Books

Alice Dreger is a historian of science, anatomy, and medicine, known for her work studying and advocating for people born with atypical sex disorders. She famously resigned from Northwestern University in protest of academic censorship, and gained some infamy on Twitter for live-tweeting her son's sex education class. We had a delightful chat with her about her writing process in advance of the paperback release of her book, Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science.

The Caped Crusade, Dark Heart, & Alexander Chee

Mar 25, 2016
nur_h via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/6c3Msd

Today, from TV's campy crusader to the Dark Knight, Batman has been reflected American anxieties and social norms for almost 80 years. We'll explore his appeal as a mere mortal among superhumans, making him a magnet for our heroic dreams. 

Then, the phrase, "if it bleeds, it leads" has long been a critique of journalism, but a new book of pulp-fiction style stories by New England reporters plays up the lurid, sensational, side of following crime. Today, we'll talk to two of the veteran reporters behind Murder Ink.

Plus, a pair of true crime writers comb through the dark fantasies exposed at the trial of Seth Mazzalia.

Tamás Mészáros via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/eimCUu

The phrase, "if it bleeds, it leads" has long been a critique of journalism, but a new book of pulp-fiction style stories by New England reporters plays up the lurid, sensational, side of following crime. Today, we'll talk to two of the veteran reporters behind Murder Ink.

Also today, a look back at the roots of film noir, and a pair of true crime writers comb through the dark fantasies exposed at the trial of Seth Mazzalia.

M. Sharkey

Alexander Chee is a careful craftsman of language. As we came to find out, when we talked to him from Argot Studios in NYC, he is as measured, unassuming and thoughtful in his speech. A retiring man, who prefers to write in transient spaces, he also just so happens to have penned the most hotly anticipated literary novel of 2016 - The Queen of the Night, a sophomore work fifteen years in the making*.

Simon & Schuster

Long-time NPR reporter and five-time author Tom Gjelten recently visited the studios here at NHPR. We, of course, couldn't resist talking to him about his latest book, A Nation of Nations, and asking him for ten minutes.

What's harder to write - the first sentence, or the last?

David Hale Smith via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/ecEZWt

From solitary poets to reclusive painters, loneliness is a rich vein for artists. Today, writer Olivia Laing meditates on this essential part of the human condition.

Then - we'll talk to the designer behind one of NASA's viral ad campaigns, a beautiful set of travel posters that put a mid-century spin on the future of space tourism. And, we’ll delve into the history of the iconic NASA logo known as "the meatball" and its doomed successor "the worm.”

What to Read Now: Spring Book Picks, 2016

Mar 8, 2016
NHPR

We'll hear about some of the best new books coming out this spring. Also, check out NHPR's other book-related series: The Bookshelf is an NHPR project featuring authors from around New Hampshire and the region, as well as books about New Hampshire by authors from anywhere. And the 10 Minute Writer's Workshop is a new podcast featuring interviews with writers about their writing process.

TexasGOPVote.com via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/9mNV9x

Mid-life crises are embarrassing and all-too-common...but surely not among the prudent judges of nation's highest court? On today’s show, a former court clerk's new novel imagines a Supreme Court justice going off the rails.

Then, we'll hear about how today's gyms are building personal bathrooms and shower stalls for body shy millennials -- one writer thinks it's absurd for adults to fear getting undressed in front of others.

click-see via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/V62An

From the solitary writer to the reclusive painter, loneliness is a rich vein for artists. Today, Olivia Laing meditates on her own bouts of loneliness, what it has meant to the world's great creative minds and why such an essential human experience cannot be wholly worthless.

Then, a historian on what ads seeking the capture of runaway slaves reveal about the identity, character and lives of runaways. 

We're talking with the author of a new book on the unlikely ways in which inventors think up groundbreaking ideas.

Logan Shannon

We spoke to YouTube superstar and writer of books Grace Helbig after the publication of her second tongue-in-cheek guide, Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It. She gave us a glimpse at her writing process backstage at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH before a Writers on a New England Stage event.

Chris Bohjalian has written some thrilling novels tackling some tough subjects - Armenian genocide, the ethics of midwifery, and, most recently, in The Guest Room, sex trafficking - but he speaks about the process of writing with humor and aplomb.

What's harder to write - the first sentence or the last?

2.1.16: Dead Presidents & Killer Heels

Feb 1, 2016
Brady Carlson / bradycarlson.com

After Iowans caucus tonight, the candidates will be back in New Hampshire, making a case for why they deserve to be president. The job's got plenty of perks, but it also means giving over your life, and your death. On today’s show, from mountainside monuments to commemorative sandwiches, we'll explore how America remembers its dead presidents.

Also today, high heeled shoes: mocked, coveted, and symbolic to feminists and fashionistas. We'll learn about the history of high heel shoes and why they haven’t always been a symbol of feminine status.

Sara Plourde, NHPR

Tom Perrotta is the author behind, among others, Little Children, The Abstinence Teacher, and The Leftovers, now a hit HBO drama which he co-writes. Recently, he provided the foreword to a new Penguin edition of The Scarlet Letter. For this episode of the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop, we made a date with him and settled into a corner of Harvard Book Store to ask him about his writing process.

Plenty of would-be presidents are criss-crossing New Hampshire these days, each hoping he or she will be the one moving into the White House next January.

But plenty of sitting presidents have made their way through this state as well, going all the way back to the first one.

