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Interview with Karen Russell author of “Swamplandia!”

Today at 4:00pm on WCHE listen to Sam’s  interview with Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia and the newly released Vampires in the Lemon Grove

The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline—think Buddenbrooks set in the Florida Everglades—and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, is swiftly being encroached upon by a sophisticated competitor known as the World of Darkness. 

Ava, a resourceful but terrified twelve year old, must manage seventy gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief. Her mother, Swamplandia!’s legendary headliner, has just died; her sister is having an affair with a ghost called the Dredgeman; her brother has secretly defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their sinking family afloat; and her father, Chief Bigtree, is AWOL. To save her family, Ava must journey on her own to a perilous part of the swamp called the Underworld, a harrowing odyssey from which she emerges a true heroine.

Karen Russell graduated from Columbia University’s MFA program in 2006. Her stories have been featured in The Best American Short StoriesConjunctionsGrantaThe New YorkerOxford American, and Zoetrope. Her first book of short stories, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, was published in September 2006. In November 2009, she was named a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree. In June 2010, she was named a New Yorker ”20 Under 40” honoree. Her first novel,Swamplandia!, was published in February 2011.

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Hip Hot & Happening in the Bookshop - Personal Interview with J.R. Moehringer

One of our fabulous patrons and book club members, Joan, has won a personal interview with J.R. Moehringer author (Sutton, The Tender Bar and the Andre Agassi collaboration Open) and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.

Joan has offered to share this exciting opportunity with our community so Wellington Square Bookshop will be hosting this phone interview.  The interview will be Monday, April 8 at 7:00pm.  Please arrive a little early so that we can be ready when he calls in.

J.R. will be discussing his latest book, Sutton, the story of the famous bank robber Willie Sutton.

Willie Sutton was born in the squalid Irish slums of Brooklyn, in the first year of the twentieth century, and came of age at a time when banks were out of control. If they weren’t failing outright, causing countless Americans to lose their jobs and homes, they were being propped up with emergency bailouts. Trapped in a cycle of panics, depressions and soaring unemployment, Sutton saw only one way out, only one way to win the girl of his dreams.

So began the career of America’s most successful bank robber. Over three decades Sutton became so good at breaking into banks, and such a master at breaking out of prisons, police called him one of the most dangerous men in New York, and the FBI put him on its first-ever Most Wanted List.

But the public rooted for Sutton. He never fired a shot, after all, and his victims were merely those bloodsucking banks. When he was finally caught for good in 1952, crowds surrounded the jail and chanted his name.

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Interview with George Saunders author of “Tenth of December”

Today at 4:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews George Saunders, author of “Tenth of December”

George Saunders, one of our most important writers, is Tenth of December back with a masterful, deeply felt collection that takes his literary powers to a new level. In a recent interview, when asked how he saw the role of the writer, Saunders said: “To me, the writer’s main job is to make the story unscroll in such a way that the reader is snared-she’s right there, seeing things happen and caring about them. And if you dedicate yourself to this job, the meanings more or less take care of themselves.” In Tenth of December, the reader is always right there, and the meanings are beautiful and profound and abundant. The title story is an exquisite, moving account of the intersection, at a frozen lake in the woods, of a young misfit and a middle-aged cancer patient who goes there to commit suicide, only to end up saving the boy’s life. “Home” is the often funny, often poignant account of a soldier returning from the war. And “Victory Lap” is a taut, inventive story about the attempted abduction of a teenage girl. In all, Tenth of December is George Saunders at his absolute best, a collection of stories and characters that add up to something deep, irreducible, and uniquely American.

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George Saunders is a New York Times bestselling American writer ofshort stories, essays, novellas and children’s books. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, McSweeney’s and GQ, among other publications. He also contributed a weekly column, American Psyche, to the weekend magazine of The Guardian’s Saturday edition until October 2008.

A professor at Syracuse University, Saunders won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2004, and second prize in the O. Henry Awards in 1997. His first story collection, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, was a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Hemingway Award. In 2006 Saunders received a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2006 he won the World Fantasy Award for his short story “CommComm”.[1] His story collection In Persuasion Nation was a finalist for The Story Prize in 2007.

Listen to Sam’s interview with George on Podomatic or you can download the podcast on iTunes.

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Rebroadcast Interview with Alex Gilvarry author of “From The Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews Alex Gilvarry author of From The Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant.

