Writers On A New England Stage: Diana Gabaldon

Aug 28, 2015
David J. Murray /

On today’s show, it’s Writers on a New England Stage with scientist turned novelist Diana Gabaldon, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Gabaldon is author of the phenomenally popular Outlander series – an addictive blend of historical fiction and fantasy based on the premise of time travel. Outlander plays with the past, overthrows traditional gender roles, and has inspired a cable television series that Buzzfeed called, “The Feminist Answer to ‘Game of Thrones.’ ” Her latest novel is the eighth in the Outlander series, Written in My Own Hearts Blood.

Writers On A New England Stage: Tom Brokaw

Aug 27, 2015
David J. Murray /

Today on Word of Mouth, it’s Writers on a New England Stage with Tom Brokaw, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. As a pillar of network news and the author of “The Greatest Generation” books, Brokaw is beloved as an eye-witness to world-shaping events and much more quiet heroics.  When diagnosed with incurable cancer in 2013, Brokaw did not want the spotlight turned on him.

Writers On A New England Stage: Sue Monk Kidd

Aug 26, 2015
David J. Murray /

On today’s show, it’s Writers on a New England Stage with Sue Monk Kidd, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. The author of The Secret Life of Bees explores the roots of American racism with The Invention of Wings, a novel about the unlikely alliance between a southern woman and a slave.

David J. Murray /

On today’s show, a special presentation of Writers on a New England Stage with David Brooks, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. The New York Times columnist, author, and commentator known as the “liberal’s favorite conservative”, Brooks climbed the ladder of America’s media elite by sparring with civility against left-leaning pundits on TV and NPR.

Writers On A New England Stage: Anne Rice

Aug 24, 2015
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NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with author Anne Rice who reinvented a genre when she published Interview with the Vampire nearly 40 years ago.

American author Erskine Caldwell was born in Georgia in 1903. His most famous novel, 1932’s Tobacco Road, boldly addressed the South’s inequalities during the Great Depression.

“He was writing about racial relations when one did not write about racial relations," said Phillip Cronenwett of Dartmouth College in 1989. "He was writing about the difference between the rural wealthy and the rural poor when one did not talk about that sort of thing.”

This week, we’re taking a fresh look at Caldwell, whose writing depicted what he saw as the realities of society – however unpleasant those realities might be.

Peter Biello / NHPR

The year is 1842, and Christopher Robinson, a poor young man living with his family on an island just north of Scotland, has just been accused of stealing his father’s small savings. The real culprit is his brother, who has just fled their small town. As Christopher chases his brother, we encounter a world in which there is a vast difference between the haves and the have-nots, and a cast of characters seeking opportunities for better lives.

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Disasters in developing nations bring out the better angels of foreign governments and world citizens, but not all aid, or media coverage, is distributed equally. On today’s show we discover why the world’s worst disasters don’t always get the most aid.

Then, if you’ve ever binge-watched a show until you feel sick, you may be suffering from: “shoverdose”.  Check your phone obsessively? Well, you may be “figital”. Later in the show, the joys of made-up words.

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The Oscars are Hollywood’s top award for recognizing achievement in film – and of course, fashion. On today’s show: why some actresses are bucking against the red carpet parade.

Then, for most of us, the prospect of winning a million dollars is a daydream, but for Justin Peters, it was just two right answers away. He’ll explain how losing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire changed his life for the better.

Plus, a conversation with artist, writer and filmmaker Miranda July.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

From Mr. Show To Better Call Saul: Bob Odenkirk

Feb 9, 2015
Sharon Alagna

  Before Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk was a cult favorite on Mr. Show, a show he co-created with comedian David Cross. And before that he wrote for Saturday Night LiveDennis Miller, and Ben Stiller. His comedic style definitely veers towards the absurd which is evident in one of the shows he produced for Comedy Central: Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! 

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The image of the family gathered at the table for the evening meal is a durable American tradition. Only it’s a myth. On today’s show, a food historian describes how most families ate for most of American history.

Plus, researchers at Cornell offer tips on how to navigate the all you can eat buffet without gaining a pound.

