Books

David J. Murray, Cleareyephoto.com

Anyone who's ever been an awkward adolescent knows that for decades now, dog-eared copies of Judy Blume's books have been passed around school playgrounds like secrets, or read under the covers after lights out. Her best known books - Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Deenie, Blubber, and Forever - offered young readers plain language and shame -free stories about periods, bullying, sexual urges and, even 'going all the way'.

Writers on a New England Stage: Judy Blume

Jul 25, 2016
David J. Murray / Cleareyephoto.com

Today on Word of Mouth, a conversation with Judy Blume, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth for Writers on a New England Stage, a partnership between NHPR, and The Music Hall. 

Judy Blume was one of the first authors to write frankly about the confusing, and often humiliating transition from childhood to adolescence. Her best known books were published in the 1970s. Are You There God? It's Me Margaret, Deenie, Blubber, and Forever offered young readers plain language and shame-free stories about periods, bullying, sexual urges and, even “doing it”. 

Kate Ter Haar via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/8dSmPK

In 2014, Southeast Asian was the new "it" cuisine. Then it was southern Mediterranean, then Peruvian... Now simple, "back to the land" cooking is decidedly on-trend. So why aren't locavores swarming around Native American cuisine? Today on the show, the challenges of branding America's truly native food.

Then, in some of its darkest hours, America has turned to superhero comics for an escape - so have the nation's citizens. We speak to the editor of an anthology exploring the relationship between writers and the heroes who inspired them.  

Sara Plourde, NHPR

Donald Hall is now 87 and no longer writing poetry, a pursuit he calls "a young man's game" which takes "too much testosterone." But Hall, former Poet Laureate of both New Hampshire and the United States, long ago cemented his place in literary history. In this episode of the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop, Virginia and Sara traveled to Hall's home in Wilmot, NH, to speak to him - getting lost along the way, and, ultimately, finding themselves right at home.

In his new book, Dead Presidents, NHPR's Brady Carlson unearths the offbeat and wacky ways we've memorialized our Commanders-in-Chief, from a laxative drink called Garfield tea to a game called Hooverball.

  This program was originally broadcast on 2/25/16.

Karin Dalziel via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/cBYCEh

Identifying potential terrorists is crucial to thwarting future attacks. The challenge is discerning real threats from bravado. Today on the show, how do security analysts survey thoughts?

Then, we’ll learn about two young men who embarked on a bold crime spree, stealing thousands of dollars worth of gold and weapons right in front of their victims…the hitch? It all went down in a video game.

Chris Ball via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/fgCbCo

Last year, President Obama toured a federal prison in Oklahoma - an unprecedented move for a sitting president and a clear sign of the administration's focus on criminal justice reform. Among its proposed reforms is a call to "ban the box" – which would move or remove questions about a job applicant's criminal history. Today, should the box also be banned from college applications?

Then, hip hop has been key to the runaway success of Hamilton...suddenly people are rapping about American history. Now, an educator and lyricist is applying that formula to the classroom. 

Bookish: A Celebration of Books

Jun 27, 2016

We're trying something a little different today on the show. In nine short chapters, we present the life cycle of a book -- the cliff notes version. You'll hear tales, tips and anecdotes on all sorts of odd parts of the process - from pitching a publisher to crafting the perfect blurb, and everywhere in between.

So whether you're an aspiring writer, an avid reader, a constant procrastinator, or an audiobooks aficionado - there's a little something for everybody.  

How To Pitch A Book Agent

Jun 27, 2016
Photo: Jessica Lund/National Library of Sweden / via flickr Creative Commons

Perhaps you’ve had the idea for a novel or memoir floating around in your head for years. Maybe your first draft is already finished! Now, it’s time for the most intimidating part - pitching your idea to an agent or publisher. In anticipation of our book show, we asked listeners to submit their 150-word book pitches and in turn, we sent them to Michelle Brower, a literary agent with Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.

In Conversation With Richard Russo

Jun 24, 2016
Camille Gévaudan via Wikimedia Commonc CC

Today, a conversation with Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls and Nobody's Fool, which was adapted into a film starring Paul Newman as Donald "Sully" Sullivan -  a quick-witted under-achiever eking out a living in a decaying factory town.