Boyet Hernandez is a small man with a big American dream non-enemy combatant when he arrives in New York in 2002, fresh out of fashion school in the Philippines. But on the brink of fame and fortune, there comes instead a knock on the door in the middle of the night: the flamboyant ex-Catholic is swept to America’s most notorious prison, administered a Qur’an and locked away indefinitely to discover his link to a terrorist plot.

Now, in his six-by-eight-foot cell, Boy prepares for the tribunal of his life with this intimate confession. From borrowed mattress to converted toothpick factory loft, from custom suit commissions to high-end retail, we are immersed in a wonderland of soirees, runways, and hipster romance in twenty-first-century Gotham.  Boy is equally at home (if sometimes comically misinformed) invoking Dostoevsky and Diane von Furstenberg, the Marcos tyranny and Marc Jacobs, the vicissitudes of memory and the indignity of the walking sandwich board. But behind the scrim of his wit and chutzpah is his present nightmare of detainment in the sun-baked place he calls No Man’s Land. The more Boy’s faith in American justice is usurped by the Kafkaesque demands of his interrogator, the more ardently he clings to the chimerical hope and humanity of his adoptive country.

Funny, wise and beguiling, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant gives us a tale so eerily evocative that it, and its hero, are poised to become an indelible part of the reader’s imagination and the literature of our strange times.

“Crackles with satire … You’ll also be twisting a lip upward at the Bellowesque brio of Gilvarry’s language … A left-handed love-letter to America.” — Daniel Asa Rose,The New York Times

Hilarious … The last hundred pages of this book are difficult to stop reading… . [A] barbed debut.” — John Freeman,The Boston Globe

“Quick, witty and hilarious … From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant definitely needs to be one of the next novels in your queue.” — Glamour

Alex Gilvarry is a native of Staten Island, New York.  He has been a Norman Mailer Fellow and has written for NPR’sAll Things Considered,Vogue, The Paris Review, and other publications.  He is the founding editor of the websiteTottenville Review, a book review collaborative.  From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant is his first novel.  He lives in Brooklyn, New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts.  

Listen to Sam’s interview with Alex on Podomatic or you can download the podcast on iTunes.

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Interview with David Finch author of “The Journal of Best Practices”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews David Finch, the author ofThe Journal of Best Practices.

At some point in nearly every marriage, a wife finds herself asking, What the @#!% is wrong with my husband?! In David Finch’s case, this turns out to be an apt question. Five years after he married Kristen, the love of his life, they learn that he has Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis explains David’s ever-growing list of quirks and compulsions, his lifelong propensity to quack and otherwise melt down in social exchanges, and his clinical-strength inflexibility. But it doesn’t make him any easier to live with. Determined to change, David sets out to understand Asperger syndrome and learn to be a better husband- no easy task for a guy whose inability to express himself rivals his two-year-old daughter’s, who thinks his responsibility for laundry extends no further than throwing things in (or at) the hamper, and whose autism-spectrum condition makes seeing his wife’s point of view a near impossibility.

Filled with humor and surprising wisdom, The Journal of Best Practices is a candid story of ruthless self-improvement, a unique window into living with an autism-spectrum condition, and proof that a true heart can conquer all.

"In this hilarious memoir (which also gives some of the finest explications of Asperger’s out there), Finch approaches trying to be a better husband and father with the determination of Sherman marching on Atlanta."—Judith Newman, People

"I loved The Journal of Best Practices by fellow Aspergian David Finch. This new book perfectly captures the essence of succeeding at married life from the perspective of an Aspergian male. If you’re in an AS-NT relationship-or any relationship-you absolutely must read this book! It’s an upbeat and refreshing change.”— John Elder Robison, author of Look Me In the Eye


David Finch is a humorist and author of the acclaimed New York Times best-selling memoir, The Journal of Best Practices. Married in 2003 and diagnosed five years later with Asperger syndrome, David has committed himself to relentless self-improvement, sometimes to a comical extent. A former semiconductor engineer turned full-time writer and speaker, David has written for The New York Times, Huffington Post, and Slate, and he writes a relationship blog for Psychology Today. But his greatest accomplishment by far has been learning how to thrive as a family man.

Listen to Sam’s interview with David on Podomatic or you can download the podcast on iTunes.

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Interview with A.M. Homes author of “May We Be Forgiven”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews A.M. Homes author of May We Be Forgiven.

Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his younger brother, George, a taller, smarter, and more successful high-flying TV executive, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. But Harry, a historian and Nixon scholar, also knows George has a murderous temper, and when George loses control the result is an act of violence so shocking that both brothers are hurled into entirely new lives in which they both must seek absolution.

