Authors

via indiebound.org

Richard Pryor changed stand-up. He created comedy with no jokes. Instead, he unleashed a parade of street characters rarely glimpsed by white people and mortifying to middle class African Americans. Pryor wrote that the neighbors, whores and winos he saw growing up around his family’s bars and brothels inspired a lifetime of comedic material.

Pryor’s stand-up was outrageously blunt, fearlessly black and openly angry. His talent ran in tandem with episodes of self-destructive, violent, behavior -- often triggered by drug use – which jeopardized his career and endangered his life. Yet, in movies, Grammy-winning albums, and even a short-lived TV special, Richard Pryor’s unapologetically irreverent comedy crossed over to capture a huge American audience; Brothers Dave and Joe Henry among them. Dave is a screenwriter, Joe is a singer and songwriter and together they’ve written Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him.

For more than four hundred years, the works of William Shakespeare have given us language to describe the human condition. The Bard’s works have been interpreted on countless stages, film and television adaptations, and pulled apart in classrooms and campuses all over the world. As the theses count and analyses dedicated to Shakespeare continue to grow, a few academics question if there’s anything new to say about Shakespeare. That’s also the title of an article by Matthew Reisz, reporter and features writer for the Times of London’s Higher Education blog, covering intellectual affairs in the arts and social sciences.

via hop.Dartmouth.edu

Edgar Oliver has a voice you’ll never forget: part Bela Lugosi, part Count Chocula. You may have heard him tell stories of growing up in Savannah in the 1960s, with a smothering, compulsive mother who shared her paranoid, terrified state with her children, Helen and Edgar. His tales of growing up are pulled together in  “Helen and Edgar”, a kind of a spoken memoir being performed at Dartmouth’s Warner Bentley Theater at 7:00pm tonight and Wednesday.

Forty-eight years ago writer George Plimpton infiltrated pro-football when he joined the Detroit Lions as a backup quarterback. Plimpton chronicled the experience in his 1965 book Paper Lion. Writer Stefan Fatsis followed in Plimpton’s cleated footsteps when he wrangled his way into the Denver Bronco’s training camp as place kicker in 2008. I spoke with Stefan in 2010 about his short but entertaining tenure in the NFL and his book about the experience called A Few Seconds of Panic.

Stefan Fatsis is a sports writer, a frequent contributor on NPR’s all things considered and a panelist on Slate’s sports podcast, “Hang Up and Listen.”

Photo by David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

A conversation with author Bill Bryson about his new book, One Summer: America 1927 recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Writers on a New England Stage is a co-production of NHPR and The Music Hall. 

iphonebookstore via Flickr Creative Commons

We turn now to that exemplary literary magazine, Playboy.  Hugh Hefner’s magazine has always been about the centerfold and male fantasy and an air-brushed version of female sexuality…but it's also a great read. Really.

In 2005, writer Amy Grace Loyd was hired to revive Playboy’s traditions of stories from the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and short fiction from Margaret Atwood, or that scandalous interview with Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter.  Amy was Playboy’s Fiction and Literary Editor for seven years, and she recently wrote in Salon about some of the ribbing she took for a job she loved. She also recently published her first novel, called “The Affairs of Others."

In his book, My Heart is an Idiot, Davy Rothbart chronicles his shocking and sometimes disturbing real life stories about traveling around America, looking for love, and meeting strangers who take strange to a whole new level. He’s also the creator of Found Magazine and a regular contributor to This American Life.

Leo Reynolds via flickr Creative Commons

The Saturday show bring you a spectacular mix of the best of Word of Mouth. On this week's show:

  • Joyce Maynard stops by the studio to talk about her new novel After Her, and why the last thing she feels is shame when it comes to her decision to discuss her relationship with J.D. Salinger.
  • Eating Trader Joe's Trash. New Hampshire native and documentary filmmaker Alex Mannis' film Spoils gives a fly on the dumpster account of Brooklynites who forage in the urban jungle of grocery store cast offs.

Courtesy JoyceMaynard.com

Say the name "Joyce Maynard" and you’re likely to get some pretty visceral reactions…from those who’ve admired her career since her time as a reporter for the New York Times and her later syndicated column “Domestic Affairs,” and from her detractors…those who are critical of her relentless self-examination and her revelations about her relationship with J.D. Salinger. Salinger was living as a recluse in Cornish, New Hampshire when he began exchanging letters with Maynard after reading an article she wrote as a freshman at Yale. She dropped out of college and moved in with Salinger. She was eighteen…Salinger was 53.

John Irving

Aug 20, 2013
Kevin Flynn for NHPR

From the youth spent at Philips Exeter Academy that pervades his body of work, through his studies with Kurt Vonnegut at the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop – known for producing authors the like of Pulitzer winners John Cheever and Philip Roth - John Winslow Irving has emerged as a true literary heavyweight, distinctly American of voice, and one of the most influential cultural exports to come out of New Hampshire.

Leo Reynolds via flickr Creative Commons

Looking for the best hour in public radio? Look no further than the Word of Mouth Saturday show. 100% nutritional content with no fillers or by products. On this week's show...