6.23.16: How We Can Be More Nordic & Citizen Khan

Jun 23, 2016
Valerio Fuoglio via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/dcPCcv

Bernie Sanders’ proposals for free education and healthcare were flatly rejected by those who said "we are not Denmark". A new book argues that the policies and protections in Nordic countries don't work because of shared benevolence, but because they benefit everyone's selfish interests. Today, a Finnish expat gives the US a pep talk.

Then, Zarif Khan migrated to America in the early 20th century and became prosperous and beloved in his Wyoming town...though the law prevented his citizenship.

In Conversation With Russell Banks

Jun 20, 2016

Russell Banks is one of contemporary fiction's most acclaimed writers. With six short story collection and more than a dozen novels to his credit, Banks has portrayed the hard scrabble lives of people hemmed in by class, race and geography. 

Virginia sat down with Russell Banks in front of a live audience at the Shapiro Library and Learning Commons at Southern New Hampshire University. The event commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the SNHU's Master of Fine Arts in Fiction and Non-Fiction program. 

Charles Wheelan on What Money Is and Why It Matters

Jun 17, 2016
alisonbowden14 / Flickr/CC

In his new book, economist Charles Wheelan untangles our complex monetary and banking systems, and why they've veered toward disaster at multiple points throughout our history.  Wheelan also highlights the role individuals, as well a financial institutions, have played in spurring economic prosperity and adversity.


Writers On A New England Stage: Patti Smith

Jun 14, 2016
(C) Hear and There Photography, CC BY 4.0 / http://on.fb.me/1QGOtR4

On today's show, it's Writers on a New England Stage with Patti Smith, recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. A poet, musician, and photographer, Smith is often called “the godmother of punk”. She co-wrote the radio hit "Because the Night" with Bruce Springsteen, but soon afterward she stepped off stage to move to Detroit and raise her family. It was with the publication of Just Kids in 2010 that she transformed from downtown cult figure to National Book Award-winning writer. 

American Dueling Grounds, Chuck Klosterman, & SpaceX

Jun 10, 2016
Nat Welch / https://flic.kr/p/dZ3KLR

Dueling was once a common part of the American experience. Today, we’ll learn more about this history and some popular dueling spots that that public can still visit today.

And what if we're wrong about everything? Pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman takes on the difficult task of predicting how our present will be viewed hundreds of years from now. We'll talk about the next great American novelist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and the improbable factor that kept Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/sc9pR8

In July, nutrition fact labels  will see their first major overhaul in twenty years. Among the changes, a jumbo version of the calorie number - three times bigger than the rest of the listed information. Today, if we focus too much on calories, do we miss the bigger problem?

And what if we're wrong about everything? Pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman takes on the difficult task of predicting how our present will be viewed hundreds of years from now. We'll talk about the next great American novelist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and the improbable factor that kept Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

Richard Russo is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Empire Falls and Nobody’s Fool - both were adapted into films starring Paul Newman. He returns to the fictional working class town of North Bath for his most recent novel, Everybody's Fool.

Richard Russo photo by Elena Seibert

This event is Thursday, May 26th at 7:00pm at the Capital Center for the Arts. Check back for the radio version which will air at a later date on Word of Mouth. 

Richard Russo won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel Empire Falls, but many people know him best as author of Nobody's Fool, which was adapted into a movie with Paul Newman playing Donald "Sully" Sullivan, who spends much of his time in a dive bar in the fading factory town of North Bath, NY.

Writers on a New England Stage: Joe Hill

May 25, 2016
David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

Joe Hill is the author of several short story collections, the Locke & Key comic book series, and best-selling novels The Heart-Shaped Box, NOS4A2, and Horns. He joined Virginia Prescott for a conversation for Writers on a New England Stage in Portsmouth on May 16, 2016.

Scott Anderson via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/qwUuhb

“Birthday suit”, “in the buff”, “wearing nothing but a smile.” Call it what you will, on today’s show we’ll strip bare the American nudism movement and we’ll explore the progressive-era origins and continuing tensions over what it means to take it all off.

