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Steve Ericsson Shadowbahn
February 10, 2017 08:41 AM PST
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Steve Erickson author of Shadowbahn, just published last week by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin.

Steve is the author of ten novels, including (some of my favorites) Days Between Stations, Tours of the Black Clock, Arc d’X, Amnesiascope and Zeroville.

He’s written for everyone---Esquire, Rolling Stone, Salon, NYT Magazine. He’s received a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and a grant from the NEA.

I used to think that Steve’s books dealt with an alternative universe that somehow ran parallel to my own waking day-to-day reality. Given the recent troubles, I now feel that Steve’s new novel presents a more logical version of reality than the one I currently find myself in. I find it more likely that the twin towers reappear in the South Dakota badlands along with Elvis’ stillborn brother than I do that Steve Bannon is our new Cromwell and Sean Spicer spins the world weekly news, and the (Betsy Devoss) Tupperware queen is distributing the royal jelly of our educational resources to our youngsters.

Nonetheless it is true. The novel begins with the towers reappearing 20 years after their felling and in the upper floors (the 93rd to be exact) Jesse Presley finds himself alive, a life that had previously gone unrealized.

He doesn’t quite live up to certain standards however and due to that in part, the music we should have grown up on is not what it should be.

Not often that you read a book that references:

The Dead, The Doors, Hendrix, The Flatlanders, The Velvet Underground, Missy Elliot, The White Stripes, Aretha and Fredi Washington, to name (really!!) but a few.

To steal Steve’s (and Ralph Ellison’s) epigraph we can either live with music or die with noise and I sure as hell would rather spend my last years with a soundtrack.

Shadowbahn posits one of a myriad of futures, a future in which a divided America lives out a timescape in which the names Kennedy, Lennon and Presley carry different connotations and the most amazing thing about the book as I alluded to earlier, is that you feel you can hitch the caboose of the novel to another car that is the train that plummets down the track of this new and really really scary America.

1Q1A Steve Erickson Shadowbahn
February 10, 2017 08:40 AM PST
itunes pic

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Steve Erickson author of Shadowbahn, just published last week by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin.

Steve is the author of ten novels, including (some of my favorites) Days Between Stations, Tours of the Black Clock, Arc d’X, Amnesiascope and Zeroville.

He’s written for everyone---Esquire, Rolling Stone, Salon, NYT Magazine. He’s received a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and a grant from the NEA.

I used to think that Steve’s books dealt with an alternative universe that somehow ran parallel to my own waking day-to-day reality. Given the recent troubles, I now feel that Steve’s new novel presents a more logical version of reality than the one I currently find myself in. I find it more likely that the twin towers reappear in the South Dakota badlands along with Elvis’ stillborn brother than I do that Steve Bannon is our new Cromwell and Sean Spicer spins the world weekly news, and the (Betsy Devoss) Tupperware queen is distributing the royal jelly of our educational resources to our youngsters.

Nonetheless it is true. The novel begins with the towers reappearing 20 years after their felling and in the upper floors (the 93rd to be exact) Jesse Presley finds himself alive, a life that had previously gone unrealized.

He doesn’t quite live up to certain standards however and due to that in part, the music we should have grown up on is not what it should be.

Not often that you read a book that references:

The Dead, The Doors, Hendrix, The Flatlanders, The Velvet Underground, Missy Elliot, The White Stripes, Aretha and Fredi Washington, to name (really!!) but a few.

To steal Steve’s (and Ralph Ellison’s) epigraph we can either live with music or die with noise and I sure as hell would rather spend my last years with a soundtrack.

Shadowbahn posits one of a myriad of futures, a future in which a divided America lives out a timescape in which the names Kennedy, Lennon and Presley carry different connotations and the most amazing thing about the book as I alluded to earlier, is that you feel you can hitch the caboose of the novel to another car that is the train that plummets down the track of this new and really really scary America.

Elan Mastai All Our Wrong Todays
February 07, 2017 11:27 AM PST
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Élan Mastai, author of All Our Wrong Todays, his first novel.