  • Ever wondered what it takes to be the Dungeon Master of a Dungeons & Dragons game? David Ewalt tells Virginia the secrets of the popular dice game from his book, Of Dice and Men...
via ofdiceandmen.com

Recounting his relationship with Dungeons and Dragons, David Ewalt writes, “I don’t know if I played D&D because other kids my age thought I was a nerd, or if they thought I was a nerd because I played D&D.”  The progenitor of many of today’s role-playing games has gained a reputation for attracting social outcasts and misfits and as a gateway for teenage boys to consider Satan and suicide. Like millions of kids who played twenty-side die in basements and game rooms across the country, Ewalt grew up…and had less time for a game that could suck up the idle hours of youth. He’s among those picking up the old dice bag for a D&D revival. David Ewalt is now an editor for Forbes, and author of the new book Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons and Dragons and the People Who Play It. It hits stores August 20th.

Harper Collins

Nearly three years have passed since Long Island police uncovered the bodies of four dead girls along their local ocean parkway. Following the discovery, authorities uncovered commonalities among the deceased that included internet prostitution and a poor, working class socio-economic background. These revelations, coupled with a fifth girl who disappeared nearby under similar circumstances, resulted in the pursuit of a faceless serial killer who left behind very few leads.

Harper Collins Publishers

We spoke with author Robert Kolker about the unsolved case, dubbed the Long Island Serial Killer by the press and public. Here's an abbreviated version of the timeline in Lost Girls of the events surrounding the ongoing investigation. The full story and timeline is discussed in Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery.

April 20, 1996: Two female legs, wrapped in a plastic bag, are discovered on Fire Island west of Davis Park Beach.

Comitted Few/GCPanthergirl via Flickr Creative Commons

After speaking with Chuck Klosterman about his new book, I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains, and the nature of villainy, we gave him a quick quiz about some of the subjects he writes about in the book. He tells us who is more villainous with frequently hilarious, and thought-provoking, answers.

via indiebound.org

It’s easy to tell who's the villain in an old western: The good guy wears a white hat, the bad guy wears black. Real life villains don’t follow that code. Nor are they likely to conspicuously twirl their moustaches like Snidely Whiplash awaiting the oncoming train. Sure Hitler was evil…but what is the nature of villainy? Bill Clinton? Joe Frazier? And the Sharon Stone character in Basic Instinct attract haters…but does that make them wicked? What is the nature of villainy? Why does Taylor Swift inspire cultish adoration, while Wilt Chamberlin is loathed? And why is our culture so absorbed with anti-heroes, anyway.

Chuck Klosterman writes about sports and popular culture and is The New York Times ethicist. He explores the nature of badness --- in the bad way -- in a new collection of essays called I Wear The Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined).

ericsimons.net

If you’re a New England sports fan of a certain age, chances are you can describe exactly what happened during game 6 of the 1986 World Series when Bill Buckner missed a roller at first.

That error allowed the Mets a winning run and further cemented the “Curse of the Bambino” in the minds of Red Sox fans…many of those same fans still get weepy when thinking of 2004 – when the Sox finally reversed the curse and won the World Series.

Along with the thrill comes the agony …just ask any Bruins fan who watched Boston’s 2 - 1 lead in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals squandered  by two Blackhawk goals in the last 76 seconds of the game.

We spoke to science writer and Radiolab contributor Eric Simons before the Bruins crushing defeat. Eric’s latest book “The Secret Lives of Sports Fans,” is his attempt to figure out the science and psychology of sports fans…and it begins with a play-by-play of heartbreak.

boingboing.net

Glam rock paraded its outrageous self across the stage between the early and late 1970s… David Bowie, Lou Reed, and bands like T-Rex, and Roxy Music traded in mad men and hippy era masculinity for flamboyant hairstyles, blue eyeshadow and platforms shoes. Glam came from Britain, but conspired with America’s Me Generation…dropping a glitter bomb of theatrics, androgyny and gay camp on a country lurching between deprivation and hedonism. Without glam, there would be no punk, no Flock of Seagulls hair bands, goth rock or KISS…  cultural critic Mark Dery argues that glam was surprisingly radical…planting the seeds of genderplay in the minds of middle class kids, one guitar riff at a time. Mark is author of “All the Young Dudes: Why Glam Rock Matters,” the inaugural e-reader release from the new Boing Boing imprint.

© Michelle Gienow

For many of us, rekindling a connection to our food means lingering a little longer in the organic produce section while trying to pick the perfect pepper. But the “hyper-local” and “slow food” movements have created a new demand for the old ways of connecting to food…food you can grow, catch, gather and even kill…D.I.Y. style. A wide range of workshops have cropped up all over the country that offer hands-on experience with identifying edibles in your own backyard. Our next guest took a decidedly more aggressive approach to connecting with his food.

Bill Heavey, editor at large for Field and Stream, is the author of a new book which chronicles his own “mis-adventures” in hunting and gathering: It’s Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It.