Then, we move from food to booze: hard drinking writers, like Ernest Hemingway and John Cheever fortified the myth of the alcohol-soaked genius. An author who explores why writers drink, and dispels any myths about booze as muse.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

11.11.14: Veteran's Day

Nov 11, 2014
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Ron Capps served in five wars in ten years, and was left with severe PTSD. On today’s show, he talks with us about founding the Veterans Writing Project to harness the power of prose for coping with the hidden wounds of war. Plus, we’ll find out how one mother of three dealt with her husband’s prolonged absence during military deployments: by asking guests to fill his empty seat once a week.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Writers On A New England Stage: E.O. Wilson

Nov 6, 2014
David J. Murray,

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with biologist, ecologist and two-time Pulitzer prize-winning author E.O. Wilson. Wilson has spent decades researching some of the biggest scientific riddles of our time - from the origins of human social behavior to saving disappearing species of plants and animals. He’s out with a bold new book that takes on nothing less than The Meaning Of Human Existence. He’ll discuss his ideas on where we came from, what we are and where we’re going.

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Two weeks ago Apple Pay was unveiled with great fanfare and claims that the mobile-payment system will make purchasing easier and more secure. On today’s show, a closer scan of Apple Pay to find out who is set to benefit from it.

Then, if you’re at a loss to describe something in English, why not turn to the language that brought you zeitgeist and schadenfreude?  We’ll explore compound German words uniquely outfitted for life’s everyday pleasures, pains, and unnamed oddities.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

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From dash cams to the EZ Pass lane, big brother is in our passenger seat, whether we realize it or not. But just how much are drivers being monitored? And who is benefiting from the surveillance? On today’s show, the future of car surveillance.

Then, a conversation with actor and comedian, Bob Odenkirk. While many know him as strip mall lawyer Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad, he has achieved near cult status for his contributions to sketch comedy. We’ll discuss his storied career, the legacy of Mr. Show, and his debut collections of essays, A Load of Hooey.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Getting together for dinner on a regular basis can be tough for any family, but it is especially hard for military families during deployments. On today’s show: how one mother of three dealt with her husband’s deployment, by asking guests to fill his empty seat once a week. Then, the artist M.C. Escher may be best known for his repeating patterns and mind-bending optical illusions, but a new exhibit at the Currier Museum of Art, touted as the most comprehensive retrospective of Escher’s work, is highlighting his lesser known illustrations.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

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It’s September, put down that beach novel, it's time to get serious about your to-be-read list. Thankfully, fall is the biggest season in the publishing world, so there's plenty of titles to choose from. Michele Filgate, freelance writer, critic, and independent bookseller at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn brings us her must read list for early fall. Click on the book titles for more information.

A former home of "The Catcher in the Rye" author J.D. Salinger is up for sale in New Hampshire with an asking price of $679,000.

The Valley News reports the author bought the home in Cornish in the 1950s and later left after separating from his first wife. He remained in Cornish, where he died in 2010 at age 91.

The current owner bought the 2,900-square-foot home on 12 acres in the 1980s. The land once belonged to architect Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and a descendant of his built the house in 1939.

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Despite having 94,000 miles of coastline and millions of acres of rivers, America imports 91% of its seafood. Today we explore the case for reviving the nation’s local fisheries. And, we’ll stay local with filmmaker Jay Craven, whose film Northern Borders is now on tour in New Hampshire. He tells us about the economics of regional filmmaking. Plus, word craft for fast times: a writing teacher celebrates the beauty and efficacy of writing short. 

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

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Last week, the Federal Reserve released a startling statistic: one in five people nearing retirement age have no money saved for it. On today’s show we pose the question: have we reached the end of retirement? Also, with almost 8 million Americans over 65 still working – a rising number of older Americans are hitting the road to chase low-wage jobs across the country.  We’ll also talk to a reporter who looked for the retail connection to a holiday that is growing in popularity here in the US: Ramadan.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

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Has the digital age made things like handwritten letters and rotary phones obsolete? Today, we look at our possible transition towards a paperless society. Then, what treasure lays buried at your local transfer station? And how can that change your relationship with your neighbors? Plus, we speak with New Hampshire author Betsy Woodman about her new novel Emeralds Included.  