Elan is first a screenwriter, and in fact, All Our Wrong Todays published just last week, by Dutton/Penguins going to be a movie and Elan is in the process of writing the screenplay for it right now.

Elan has been writing for about fifteen years for independent companies and for Fox Sony Warner Brothers and Paramount. He wrote What if (also known as The F word) starring Daniel Radcliffe and another great move is 2012’s The Samaritan staring Samuel Jackson.

Look, I’m old enough to remember reading Popular Science and Popular Mechanics when I was a kid, and seeing jetpacks and flying cars, amphibious vehicles, highways made of tracks that would accelerate and decelerate on command, domed cities on the moon and mars. I missed the fact that the future never arrived. I could never understand how 22 billion could get us to the moon 6 times in the 60s and 70s and we’re not plumbing the depths of Europa’s seas as we speak. What the hell happened?

It just doesn’t make any sense.

But guess what, Elan explains it all. See we didn’t lose the future, we just lost the time. We got stuck in some backwater reality due to the mistakes of a dorky protagonist named Tom, who mistakenly uses a time machine to undo what was a pretty cool reality, with perfectly ripe avocados and greats sleep with great dreams and turn it into our waking day to day reality of traffic jams leftover remembers of semi nightmares and architecture that sucks.

But all is not lost, because as Elan will surely explain, there is more than one way to skin the past, although each of those ways is fraught with peril.

1Q1a Elan Mastai All Our Wrong Todays
February 07, 2017 11:25 AM PST
itunes pic

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Élan Mastai, author of All Our Wrong Todays, his first novel.

Elan is first a screenwriter, and in fact, All Our Wrong Todays published just last week, by Dutton/Penguins going to be a movie and Elan is in the process of writing the screenplay for it right now.

Elan has been writing for about fifteen years for independent companies and for Fox Sony Warner Brothers and Paramount. He wrote What if (also known as The F word) starring Daniel Radcliffe and another great move is 2012’s The Samaritan staring Samuel Jackson.

Look, I’m old enough to remember reading Popular Science and Popular Mechanics when I was a kid, and seeing jetpacks and flying cars, amphibious vehicles, highways made of tracks that would accelerate and decelerate on command, domed cities on the moon and mars. I missed the fact that the future never arrived. I could never understand how 22 billion could get us to the moon 6 times in the 60s and 70s and we’re not plumbing the depths of Europa’s seas as we speak. What the hell happened?

It just doesn’t make any sense.

But guess what, Elan explains it all. See we didn’t lose the future, we just lost the time. We got stuck in some backwater reality due to the mistakes of a dorky protagonist named Tom, who mistakenly uses a time machine to undo what was a pretty cool reality, with perfectly ripe avocados and greats sleep with great dreams and turn it into our waking day to day reality of traffic jams leftover remembers of semi nightmares and architecture that sucks.

But all is not lost, because as Elan will surely explain, there is more than one way to skin the past, although each of those ways is fraught with peril.

The River at Night Erica Ferencik
February 02, 2017 07:34 AM PST
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of the Avid Reader. Today our guest is Erica Ferencik, author of The River at Night published just last week by Scout Press an imprint of Simon and Shuster.

Erica is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at BU. Her work has appeared in Salon and the Boston Globe and on NPR. You can find out more about her work on her website.

The River at Night is a book about four “approaching middle age” women on a regular annual girls weekend off trip. That turns our to be anything but regular.

1Q1A Erica Ferencik The River at Night
February 02, 2017 07:33 AM PST
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of the Avid Reader. Today our guest is Erica Ferencik, author of The River at Night published just last week by Scout Press an imprint of Simon and Shuster.

Erica is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at BU. Her work has appeared in Salon and the Boston Globe and on NPR. You can find out more about her work on her website.

The River at Night is a book about four “approaching middle age” women on a regular annual girls weekend off trip. That turns our to be anything but regular.

Josh Barkan Mexico
February 02, 2017 07:01 AM PST
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of the Avid Reader. Today our guest is Josh Barkan author of Mexico:Stories, published by Hogarth just last week.

Josh teaches at NYU and is currently Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Hollings University.

