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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wednesday, August 28 Mark Slouka

Wednesday night at 8 on Bibliocracy:  MARK SLOUKA.  Perhaps even the name of the town of Brewster in southeastern New York, on the border with Connecticut, a grim working class village, suggests the themes of my guest’s novel about it.  It sound like bruiser or bruised, and the name is just the start.  In his newest book, essayist, short story writer and novelist Mark Slouka seems to have gone back to his real-life home town of, yes, Brewster, NY to reconcile with the place, painfully if beautifully.  With the intensity of the best coming-of-age novels told from the perspective of a sadder, wiser narrator - A Separate Peace, This Boy’s LifeBrewster the novel relies on its author’s considerable skill at putting his characters, trapping them, in Brewster the town by way of their parents’ and the nation’s histories, and of race, war and class.  The claustrophobic urgency of youth is here provoked by most of Brewster’s adults, exaggerated --- not only the sociological requirement, or biology, of being a teenager --- by duplicity, silence, the exceptions being a couple of teachers and close, close friendship.  And if all of that were not enough, the politically engaged author finds a way to bring more tension, story and characterization to that pivotal year of 1968, with the US wars against Southeast Asia, civil rights struggles, rock music and youth culture as backdrop.  Mark Slouka has written short stories and novels, including the collection Lost Lake and the novel The Visible World.  His debut book was a terrific fictional telling of the story of the world-famous Siamese twins, Chang and Eng.  He is an award-winning essayist with work chosen for the Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays and the PEN/O. Henry Prize stories, and of course a contributing editor at Harper’s and he arrives at KPFK with all things --- trouble, loss, love and the Viet Nam War --- Brewster.  Thanks for listening, on the radio or online, and as a free download from the KPFK audio archives.  Support anti-corporate community media!

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