Then, people love dogs - but few pay attention to the most common variety - village dogs. We're speaking with two experts who have spent their lives traveling around the world and studying the truest essence of dog. 

We Want Your Pitches

May 5, 2016
Fredrik Rubensson via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/ffFhz5

We've been working on an idea of an episode all about how books get made - from the first kernel of an idea, to selling the idea to an agent or publisher, to self-publishing to who writes those blurbs on the back of the final copy.

Kartik Anand via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/aEZrQN

Homegrown terrorism, gun violence, Zika - there's plenty of real stuff to get freaked out about. So can America be 100% safe?  No, says a security expert slash mom, and your kids know it's not. But that's ok. Today, a former homeland security big wig refuses to be ruled by paranoia and offers tips on how to prepare your family for the unknown without becoming a prepper.

Plus, the true story of humble scholars-turned-smugglers to save rare books and manuscripts from sure destruction by Al Qaeda.

JDHRosewater via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/pXMPW8

It's known on the street as Ecstasy, MDX, or Molly, but MDMA is now being tested as a way to treat the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic PTSD. Today, one of the premier drivers of MDMA research brings his mission to fund clinical trials to New England.

Then, fans of Downton Abbey know that it takes a well-oiled domestic staff to keep a British estate looking pristine. We’re taking deeper look into the history of British servitude...and cleaning.

Guy Sie via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/6gdiLA

The word vitamin has only been around for just over 100 years.  But now vitamins are a $36 billion dollar-a-year industry. Today, the history and science behind a mostly unregulated market.

Plus, can a dress shirt be racist?  An online retailer has come up with an algorithm they say ensures a near-perfect fit... But part of that data set includes ethnicity, prompting questions about the connection between ethnicity and biology.

4.18.16: Small Bombs & the Penny Poet of Portsmouth

Apr 18, 2016
Todd Van Hoosear via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/ozXTre

In the age of global terrorism, some attacks get more attention than others. We got blanket coverage of coordinated bombs in Brussels, but little on explosions in Turkey just nine days before or the devastating suicide bomb in Iraq a week later. Today, the far-reaching effects of "small" bombs - those exploding in Middle Eastern and South Asian cities with alarming regularity that often go ignored.

Then, a writer reflects on her friendship with Robert Dunn, a character seemingly from another age, known as Portsmouth's Penny Poet.

Sandra via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/jFBvc4

When we were growing up, eggs were eggs - packed by the dozen in cardboard cartons, consumers weren't all that picky about what they were taking home.  Walk into a grocery store today... And the choices are overwhelming. Today we decode grocery store egg labels.

Plus, a look at an app designed to split restaurant bills by inequality of wages based on gender and race.

On this episode, author, columnist and critic Olivia Laing. Her most recent work, The Lonely City, is part memoir, part searching exploration of loneliness and artists whose outsider experience inspired and fed  their creativity - from seeming social gadfly Andy Warhol to the reclusive Henry Darger. She is also the author of To the River and The Trip to Echo Spring.

Shane Burkhardt via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/yZ34mF

For decades, environmentalists have fought to keep plastic, glass, paper and other recyclables out of landfills where they’d sit for thousands of years…so, is recycling truly making a difference in the health of the planet? Today, some data that challenges recycling’s sanctified status.

Then, India’s government says it will clean up the horribly polluted Ganges, the river which supports ten percent of the world’s population. The first step: working with the Hindu belief that the Ganges is holy, self-purifying and the place to be buried. 

takomabibelot via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/8KAyxE

A while ago came the news that the US is in grave danger of a clown shortage. Today we'll get a report from a clown convention and find out why membership is down, but why clowns are still unlikely to completely disappear. 

We'll also talk to a futurist about ectogenesis, or artificial wombs. Often referenced in science fiction, the idea of children being grown outside of a mother's body is inching closer to reality.

Plus, the latest 10-Minute Writer's Workshop with anatomical historian Alice Dreger. 

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.

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