Books

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.

“Books Behind Bars” is program which pairs undergraduates from the University of Virginia with inmates at the Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center to read classic Russian literature. Prison staff notice a marked change in behavior among inmates who take the class, and researchers have documented similar improvements in decision-making, social skill, and civic engagement among prisoners and undergrads who participate in the class.

It may be the largest war in the world that we don’t hear about. The death toll of what is now called the Great War of Africa likely stretches into the millions.

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.

drinksmachine via Flickr Creative Commons

Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO hit series Girls, recently signed 3.5 million dollar book contact for a memoir. When published, Dunham’s book will share shelf space with bestsellers like Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened:  A Mostly True Memoir and Heather McDonald’s My Inapropriate Life: Some Material Not Suitable For Small Children, Nuns Or Mature Adults.  Part humor, part memoir, books in this category are almost always written by women and openly explore sex, drinking and even mental illness in a brazen and unrepentant manner.  And readers, especially those that are not offended easily, are snapping them up. 

Jean Railla, a writer and cultural observer is here to tell us more.  

Related: Gawker's viral blog about Lena Dunham's book deal.

Biographer Amity Shlaes say our thirtieth president was deeper than his nickname Silent Cal suggests or what his critics called a man of few words and.. frequent naps.. but a visionary conservative who promoted ideas of limited government and individual responsibility  and who oversaw an era of remarkable growth and optimism that preceded the Great Depression.

Guest

A new book by a Dartmouth professor explores the changing world of advances in technology, medicine, and marketing and the greater role that developing nations are playing. More and more, innovations are occurring in poorer countries, then exported to wealthy nations, turning traditional patterns on their head. We’ll hear some examples, and why our guest says this could benefit everyone.

Guest

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.

wfuv via Flickr Creative Commons

Moving back in time for a moment to 1976 when The Band released The Last Waltz, Martin Scorcese’s film of that final show at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.  The film is often held up as the greatest rock movie ever and almost universally loved, except by Levon Helm…the musician,  actor, composer and original member of The Band who died a year ago this week. But then, Levon Helm was a drummer who marched to a different drummer, Helm ’s creative struggles,  crippling personal losses, and musical renaissance after battling cancer are at the heart of a new documentary film,and a new book by the writer, editor and spy magazine alum Jamie Malanowski.

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.

America is no stranger to North Korea in the headlines; South Korea's army is on alert today after a suspected cyberattack by their northern neighbors. The eniamatic empire is still living under the cloud of its departed dictator, Kim Jong Il. Now celebrity ghostwriter Michael Malice is setting his sights on an “unauthorized autobiography” based on late North Korean leader. The late public figure and his country isn’t often associated with comedy these days, but Malice seeks to use humor to elicit understanding amidst a strong cultural divide.

Leo Reynods via Flickr Creative Commons

Our niftiest and spiffiest content, all in one great show. This week, a look at the shifting human condition. Holocaust survivors being turned into holograms, a Russian "Swiss Family Robinson" that missed most of the 20th Century, corporate anthropologists, transplant "tourism," the nasty effect of internet comments, and a former professor pens a memoir about being stalked by an ex- student online.

Hatherleigh Press

Research published last month suggests that major mental illnesses may have more genetic associations than previously thought, perhaps leading to new diagnoses and treatments. Author David Blistein wrote his latest book, "David's Inferno: My Journey Through the Dark Wood of Depression,"  inspired by his own experience.

Emily Carlin vis flickr Creative Commons

Last week, we came across an info-graphic that went viral among bookish types on Facebook and Twitter. VIDA, an organization for women in the literary arts, released a series of charts illustrating the results of “VIDA Count 2012”…that’s a tally of male and female book reviewers at major publications --  including The Atlantic, Harpers, and The New York Times Book Review -- and the  gender of authors they reviewed over the past three years. Jason Boog is editor of the publishing website "Galleycat", where he blogged about the findings.

New Fiction of 2013

Mar 5, 2013
Sara Plourde / NHPR

For our special March Fund Drive kick-off, we bring you an extra program with our "Book Buffs." Two New Hampshire independent booksellers talk about the latest literary offerings, including some from New England authors. We’ll hear what’s coming this spring from the publishing world. We’ll also take your suggestions on what new fiction is tops on your list.