Back in March, we spoke with Vermont novelist David Blistein, about his latest book, David’s Inferno. The book is part memoir, part brain research, part rough guide to Dante’s Divine Comedy…and it’s also, surprisingly funny. David will read from the book and talk with the audience this evening, June 6, at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord. He spoke with us about the razor thin-line between creativity and mania, and how ricocheting between those extremes was how he thrived for many years career as an ad agency executive. Here is the earlier conversation with David Blistein, the novelist, essayist, and blogger.

via W.W. Norton Company Inc.

At the time of his capture in 2011, James “Whitey” Bulger  was wanted for 19 murders, extortion and loan sharking committed during his reign over Boston’s Irish mob between the 1970s and 1995. During 16 years on the lam, Whitey became the subject of myth; characterized alternately as a “good bad guy”, and, in Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film, The Departed, a venal sociopath.

Shelley Murphy and Kevin Cullen, a pair of Boston Globe journalists have drawn on 25 years of reporting to create a more complete and nuanced portrait of the restless boy from the Boston projects who became the most wanted fugitive of his generation. Tonight, Murphy and Cullen will be at the Red River Theatre for a screening of The Departed and at a pre-screening reception and talk.

via masoncurrey.com

Hemingway, Darwin, Joyce, Tesla and Picasso were all remarkably different in their temperament and creative output, but they had one thing in common: a successful routine. From Franklin’s solitary nude reading hour to Picasso’s silent lunch gatherings, the outstanding rituals and habits that created genius are as fascinating as they are unexpected. Combing through over 160 accounts of creative minds, Mason Currey’s new book “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” uncovers the daily almanac of history’s most eccentric, troubled and genius figures. Mason’s writing has appeared in Slate, Print, and Metropolis, where he was an editor for six years.

Leo Reynolds via flickr Creative Commons

In this special edition of Word of Mouth: Girl Power Interrupted.

Photo Courtesy Augusten Burroughs

It's been ten years since Augusten Burroughs' memoir Dry was published. In that decade, the author of Running With Scissors has gotten married, stayed sober, and written a self-help book, This is How: Surviving What You Think You Can't, now out in paperback.

via indiebound.org

Throughout her career the poet Sharon Olds has been asked if her poems were true or autobiographical. There are poems about mothering and domesticity and eroticism filled with personal details and described with remarkable directness and insight. Sharon Olds has rejected the auto-biographical characterization and resisted talking about her life while her children were young, and her parents were alive. She even kept the disillusion of her 32 year marriage from the public; waiting more than a decade to publish Stag's Leap, a collection of poems that is being praised as the best book of her career, and earlier this month won the Pullitzer Prize for poetry.

Illustration by Sonny Liew

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s most celebrated novel, in which Ms. Bennet discovers her true love in a man she first sees as an adversary. Pride and Prejudice has spurred countless adaptations, films, and even a zombie parody…but now Austen is getting new attention not for her romantic prose, but for her strategic thinking. Joining us is Jennifer Schuessler with the New York Times, who recently covered the publication of the book, Jane Austen, Game Theorist, written by UCLA political scientist Michael Chwe.

Images courtesy of Drawn & Quarterly. Copyright Tom Gauld.

Tom Gauld's cartoon panels have been described as bleak, minimalist, sweet and funny. The London-based cartoonist and illustrator draws a weekly cartoon for The Guardian newspaper’s book review section, and has cracked the US market with comic strips in The New York Times Magazine.  A new collection of those strips called, You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, will be released in the US on April 30th.

David Masters via flickr Creative Commons

Kevin Smokler is setting out to resurrect America’s long-ago encounters. Works such as The Great Gatsby, Fahrenheit 451 and Bartleby: The Scrivener, skimmed and discarded by 15 year-old high school hands in days of yore, are being taken off the shelf, dusted off, and re-explored by the same pair of older, more experienced eyes. By compiling a list of fifty high school “classics”, Kevin spent ten months re-reading the stories that have become distant, unquestionable deities in the eyes of many middle-aged Americans. What he found was profound; and in some ways, unexpected. Kevin, now 39, amassed his thoughts and findings in his new book Practical Classics: Fifty Reasons to Reread Fifty Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School.

Zero-Waste Home

Apr 11, 2013
via zerowastehome.blogspot.com

Many of us have good intentions when it comes to reducing household waste – but too often those canvas totes get left in the closet, food scraps avoid the compost pile, and product packaging fills the trash-bag.  One head of household has found the motivation and creativity needed to take home-waste reduction to a whole other level.  Bea  Johnson is the blogger behind Zero-Waste Home, and now author of a book by the same name. She and her family produce only one quart of garbage per year.

The Burgess Boys

Apr 8, 2013
via indiebound.com

Shirley Falls, Maine is one of those New England towns with a strong memory of the way things used to be…before the mills closed, before the mall went up across the river…before so many residents moved away. It’s the fictional town left behind by a pair of brothers in The Burgess Boys, a new novel by Elizabeth Strout, who won the Pulitzer prize for fiction for Olive Kitteridge. The story centers on Jim and Bob Burgess, brothers whose lives are imprinted by a childhood tragedy in very different ways. Both pull up their stakes and secret miseries and move to New York City….and both are pulled back to their hometown by another family crisis. Elizabeth talks to Virginia about the book and it's connection to Maine.

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