Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I had the most wonderful interview just now with Philip Beard (in-person, which is rare these days), author of a brand new book called Dear Zoe. This book is being touted as "9-11 fiction" which is off the mark if you ask me, because it's really about one family's grief, but as Philip himself said today, there was no way he could write a book about the life of this teenager in that time period and NOT write about that otherwise "huge elephant." He used it to brilliant device to show how a larger over-arching tragedy can overwhelm the individual feelings of a life. He also reminded me of what I love about literature, that it has the power to zoom in close and reveal what can't be seen collectively. Read it. Buy it! His story is fascinating. I'll let you know when it airs.

He was just a sweet, interesting fellow, and we had one of those conversations where I didn't feel like the formal host-behind-the-mike, but just like two people sitting in a room talking about literature; those are the kinds of interviews where I come away saying, "YES, this is for me!" and don't feel like quitting since there's still no major cash showing up (we're still waiting to hear on the CPB grant).

It's really hard to convince people that literature is a worthy subject when you talk about it like that. When you say things like, "people who read are more inclined to be involved in civic life..." people tune out. But when you start talking about the stuff of literature, about a good book, when you start sharing your frustration over a character's behavior or find yourself sobbing at the end of a book of fiction, say something like The Time Traveler's Wife, which isn't even plausible, or Life of Pi, and you feel enriched, bigger, emboldened by it, that's the proof that literature is crucial. And it pisses me off that we have to work so hard to prove this to potential funders. Terry Gross does a great job, and she does include literature on her show, but she only gives it a small percentage of her time, and she generally only talks to the bigger name authors.

Anyway. I'm going to start posting show updates here, because I always forget to do so. Next Show is April 20th and will feature Francine Prose (A Changed Man, Blue Angel) and Bart Schneider (Beautiful Inez). There are links to the side for Word by Word archives, but if you'd like to listen LIVE in streaming visit: and click "listen" on the night of the show 7pm Pacific time. I suggest visiting earlier to be sure your player works.


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