As a soldier, an army officer, and then a Foreign Service officer Ron Capps experienced five wars in ten years, and came home with severe PTSD. Today on Word of Mouth, he discusses founding the Veterans Writing Project, and the power of the written word in coping with the psychic wounds of war. Then, from Scottish bag pipes in the mid-18th century to Metallica in the mid-2000s, we’ll take a brief tour through the history of music as a weapon of war. Plus, a diehard Oasis fan is forced to admit that the band’s rivalry with Blur has unfairly colored his perception for the past 20 years.
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When Christopher Hermelin moved to New York, he lived like countless other jobless 20-somethings: no prospects, no money, and rent due at the first of the month. But instead of kicking around in a café, he hit the streets with a ten dollar typewriter and a sign printed: “Stories while you wait. Sliding scale, donate what you can.” And…it worked! Passersby paid him to write one-of-a-kind stories on the spot. While he isn’t the only person to make a living like this, on the streets of New York, he might be the one person whose photograph showed up on the internet. We’ll let him pick up the story from there. Christopher Hermelin is “The Roving Typist.”
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."
When was the last time you read a book? Not for work, not a kid’s bedtime story, but a real honest to goodness book, just for the pleasure of reading?
If you sheepishly answered, "more than a year ago," you’re not alone. A recent survey puts the number of Americans who have failed to crack a spine in more than a year at one in four. While new technological distractions have certainly cut into our reading time, our next guest would also like to blame the Sisyphean task of merely trying to choose a book that’s worthy of reading. His solution? Authors should take a break from writing to give readers a chance to catch up.
Colin Robinson is a co-founder of the New York based independent publisher OR.
Producer's note: Unfortunately, technical difficulties on Tom's end prevented him from being able to join us for this segment...but as he's one of our favorite writers, we will make every attempt to get him on the program soon! /RL
Literary journals offer aspiring writers a window into the process of professional publishing and immersion in the community of writers. They are a mainstay of MFA programs, and as well as a number of graduate and post-grad programs in the sciences. We wanted to know more about the creative lives of America’s future practitioners after leafing through Lifelines. That’s Dartmouth Medical School’s arts journal.
If If fiction writers can learn from police reports, true crime writers have the tricky task of transforming those reports into prose. Word of Mouth Senior Producer Rebecca Lavoie is also a true crime author. She and her husband Kevin Flynn have written and published two books, in the genre.
However much he saw of the world, Ernest Hemingway’s economical style of writing is often referred to as the iceberg theory…meaning that only one-eighth of the story behind a narrative needs to be above water. We were reminded of this when we found the article "The Art of the Police Report" last year in the Writer’s Chronicle. The article drew lessons for crafting powerful prose from police reports filed by members of the Los Angeles Police Department.
I'm an English professor, and I spent the first 15 years of my career trying to write like one. You might be surprised by what that's like. We don't emulate the fiction writers we most admire. We too rarely practice what we preach to our composition students — namely that good writing is simple and direct. In fact, we're notorious for maze-y sentences and ugly jargon. The point seems less to attract readers with clear prose than to smack them over the head with a sign that says, "Aren't I smart?"
Ready for some creative competition? Weekends on All Things Considered is launching Round 8 of its Three-Minute Fiction contest. Here's what we look for: original, short fiction that can be read in less than three minutes — that's no more than 600 words.
In his introduction to an anthology of The Best Music Writing 2011, Alex Ross shares a selection of tweets reacting to bassist and singer Esperanza Spaulding’s upset over teen star Justin Bieber for the Best New Artist Grammy.