Hey, biblio-gals and biblio-fellas. It's time to welcome back Bibliocracy Radio and your (un)humble host to the airwaves at - where else? - KPFK 90.7 FM. And, although we sure enjoy talking about film and admittedly terrific cable TV dramas and comedies and documentaries, let's adopt a version of the famous Blue Diamond Almond growers slogan, shall we, and challenge everybody to also read at least one book a week, talk about books, esteem reading and, by all means, share this post and recommend, as I will do here unshyly, excellent fiction and nonfiction. And writing about literature and ideas and politics, as do the good folks at the Los Angeles Review of Books. Thanks to Tom Lutz and the crew there for subbing for Bibliocracy while I was on a creative writing hiatus. I'm told "The LARB Radio Hour" will stay on KPFK, great news. Check the schedule, and listen for their new day and time, as Bibliocracy arrives this Wednesday at 8 PM. Oh, and check out this previous unpublished handsome color photo of the great Ross MacDonald, subject of one of the scheduled shows we'll air this late spring and summer.
Yes, Bib is back, post-fund drive or, indeed, between fund drives. Friends, you've got to pay for alternative community non-corporate radio, Please remember that as you listen in coming weeks,to shows featuring the following excellent books by terrific, generous guest writers. More on each by way of our upcoming launch of a new, improved Bibliocracy Radio website, but for now, here's a sneaky peeky preview of upcoming shows.
Diane Lefer, Confessions of a Carnivore
Smart, wicked-funny political satire from one of our favorite So Cal writers, author of award-winning short story collection California Transit. In this one an animal rights theater collective advocates for our primate cousins with a gorilla (sic) theater troupe.
Grant Hier, Untended Garden. See my earlier post on this singular autobiographical, geographical historical mini-epic of a youth spent living in Orange County, of all places. A multi-voiced poetic narrative written from a backyard in Anaheim, but with a view of the cosmos.
John Marsh, In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself. Sure, the title says it all, but this nonfiction road trip through American history and place retracing the life of our esteemed super-poet is one of the best and most fun journeys I have taken lately.
Julie Schumacher, Dear Committee Members. I can't stop recommending this book, possibly the funniest and smartest take on the solipsistic, alienated scholar, this one a poor dope who can't help be ridiculous even as he struggles against an even more ridiculous academic system. See my previous post, I dare you.
Nayomi Munaweera, Island of a Thousand Mirrors. It's been reviewed, celebrated, boostered everywhere, and deservedly so. The story, ostensibly, of the Sri Lankan Civil War, but also of a family and of tradition, both destroyed and, somehow, reconfigured. Gorgeous prose, and a winning protagonist. A writer to watch.
Mary Norris, Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen. Charming, fun, gossipy memoir of the occupation and avocation of the unlikely style mistress at The New Yorker magazine. Warm, generous discussion of and instruction in grammar, usage, language, all with slightly insubordinate and affectionate fun-poking at language, tradition, even while, of course, course celebrating it.
Tara Ison, Reeling Through Life: How I Learned to Live, Love and Die at the Movies. Novelist and short story writer, and sometime screenwriter Ison offers a life-long case study in how watching film, no, living in film, helped to define and construct and engage a young girl living in the Valley. This is fun, and smart, either a cautionary tale or a how-to, or both.
Tom Nolan, editor, The Library of America's Ross MacDonald: Four Novels of the 1950s. Can't even count how many literary types mentioned Ross MacDonald to me by way of the recent Santa Barbara oil spill and his iconic Lew Archer novel Sleeping Beauty. Dark, political, sardonic, smart, funny, all by way of an enduring hurt that is everything both noir and sunny So Cal. A good place to start, if you don't know our best heir to Chandler, and a collector's must-own. Editor Tom Nolan has to be among my favorite recently made new friends, a Renaissance dude who knows literary and pop and music culture, and the go-to expert on MacDonald. I could not help but reread The Galton Case. Rumor has it at the terrific folks at Library of America will release a 1960's companion volume, another handsome book which you will want to own, right next to Whitman, Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor. Check out the excellent Library of America website.
Sandra Beasley, Counting the Waves. I don't really deserve such great guests. Beasley is
one of our best young poets, inventive and fun and a joy to read and talk to. She talked to me from her home base of Washington, D.C. I wish we'd had more than 27 and 1/2 minutes.
Karl Taro Greenfeld, The Subprimes. Reviewed and appreciated in Harper's and New York Times, our favorite local sports and business writer, short story and, lately novel writing provocateur just plain goes for it with this homage to Steinbeck (sort of) and gorgeous, fun, entertaining literary bomb-toss at the financial services collapse and rip-off with a New Dust Bowl America of wandering "subprimes" who live in abandoned, foreclosed homes. Think: Sinclair Lewis, Gore Vidal, like that.
Amy Gerstler, Scattered at Sea. Ditto above re poets. Gerstler is one of our most admired
poets, period, but also a writer whose career so many So Cal friends and fans have watched, and from the front row of Beyond Baroque and other venues where Gerstler has over the years delighted with her wit, humor, fantastical political and dreamy poetical conceits.
Finally, a plug for a book with, as they say, a niche market. My pal David "Big Dave" Womack, local oenologist, mountain biker, writer and, lately, stand-up paddle boarder, has penned a thoughtful and fun guide and how-to on So Cal stand-up paddling, appropriately, even compelling titled The Stand-Up Paddler's Guide to Southern California. Dave's literary and cinematic credentials aside, he is becoming a go-to expert on outdoor recreation, with this "guide" following his essential book on riding the local trails, Mountain Bike! Orange County. Congrats, Dave, and see you in the lline-up.
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Andrew Tonkovich edits the West Coast literary journal Santa Monica Review and hosts the weekly books show Bibliocracy Radio, Wednesday nights at 8 PM on listener-supported non-corporate KPFK 90.7 FM in Southern California.