Farmer is the author of a previous collection titled Farm Town, is an editor at the online journal Juked, and teaches writing in Southern California. Thanks for listening on the radio or online, or as a free download from the KPFK audio archives any time you like.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday, April 30 - Ryan Ridge

Tonight on Bibliocracy Radio, 8 PM on KPFK in Southern California:  RYAN RIDGE
My guest tonight writes in the language of American idiomatic self-awareness, collective self-disregard, wry and hilarious and mean jokery and yet a genuinely innovative reimagining of language as a possibility for showing off  (!) all kinds of intended and unintended moments and scenes of reflection.  His writing is short, and yet deep, fragmented but evoking so much of the merciless critique of our wacky, maudlin republic.  Ryan Ridge reminds this reader of Donald Barthelme in his wit and line, and of Terry Southern in his premise and social critique.  Ridge has been published widely in literary magazines and is the author of a previous chapbook with the perfectly deadpan title, Hey, It’s America and a new collection called 22nd Century Man as well as an earlier book of short stories together with a novella called Hunters and Gamblers.  I reviewed it, or rather celebrated it, over at OC Bookly, if you need more convincing.  Ryan Ridge is a graduate of the UC Irvine MFA in Creative Writing and has a new novel forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press.  See his excellent website for more:
Thanks, always, for listening on the radio or online, or as a free download from the station’s audio archives.  Special thanks to engineer Stan Misraje and UC Irvine History Department manager Marcus Kanda.  And to you, for supporting KPFK during the upcoming fund drive.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wednesday, April 9 - Festival of Books preview

Tonight on Bibliocracy, 8 PM on KPFK:  DAVID ULIN and Los Angeles Times Festival of Books preview.  It’s springtime, and the line-up of literary events is a full one, not the least of them being the annual Festival of Books sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, April 12 & 13 on the campus of the University of Southern California.  KPFK will be there, broadcasting this show live at 10 a.m., and followed by onsite live broadcasts by Ian Masters (“Background Briefing”) and Maria Armoudian (“The Scholars’ Circle”).  The KPFK booth is number 210 so come by to watch live radio, buy books and station-related items or just to say hello to staff, programmers and volunteers in between visiting hundreds of other exhibitors and, best of all, attending panels and talks all weekend long.  Our Bibliocracy guide to all things Festival of Books is a friend of this program and a friend of readers and writers, and a terrific reviewer and writer himself, books editor for  the LA Times David Ulin.  He’ll talk with me tonight about the festival, the annual book prize nominations and his own work, too.  Ulin is the author of The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith, a book knocked off bookstore shelves after our most recent earthquake, and the editor of Another City: Writing from Los Angeles and Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, and also a long meditative book-length essay called The Lost Art of Reading, which begins with the startling confession from a professional bibliofella:  “Sometime late last year --- I don’t remember when, exactly --- I noticed I was having trouble sitting down to read.” Then Ulin takes apart the many challenges to the interior life as against the virtual assault, and comes out swinging for books and reading and civic literacy.  Tonight he does the same, as in his smart reviews for the paper, and we preview this weekend’s books festival.  KPFK is a media sponsor of the festival, about which you can get information at

Thanks for listening, and see you at the Festival of Books.