Harry finds himself suddenly playing parent to his brother’s two adolescent children, tumbling down the rabbit hole of Internet sex, dealing with aging parents who move through time like travelers on a fantastic voyage. As Harry builds a twenty-first-century family created by choice rather than biology, we become all the more aware of the ways in which our history, both personal and political, can become our destiny and either compel us to repeat our errors or be the catalyst for change.

May We Be Forgiven is an unnerving, funny tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.


A.M. Homes is the author of the novels, This Book Will Save Your Life, Music For Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the short-story collections, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects, the travel memoir, Los Angeles: People, Places and The Castle on the Hill, and the artist’s book Appendix A:

Her work has been translated into twenty-two languages and appears frequently in Art Forum, Harpers, Granta, McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Zoetrope. She is a Contributing Editor to Vanity Fair, Bomb and Blind Spot.  Several times a year she collaborates on book projects with artists—among them Eric Fischl, Rachel Whiteread, Cecily Brown, Bill Owens, Julie Speed, Michal Chelbin, Petah Coyne, Carroll Dunham, Catherine Opie and Todd Hido.

She has also created original television pilots for HBO, FX and CBS and was a writer/producer of the Showtime series The L Word. Additionally, Homes wrote the adaptation of her first novel JACK, for Showtime. Director Rose Troche’s 2003 adaptation of The Safety of Objects marks the screen debut of Kristen Stewart. Other Homes novels currently in development include, In A Country of Mothers, Music For Torching and This Book Will Save Your Life.

A.M. Homes has been the recipient of numerous awards including Fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, NYFA, and The Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library, along with the Benjamin Franklin Award, and the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.

In addition she has been active on the Boards of Directors of Yaddo, The Fine Arts Work Center In Provincetown, The Writers Room, and PEN-where she chairs both the membership committee and the Writers Fund. Additionally she serves on the Presidents Council for Poets and Writers.

A.M. Homes was born in Washington D.C., she now lives in New York City and teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton.

Listen to Sam’s interview with A.M. Homes on Podomatic or you can download the podcast on iTunes.

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Interview with Carol Anshaw author of “Carry The One”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews Carol Anshaw author ofCarry The One.

Carry the One begins in the hours following Carmen’s wedding reception, when a car filled with stoned, drunk, and sleepy guests accidentally hits and kills a girl on a dark, country road. For the next twenty-five years, those involved, including Carmen and her brother and sister, connect and disconnect and reconnect with each other and their victim. As one character says, “When you add us up, you always have to carry the one.”

Through friendships and love affairs; marriage and divorce; parenthood, holidays, and the modest tragedies and joys of ordinary days, Carry the One shows how one life affects another and how those who thrive and those who self-destruct are closer to each other than we’d expect. Deceptively short and simple in its premise, this novel derives its power and appeal from the author’s beautifully precise use of language; her sympathy for her very recognizable, flawed characters; and her persuasive belief in the transforming forces of time and love.

A brilliant feat of storytelling … one of the most intensely vibrant novels I’ve ever read… . This book is that kind of pearl. ”—Susan Straight, The Boston Globe

“Beautifully observed…a resonate ‘Big Chill’-like look at how time affects relationships.” --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Carol is the author of the novels Carry the One, Lucky in the Corner, Seven Moves, Aquamarine. She has won the Carl Sandburg, Society of Midland Authors, and Ferro-Grumley awards for fiction.

Her short fiction has been anthologized, and published in various periodicals including VLS, New Ohio Review, and Tin House. Her stories, “Hammam” and “Elvis Has Left the Building” were chosen for inclusion in Best American Short Stories of 1994 and 1998 respectively. Her latest story, “The Last Speaker of the Language,” will be included in the series’ 2012 publication.

Anshaw is a past fellow of the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches in the MFA in Writing program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

She is also a painter.She lives in Chicago and in Amsterdam with her partner, the filmmaker Jessie Ewing, alsotheir dog Tom.

Listen to Sam’s interview with Carol on Podomatic or you can download the podcast on iTunes.

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Interview with David Abrams author of “Fobbit”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews David Abrams author of “Fobbit”.

Fobbit 'fä-bit, noun. Definition: A U.S. soldier stationed at  a Forward Operating Base who avoids combat by remaining at the base, esp. during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011). Pejorative.