Guests

Dave Barry

Feb 21, 2013
Monte Bohanan, The Music Hall

The Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist joins us with his first solo adult novel in over a decade – the darkly comic Insane City. The book is a riotous tale of a destination wedding gone awry with Russian gangsters, angry strippers, a pimp as big as the Death Star, a very desperate Haitian refugee on the run with her two children from some very bad men, and an eleven-foot Burmese albino python named Blossom.

Mark Larson via Flickr Creative Commons

Nearly half a century ago, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood detailed the savage murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. That book is regarded as a literary landmark… the first so-called “nonfiction novel” that brought the true crime genre to the mainstream and cemented Capote’s celebrity status. It’s inspired three films, among them, “Capote,” in 2005, which earned a best actor Oscar for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Our shiniest and sparkliest content, all in one show-tacular program. This week, a Salon writer contemplates the history of "white Southern defeat," a foremost expert on gluten explores the hype around the latest food trend, New Hampshire author Ben Nugent talks about his new novel, "Good Kids," and illustrator Danny Gregory explains how grief was overcome with art. Oh, and Sean Hurley contemplates the danger of skating on thick ice.

You can also hear the show on SoundCloud:

Photo by Kate Lacy Photography, courtesy of petside.com

On Monday, Westminster kicks off its 137th contest in front of a packed house at New York’s Madison Square Garden, and no shortage of bemused TV spectators on America’s couches.  For most, the world of competitive dog handling is a mysterious one – we at Word of Mouth were forced to admit while prepping for this segment that the bulk of our show-dog knowledge stems from the 2000 Westminster mockumentary, Best in Show, directed by Cristopher Guest. 

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Math has had a good run. Its virtues were extolled during the presidential debates and in endless news stories calculated fiscal scenarios.  New York Times blogger Nate Silver was pilloried by math, then vindicated. Still, mathematics and the data-driven statistics that guide decisions from Wall Street to the dugout to your insurance rates are woefully misunderstood.

If you’re in the mood for a little self-improvement at the start of the year, you’ll have no trouble finding guides; there are at least 45,000 self-help books currently in print. They run the gamut: the self-made man, mind-cures, chicken soup, subliminal messages and Zen meditation. They’re published in dozens of languages, but self-help books are predominately an American phenomenon.  To explain why, we turn to Laura Vanderkam, author of “The Paperback Quest for Joy”.

Audio Pending...

Jared Diamond

Jan 9, 2013
David J. Murray / cleareyephoto.com

Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author of Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel, takes the stage to discuss his latest foray into a field he has made his own -- a biological analysis of human history.

We’re beginning the new year with some "culture-vores" about which trends and habits they expect to fade out or faze in during 2013… Joining us for more on the literary scene is Jason Boog, editor of the publishing news website Galley Cat...and, for more on what’s coming up for food in 2013, we asked Maine chef and cookbook author, Kathy Gunst – who cautions that watching for culinary trends is not an entirely objective undertaking.

Brady Carlson / NHPR

Fritz Wetherbee is no stranger to milestones – he has five Emmys, an honorary doctorate, and perhaps most importantly, his own bobblehead doll.

Now he’s reached another mark – one thousand stories through eight books. Hence the title of his latest collection, “Milestone.”

Emalord via Flickr Creative Commons

Most of us read 1984 and Lord of the Flies in high school, but the new dystopian novel has grown in popularity beyond the required reading list to include a new generation of young fans.  David Sobel looks at the legion of apocryphal novels set in worlds devastated by wars and environmental collapse now aimed at teens as emblematic of a rising tide of hopelessness. He is a member of the senior faculty at Antioch New England, and his article “Feed the Hunger” was published in the November-December issue of Orion magazine.


Sean Hurley

Publisher Bennet Cerf once bet Dr. Seuss that he couldn’t write a book using only 50 words.

The words were:

…a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

Micro

Dec 19, 2012
praveenspravi

With the recent paperback reissue of Michael Crichton's posthumously published book, Micro, we thought our segment from last year was worth revisiting. Does a sci-fi novel about nanotechnology improve with age? You be the judge.

Today we spoke with Robin Whitten, founder and editor of AudioFile magazine about the best books read by celebrities in 2012.

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