He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. His first published work was Before Hiroshima and his next work was the novel Blind Speed.

Much of Josh’s work is informed by the place he lives and he has traveled a lot.

Mexico is a collection of twelve short stories that deal exclusively with Mexico, and for reasons will delve into, also exclusively deal with violence in Mexico.

Each of the stories contains an element of unnecessary human cruelly, but usually couple with and counterpointed by, and equal element of humor or human compassion or redemption.

It’s hart to decide whether a thorough reading of this book would encourage you to take your next vacation in Mexico or to avoid the country like the plague for the rest of your life.

Because of this election cycle, the stories are somewhat polarizing because of what our new and moronic President has chosen to do with Mexico in his thoughts (such as they are) his words, and his actions.

So it will be interesting to get Josh’s take on all of these issues

Maxine Clarke Foreign Soil
January 26, 2017 06:57 AM PST
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Our guest today is Maxine Beneba Clarke, author of Foreign Soil, published by 37 INK/Atria on January 3rd.

Maxine is a novelist, poet and editor living in Melbourne Australia. She was the Hazel Rowley Fellowship winner for Biography and also won the 2013 Victorian Premier Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. Foreign Soil is Maxine’s first book.

And is a collection of 11 short stories, stories that are full of pain, meanness, nostalgia, fear, monsters, sometimes happiness and sometimes a bit of a harbinger of what America has done to itself with our election of Donald Trump.

The stories are engaging, surprising, emotionally riveting and haunting and each conveys something that at the time of reading the first word, one didn’t expect. Hard to do.

They take place all over the world. America, London, Australia, Jamaica, Africa, yet they all knife us with a stark reality about the world around us, not necessarily a world we choose, but a world that increasingly and most recently, closes in around us.

These stories are different than what you’ve read lately, and for that reason alone (amongst many others) I encourage you to come by the shop and pick up a copy.

1Q1A Maxine Clark Foreign Soil
January 26, 2017 06:56 AM PST
itunes pic

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Our guest today is Maxine Beneba Clarke, author of Foreign Soil, published by 37 INK/Atria on January 3rd.

Maxine is a novelist, poet and editor living in Melbourne Australia. She was the Hazel Rowley Fellowship winner for Biography and also won the 2013 Victorian Premier Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. Foreign Soil is Maxine’s first book.

And is a collection of 11 short stories, stories that are full of pain, meanness, nostalgia, fear, monsters, sometimes happiness and sometimes a bit of a harbinger of what America has done to itself with our election of Donald Trump.

The stories are engaging, surprising, emotionally riveting and haunting and each conveys something that at the time of reading the first word, one didn’t expect. Hard to do.

They take place all over the world. America, London, Australia, Jamaica, Africa, yet they all knife us with a stark reality about the world around us, not necessarily a world we choose, but a world that increasingly and most recently, closes in around us.

These stories are different than what you’ve read lately, and for that reason alone (amongst many others) I encourage you to come by the shop and pick up a copy.

Shanthi Sekaran Lucky Boy
January 24, 2017 01:08 PM PST
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Shanthi Sekaran, author of Lucky Boy, published earlier this month by Putnam.

Shanthi teaches creative writing at California College of the Arts. And her work has appeared in best New American Voices and Canteen as well as online at Zyzzyva and Mutha Magazine and recently The New York Times. Her first novel was The Prayer Room.

Before we begin...

Lucky Boy is a novel about a sweet little boy, Ignacio El Viento Castro Valdez, Iggy, Nacho, whose little life is made extremely complicated by the fact that two “forces” love him dearly.

The book details the relationship of Kavka and Rishi Reddy, Ignacio’s foster parents and Soli, Solimar Castro Valdez, Iggy’s natural mother who spends her brief time in America trying desperately to hold on to him and then to rejoin him.

The book, in a non-judgmental fashion deals with the issues associated with immigration, documentation, motherhood, fosterparenthood and the overarching needs and rights of a child.

The reader is asked, early on, to go to work, to try to determine for him or herself who is right, what is best and to make a decision as to what comes down as the proper conclusion to the story.

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