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Monday, November 25, 2013

November 27 - novelist Victoria Patterson

Tonight at 8 PM on Bibliocracy, KPFK 90.7 FM:  VICTORIA PATTERSON.  In her first two books, a short story collection and a novel, my guest tonight observed, dramatized, sent up the glittering rotten lives of the grown-ups and children of nouveau riche of Orange County, California, wielding an elegant ice pick at duplicity and self-reverence, the too-easy meaningful meaninglessness of the indulged and clueless, yet simultaneously offered empathy and honest description.  Victoria Patterson is the author of the debut short story collection Drift and a novel, This Vacant Paradise, two favorite books about our Southern California place and politics.  Now, in her third book, she offers a fictional version of a lost moment in history, constructs a revisionist tale, and ---best of all --- explores perspective and the authority of storytelling – all around the circumstance of women’s participation in the 1928 Olympics, not to mention the struggle against intransigent misogyny and discrimination against women athletes, period.  The Peerless Four is not only a sports novel, though the excitement, pain, and physical beauty of competition is of course thrillingly told.  The novel is also about who tells the story, and whose story is told, and how and why the teller might indeed be as important as the other characters.  Thanks for listening on the radio, or online.  The show is available as a download, free for 90 days, from the KPFK audio archives.  Thanks always to Stan Misraje, engineer.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wednesday, November 13 - novelist Nicholson Baker

Wednesday night at 8 PM on Bibliocracy Radio, KPFK 90.7 FM in Southern CaliforniaNICHOLSON BAKER.  The fictional poet-anthologist introduced in an earlier and much-acclaimed novel is back in Nicholson Baker’s continuing fictional documentary self-narration of his life titled, self-consciously and hilariously, Traveling Sprinkler.  The also wonderfully named anti-hero Paul Chowder, almost age 55,  hosts his own make-believe public radio show in his car, and behaves, stubbornly yet as easily as your favorite eccentric next-door neighbor as local purveyor of a certain kind of charming.  He integrates big ideals and ambitions into the hapless and tragic-comic.  Selfish but humane, big-hearted yet impulsive, Paul’s response to big problems or issues – the war, US drones, love – is asymmetrical and kind of nutty, but most of all it allows him to become and inhabit and exist with the urgency and futility of, not poetry this time, but song, rhythm, music, beats.  Nicholson Baker is the acclaimed author of nine novels and nonfiction as well, The Anthologist being the earlier, wildly popular first part of the Paul Chowder story.  It probably does not matter which you read first, but for sentence-level hilarity, wit, deadpan existential arias and joy, joy, joy at idiom, detail and the everyday profound power of words, Nicholson Baker is one of our best.  What a great writer.  What a cool radio show.  You can listen to it on the radio live, or online and, yes, as a free download on your computer, shoe phone, or traveling sprinkler anytime you like, as long as it’s in the next 90 days.  Thanks for supporting commercial-free anti-corporate genuine community media. Oh, and if you'd like more of my take on Baker, here's the link to a recent OC Bookly piece:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wednesday, November 6 - Joanna Scutts on Fascist Sympathies

Tonight at 8 PM Bibliocracy Radio, KFPK 90.7 FM:  JOANNA SCUTTS on Fascist Sympathies.  I’m a longtime reader, fan, and supporter of The Nation magazine --- no surprise! --- and am grateful and delighted at the experience of finding an article, review or opinion piece which not only affirms but teaches me something, provokes, insists its argument into my life, whether demanding more reading and research, or correcting my own misperception or --- I’ll be honest --- confirming what I’d understood.  All of that happened for this happy reader after blazing through a long, packed, fun piece by my guest tonight, Joanna Scutts. Her review, not so much of a single book, but of a genre, inspired and delighted me with its careful yet urgent framing of the so-called American self-help movement and its literature, in a historical context and, yes, a political one.  It’s important to be able to critique the enduring attraction of what seems so obviously a flimsy if ideologically grounded --- in the worst way --- part of how many citizens seem to construct a worldview.  The article, which its author will read from, is “Fascist Sympathies: On Dorothea Brande," from the August 13 Nation magazine.  Who was Dorothea Brande, and how is it that so much of the all-American tradition of narcissistic and pro-capitalist, dog-eat-dog self-improvement literature, Dale to Deepak, emanates from her arguably right-wing bestseller of 75 years ago, Wake Up and Live!?  The writer is Joanna Scutts, freelance reviewer of book reviews, writer of author profiles, and cultural criticism for The Washington Post, The NationThe Wall Street JournalLos Angeles Review of Books, and more.  She holds a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and teaches writing at NYU’s Gallatin School. This is one of the most fun conversations I've had lately. Thanks for listening, on the radio or online live, or as a free download from the station's archives whenever you like.