Drew Reilly

Described as "David Lynch for teenagers," award-winning crime writer Megan Abbott. Her latest, The Fever, seemed to make every Best of 2014 list, from the Village Voice, to Amazon, to NPR. Her forthcoming novel, You Will Know Me, is out in July 2016.

We spoke to Megan from Manhattan on a busy NYC New Year's Eve, 2015.

John Flannery via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/fDHm4S

The term "protest song" conjures up songs from the 1960s...and artists from Nina Simone and Sam Cooke to Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. If we are living in a new civil rights era, what do protests songs sound like in 2016? We have a playlist and analysis.

Then, we all have baggage. The things we inherit from our childhood that clutter our psyches. What happens when that clutter is actually physical -- from generations of hoarding? We'll hear from a woman who rejected her chaotic upbringing in favor of extreme minimalism, and found that less is not always more.

Opus Penguin via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/apu85t

In November, Paul Ryan stepped onto the floor of the US Capital sporting a beard, the first bewhiskered Speaker of the House in a century. On today’s show, has the beard boom hit Washington?  

Then, from Bill Clinton to Ben & Jerry--when campaign season hits, political surrogates come out of the woodwork. We'll find out who is stumping for whom, and why it matters.

We’ll also open the history books for a serious look at a surprisingly well-rewarded skill, with roots reaching back to ancient Sumerians: professional flatulence.

Public Radio Tulsa

In this 10-Minute Writer's Workshop web extra, author Kate Christensen - novelist, memoirist, foodie. We caught up with her, at the farm in northern New Hampshire she calls home, after the publication of her latest book, How to Cook a Moose.

 

r. nial bradshaw via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/vsHTwa

No matter how polished, prepped, and put together he or she may be, every presidential candidate copes with an Achilles heel. On today’s show, we'll find out how Marco Rubio capitalized on reaching for the water bottle...again and again and again. Then, need a gift idea for the book lover in your life? We'll go beyond the best seller list for a sampling of the best overlooked books of 2015, including a collection of short stories from Kelly Link.

Andrew Councill / New York Times

Recently, author and famed political satirist Christopher Buckley - son of William F. and the man behind Thank You for Smoking -  spoke with us about his latest novel, The Relic Master. We asked him to give us an inside look at his writing process. The conversation is part of a series we call the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop.

Leo Newball Jr. via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/6j8MRH

No matter how polished, prepped, and put together he or she may be, every presidential candidate copes with an Achilles heel. On today’s show, we'll find out how Marco Rubio capitalized on reaching for the water bottle...again and again and again. Then, need a gift idea for the book lover in your life? We'll go beyond the best seller list for a sampling of the best overlooked books of 2015, including a collection of short stories from Kelly Link.

Kenny Louie via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/eaGPCC

The annual tsunami of best-of book lists is upon us - a time for critics to tell us what we should have been reading, watching and listening to in 2015. Here at Word of Mouth, we tend to root for the underdog...so we are proud to present a sort-of Island of Misfit Toys equivalent of the year's best. 

Best Books for the Holidays, 2015

Dec 9, 2015

It’s our annual holiday book show: two N.H. independent booksellers give us their picks for the best reads of 2015. 

Guests:  

Fiona Wen Hui C via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/8cnsk4

At 5,525 miles, the US and Canadian border is the longest and friendliest in the world, but the long relationship between the two nations is not without conflict. Today, a history of US-Canadian skirmishes and why a war between neighbors isn’t out of the question. Plus, researchers in Virginia may be turning a long held belief about early America on its head. 

John W. Iwanski via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/adzSde

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In times of mourning, we emphasize the cyclical nature of life and death - and yet, American burial practices are mostly designed to halt the natural process of decomposition. Today on Word of Mouth, a look at the historical forces that pushed America towards embalming and containment, and the growing "green burial" movement. Plus, how American judges are grappling with a difficult to interpret form of evidence that's starting to be introduced in the courtroom - the emoji.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Recently, the multi-talented poet/artist/rock legend Patti Smith joined us to discuss her latest memoir, M Train, for our program Writers on a New England Stage. Before the show, we sat down with Patti in the greenroom of the Music Hall to talk about her writing process. The conversation is part of a series we call the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop.

What's harder to write - the first sentence or the last?

rachel a. k. via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/zJNSNf

Garamond, Times New Roman, Helvetica. We use them so often, it’s easy to forget that typefaces are licensed products – and just like other forms of media, they can be pirated and plagiarized. Today, we confront the rampant problem of typeface piracy. Then, the founder of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, urges our inner-writer out of its shell. 

Writers On A New England Stage: Stacy Schiff

Nov 9, 2015
David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

On today's show it's Writers on a New England Stage with Stacy Schiff, recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of biographies of Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov, Benjamin Franklin, and Cleopatra, is known for discovering the real overlaid by popular mythologies. Her most recent book takes on the enduring fictions of one of the most confounding and hysterical events in American history: the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Neil Howard via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/pSpJ6w

Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” His two years spent in solitude at Walden Pond left an indelible mark on the national psyche – and cemented the relationship between the inner self and the outdoors. Today, a writer reflects on two years in a cabin in the Vermont woods. Then, first we get rid of all the bosses!  We check in on the online retailer, Zappos, six months after their radical shift – getting rid of managers and declaring a self-organizing workforce. 

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