Summer Travel Interviews and Readings: Richard Ford

Richard Ford, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Sportswriter, the wonderful novel that first introduced us to Frank Bascombe, is bringing Frank back in a new book, Let Me Be Frank with You, to be released later this year.  In this interview with PBS’s Jeffrey Brown, Ford discusses writing his Bascombe novels, reads from the new book, and tells a wonderful Raymond Carver anecdote.  If you’re traveling and you’d like to add a little depth to your highway-skyway miles, settle into for an interesting discussion of story making.

The Residue of Writing: John Updike’s Garbage

In “The Man Who Made Off With John Updike’s Trash,” Adrienne LaFrance, of The Atlantic, profiles Paul Moran, a man who regularly took John Updike’s trash from the front yard of his Beverly Farms home in Massachusetts.  Moran’s collection includes discarded clothes, photos, letters, royalty checks, an old driver license, broken gadgets, honorary degrees, manuscript pages and more.

“My life is, in a sense, trash,” Updike told the Paris Review.  His words take on new meaning after reading LaFrance’s curiously intriguing article.

 

 

 

 

Summer Travel Interviews and Stories: Kurt Vonnegut Reads from Slaughterhouse-Five

“Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.”  This has to be one of the most famous first sentences in contemporary literature.  It’s the first sentence of Chapter 2 of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-FiveAnd it’s here, as part of my summer travel series, where we begin with Kurt Vonnegut reading from his novel.

 

Realistic Young Adult Fiction Read by Adults

What is young adult fiction?  Is it all fantasy and romance?  How fast is it selling?  Who’s buying it?

CBS news reported last December, “With sales up 24 percent, the fastest-growing market for publishers are young adult books. Long given less attention by big publishers, these books are suddenly bigger than ever, as young adult literature has become more popular among adults.”

You might be thinking of Harry Potter or Twilight, but realistic fiction for young adults has also grown in popularity, and this has caused a rash of articles questioning the merits of adults reading YA (“Against YA,” Slate), the differences in the YA and adult fiction, the best examples of realistic YA writing, and if YA dives as deep as adult fiction (“Of Course YA Books Can Be Complex” and “The Adult Lessons of YA Fiction,” both from The Atlantic).

Summer Travel Interviews and Stories: Cynthia Ozick Reads “The Shawl”

This is the third in a series of travel interviews and stories by American masters I will post this summer.  If you’re traveling, and you’d like to add a little depth to your highway-skyway miles, you might be interested in listening.  This time, Cynthia Ozick reads her classic short story, “The Shawl.”  Poignant and hypnotic, this story–not for the timid–is a masterpiece in the use poetic, metaphorical language.

 

What It Feel’s Like . . . Fascinating True Stories from Esquire

“I liked working night shifts, because whenever they were awake, I wanted to apologize to them. When they were sleeping, I didn’t have to worry about that. I could just walk up and down the blocks all night long.

There was usually one detainee who would lead the call to prayer at five in the morning. That person was in the very last cell. The detainees, they sang beautifully. It was so eerie to hear, because it was such a beautiful song, and to hear forty-eight detainees just get up in the morning and, in unison, sing this gorgeous song that I could never understand . . .”

This is from the article “What It Feels Like…to Be a Prisoner Guard at Guantanamo Bay,” published by Esquire magazine.  The story, told by former guard Christopher Arendt, tells what it was like to actually guard the Guantanamo inmates.

What It Feels Like…” is an article series archived at Esquire.  Each essay gives an inside take on the most unusual experiences: what it feels like to be in a plane crash, to have multiple personalities, to be a drug mule, to live at the South Pole, to row across the Atlantic, to chop a man’s head off, to stay awake for eleven days, to have Jesus enter your heart.

Esquire’s fiction heyday is long gone, but these stories are worth the time.

 

 

 

 

Summer Travel Interviews and Stories: Jennifer Egan

This is the second in a series of travel interviews and stories by American masters I will post this summer.  If you’re traveling, and you’d like to add a little entertainment and insight to your highway-skyway miles, you might be interested in listening.  Up today, Jennifer Egan reads from A Visit from The Good Squad and talks about how she wrote it.