In the satirical tradition of Catch-22 and M*A*S*H, Fobbit takes us into the chaotic world of Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Triumph. The Forward Operating base, or FOB, is like the back-office of the battlefield - where people eat and sleep, and where a lot of soldiers have what looks suspiciously like an office job. Male and female soldiers are trying to find an empty Porta Potty in which to get acquainted, grunts are playing Xbox and watching NASCAR between missions, and a lot of the senior staff are more concerned about getting to the chow hall in time for the Friday night all-you-can-eat seafood special than worrying about little things like military strategy.

Darkly humorous and based on the author’s own experiences in Iraq, Fobbit is a fantastic debut that shows us a behind-the-scenes portrait of the real Iraq war.

"I applaud David Abrams for sticking to his vision and writing the satire he wanted to write instead of adding to the crowded shelf of war memoirs. In Fobbit, he has written a very funny book, as funny, disturbing, heartbreaking and ridiculous as war itself.” - The New York Times Book Review

"A clever study in anxiety and an unsettling expose of how the military tells its truths." - The Washington Post

David Abrams’ short stories have appeared in Esquire, Narrative, Salon, Electric Literature, The Literarian, Connecticut Review, The Greensboro Review, Five Chapters, The Missouri Review, and many other places. His novel about the Iraq War, Fobbit, was published by Grove/Atlantic in 2012 and was featured as part of Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers. He regularly blogs about the literary life at The Quivering Pen

Abrams retired in 2008 after a 20-year career in the active-duty Army as a journalist. He was named the Department of Defense’s Military Journalist of the Year in 1994 and received several other military commendations throughout his career. His tours of duty took him to Thailand, Japan, Africa, Alaska, Texas, Georgia and The Pentagon. In 2005, he joined the 3rd Infantry Division and deployed to Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The journal he kept during that year formed the blueprint for the novel which would later become known as Fobbit.

David Abrams was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Jackson, Wyoming. He earned a BA in English from the University of Oregon and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. He now lives in Butte, Montana with his wife.

Listen to Sam’s interview with David on Podomatic or you can download the podcast on iTunes.

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Interview with Craig Brown author of “Hello, Goodbye, Hello”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews Craig Brown author ofHello, Goodbye, Hello.

From “one of the funniest writers in Britain—wise, clever, hilarious, and a national treasure” (Helen Fielding, author of Bridget Jones’s Diary) comes this delightful book of “101 ingeniously linked encounters between the famous and the infamous” [The Observer (London) Best Books of the Year]. Can you imagine more unlikely meetings than these: Marilyn Monroe and Frank Lloyd Wright; Sergei Rachmaninoff and Harpo Marx; T. S. Eliot and Groucho Marx; Madonna and Martha Graham; Michael Jackson and Nancy Reagan; Tsar Nicholas II and Harry Houdini; Nikita Khrushchev and Marilyn Monroe? They all happened. Craig Brown tells the stories of 101 such bizarre encounters in this witty, original exploration into truth-is-stranger-than-fiction.

"Captivating… . A glittering daisy chain that reads like a mathematical proof of the theory of six degrees of separation… . Mr. Brown constructs portraits that have all the immediacy of reportage, all the fanciful detail of fiction. He has whipped up a gratifying summertime confection — funny, diverting, occasionally sad."  —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“The book that made me laugh most was Craig Brown’s quirky game of biographical consequences.” —Julian Barnes, Times Literary Supplement “Books of the Year”

Craig Brown has been writing the Private Eye celebrity diary since 1989 and is a columnist for London’s Daily Mail. He has also written parodies for many publications, including the Daily Telegraph, Vanity Fair, The Times, and The Guardian. The author of several books of fiction and nonfiction, he lives in London.

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Interview with Justin Torres author of “We The Animals”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews Justin Torres,  author of We The Animals.

Three brothers tear their way through childhood – smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn – he’s Puerto Rican, she’s white – and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times.

Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful.

Written in magical language with unforgettable images, this is a stunning exploration of the viscerally charged landscape of growing up, how deeply we are formed by our earliest bonds, and how we are ultimately propelled at escape velocity toward our futures.

We the Animals [is] the kind of sensitive, carefully wrought autobiographical first novel that may soon be extinct from the mainstream publishing world…An affecting story of love, loss and the irreversible trauma that a single event can bring to a family. ~The New York Times

A novel so honest, poetic, and tough that it makes you reexamine what it means to love and to hurt.~O, The Oprah Magazine

Justin Torres grew up in upstate New York. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Glimmer Train, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is a recipient of the Rolón United States Artist Fellowship in Literature, and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He has worked as a farmhand, a dog-walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller.

Listen to Sam’s interview with Justin on Podomatic or you can download the podcast on iTunes.

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