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

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There is an increasing number of books that share titles, a fact that might not confuse a person in a bookstore but can pose problems for online search algorithms. Word of Mouth intern Molly Donahue spoke with author Emily Schultz about a strange phenomenon she experienced this year. So what happens when two authors release two different books with the same title?

Carl Hiassen's "Bad Monkey"

Jun 26, 2014

Word of Mouth presents a special rebroadcast of Writers on a New England Stage with Carl Hiassen, presented by NHPR and The Music Hall and recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Hiassen joined Virginia on stage last June to talk about “Bad Monkey,” a volume of comic crime fiction. It is now available in paperback

Word of Mouth presents a special rebroadcast of Writers on a New England Stage with Bill Bryson, presented by NHPR and The Music Hall and recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. He joined Virginia Prescott on stage last October to talk about his book “One Summer: 1927.” It is now available in paperback.

Sarah Thomas / NHPR

Today on Word of Mouth, a sweet conversation with a man who knows maple syrup. Emerson writing professor and author, Douglas Whynott joins us to discuss his new book The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup and One Family's Quest for the Sweetest Harvest. Plus, we'll put Whynott to the test when he joins Virginia in a blindfolded taste test of 4 grades of authentic, New Hampshire made maple  syrup and one imposter.

Also on the show, Jamie Page Deaton breaks down her list of the top choices for family cars. 

Listen to the full show and click Read More for individual segments.

N.S.F.W. & N.S.F.NPR With B.J. Novak

Mar 3, 2014
Photo by David J. Murray /

B.J. Novak read several stories from his new book One More Thing, during his performance at The Music Hall, and we included a few in our broadcast. However, there was one story that was particularly funny, and probably not safe for work and definitely not safe for public radio. The following audio is presented without edits and may contain language you are not accustomed to hearing on public radio airwaves.

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The National Book Critic's Circle Awards are upon us and joining us to discuss the nominees are:

Michele Filgate is events coordinator at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY. She’s also a writer and critic.

Eric Banks is a board member and past president of the NBCC. He’s the former editor of Bookforum and Artforum and the director of the NY Institute for the Humanities.

See below for the complete list of nominees that Michele and Eric discussed during the segment.

Photo(s) by David J. Murray /


and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Doris Kearns Goodwin, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. The Pulitzer prize-winning historian and biographer of several American presidents shifts to the progressive era with, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt William Howard Taft & The Golden Age Of Journalism.  The book follows two presidents who became friends and later bitter rivals, as well as a chronicle of the dawn of investigative journalism in America.

This broadcast was made possible with support from TransCanada.

In early September, 1965 a UFO sighting was reported near Exeter, New Hampshire.  Air force investigators were sent to question several eye witnesses who reported a “big orange ball” and a “huge dark object as big as a barn with flashing red lights” in the sky.  They dismissed the sighting as “nothing more than stars and planets twinkling…owing to a temperature inversion.” The incident is one of the best documented accounts of an alleged close encounter with the paranormal.  New Hampshire’s brush with paranormal fame makes it the perfect setting for a new compilation of short stories called Live Free or Sci-Fi. The book features stories that bend science and reality together into hair raising tales of speculative fiction.

Rick Broussard is the editor of Live Free or Sci-Fi and creator of the New Hampshire pulp fiction series. He is also the editor of New Hampshire Magazine.


“The Kid”, “The Splendid Splinter”, “Teddy Ballgame”; Ted Williams went by a few nicknames while playing for the Boston Red Sox.  Maybe none so fitting as: “The Greatest Hitter That Ever Lived.”  Williams was the last player in the major leagues to achieve a batting average over .400--which he did in 1941–in his third season in the majors. Ted Williams was obsessed with hitting, taking meticulous care of his bats, and was often observed swinging or posing for a pitch, whether he had a bat in his hands or not.

Off the field, the measure of Ted Williams is not so easy to follow. A private and mercurial man, he was moody and prone to bouts of rage. He would blow up at the press, his teammates, and his family. Williams married three times and had three children, but struck out as a father or husband. Ben Bradlee Jr., former editor and reporter for the Boston Globe, spent ten years trying to find out exactly why Ted Williams was the way he was. He interviewed more than six hundred people who knew “The Kid” going all the way back to his childhood. Ben Bradlee Jr.’s new book is called “The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams.”