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Mark Helprin Paris In The Present Tense
October 05, 2017 09:05 AM PDT
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Mark Helprin is a man without a genre. He belongs to no literary school or movement. His books are not adventure stories or mysteries or thrillers or science fiction or fantasy or magical realism, yet elements of each of those can be found between the pages of his many novels.

Which include A Dove of the East & Other Stories, Refiners Fire, Winters Tale (a classic), A Soldier of the Great War and the marvelous trilogy Swan Lake, A City in Winter and the Veil of Snows, collected in one beautiful volume A Kingdom Far and Clear and many others.

He has been published in The New Yorker for a quarter of a century, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The National Review among many other journals and periodicals.

His honors and awards are to numerous to mention during this interview.

Paris in the Present Tense. Once again, as in Winter’s Tale, In Sunlight and in Shadow, A Kingdom Far and Clear Mark has written a book in which the city is as much a protagonist as any other character.

Jules Lacour is a Frenchman, a cellist, a holocaust survivor and a man who agonizes over the loss of his wife Jacqueline. In fact he agonizes over the deaths of almost every deceased friend or acquaintance he has encountered. The book is framed by an epigraph which states this as a kind of credo.

Jules wants to die and he wants to die for a couple of reasons. One is because of the loss of his wife, the other is part of a scheme, a scheme that at times is both poignant and downright funny. I mean laugh out loud funny. Another thing that is funny is Jules meeting with his one-time psychiatrist. (At least I think it is one time)

Jules, in his mid-seventies is in terrific physical shape. He runs, he rows in the Seine. He attracts younger women and falls in love regularly. Like many of us do.

One such paramour is Elodi, 50 years Jules’ junior and a student, Jules’ student, of the cello.

Another story line involves two semi-bumbling detectives who afford some more comedy.

The novel celebrates Paris in The Present Tense and we’re all the better for it.

Welcome Mark and thanks for joining us today.

1Q1a Mark Helprin Paris in The Present Tense
October 05, 2017 09:03 AM PDT
itunes pic

Mark Helprin is a man without a genre. He belongs to no literary school or movement. His books are not adventure stories or mysteries or thrillers or science fiction or fantasy or magical realism, yet elements of each of those can be found between the pages of his many novels.

Which include A Dove of the East & Other Stories, Refiners Fire, Winters Tale (a classic), A Soldier of the Great War and the marvelous trilogy Swan Lake, A City in Winter and the Veil of Snows, collected in one beautiful volume A Kingdom Far and Clear and many others.

He has been published in The New Yorker for a quarter of a century, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The National Review among many other journals and periodicals.

His honors and awards are to numerous to mention during this interview.

Paris in the Present Tense. Once again, as in Winter’s Tale, In Sunlight and in Shadow, A Kingdom Far and Clear Mark has written a book in which the city is as much a protagonist as any other character.

Jules Lacour is a Frenchman, a cellist, a holocaust survivor and a man who agonizes over the loss of his wife Jacqueline. In fact he agonizes over the deaths of almost every deceased friend or acquaintance he has encountered. The book is framed by an epigraph which states this as a kind of credo.

Jules wants to die and he wants to die for a couple of reasons. One is because of the loss of his wife, the other is part of a scheme, a scheme that at times is both poignant and downright funny. I mean laugh out loud funny. Another thing that is funny is Jules meeting with his one-time psychiatrist. (At least I think it is one time)

Jules, in his mid-seventies is in terrific physical shape. He runs, he rows in the Seine. He attracts younger women and falls in love regularly. Like many of us do.

One such paramour is Elodi, 50 years Jules’ junior and a student, Jules’ student, of the cello.

Another story line involves two semi-bumbling detectives who afford some more comedy.

The novel celebrates Paris in The Present Tense and we’re all the better for it.

Welcome Mark and thanks for joining us today.

1Q1A Autonomous Annalee Newitz
September 12, 2017 07:23 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Annalee Newitz author of her first novel Autonomous published September 19th by Tor (tomorrow). Annalee’s career started 15 years back in San Francisco at the Guardian. Later she worked at Wired and then founded the super cool io9 at Gawker. She edited io9 for 7 years then became the editor in chief at Gizmodo. Since last year she has been an editor at Ars Technica. She’s ben published in the New Yorker, The Washington Post The Times The Atlantic and many other publications.

She also writes about movies, TV and books in the sci-fi fantasy genre. Which ties in nicely wit this her first venture into novel writing with Autonomous.

Autonomous is about free will, love, corporate greed and deceit and loyalty. It follows the path of Jack (Judith) Chen, a modern day pirate who reverse engineers drugs and supplies them to the market in spite of the inherent but ill-gotten rights of major drug companies with semi-familiar names.

Hot on Jack’s trail are two corporate cops, one human and one robotic, Eliasz (Elias) and Palladin. Who have their own unusual and unique relationship with each other.

Jack seeks help along the way and finds it from some likely and unlikely sources.

But the high concept that runs through the book is this concept of autonomy and what it means. And we can talk about that a little today.

Autonomous Annalee Newitz
September 12, 2017 07:21 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Annalee Newitz author of her first novel Autonomous published September 19th by Tor (tomorrow). Annalee’s career started 15 years back in San Francisco at the Guardian. Later she worked at Wired and then founded the super cool io9 at Gawker. She edited io9 for 7 years then became the editor in chief at Gizmodo. Since last year she has been an editor at Ars Technica. She’s ben published in the New Yorker, The Washington Post The Times The Atlantic and many other publications.

She also writes about movies, TV and books in the sci-fi fantasy genre. Which ties in nicely wit this her first venture into novel writing with Autonomous.

Autonomous is about free will, love, corporate greed and deceit and loyalty. It follows the path of Jack (Judith) Chen, a modern day pirate who reverse engineers drugs and supplies them to the market in spite of the inherent but ill-gotten rights of major drug companies with semi-familiar names.

Hot on Jack’s trail are two corporate cops, one human and one robotic, Eliasz (Elias) and Palladin. Who have their own unusual and unique relationship with each other.

Jack seeks help along the way and finds it from some likely and unlikely sources.

But the high concept that runs through the book is this concept of autonomy and what it means. And we can talk about that a little today.

My Absolute Darling Gabriel Tallent
September 12, 2017 07:17 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Gabriel Tallent, whose debut novel My Absolute Darling will be released tomorrow by Riverhead. Gabriel Received his BA from Williamette University. His stories have been published in Narrative and in the St. Petersburg Review. His thesis at Willamette was on the discursive construction of Pleasure in Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. But he also was a checker at Target, so that gives you a little bit of an idea of how this story could have emerged from his head.

My Absolute Darling plumbs the depths of moral depravity and soars to places where a girl’s reach exceeds her grasp and yet she is able to accomplish things that are impossible to imagine.

Julia (Turtle) is the 14 year old daughter of Martin. Martin is a very intelligent survivivalist with tons of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition and the ability and the desire to use them all. He is also dangerous and depraved but there is a certain part of us and this is a danger to the reader of the novel, a certain part of us that almost has the capability to comprehend his motives. It’s scary that we have the capability to do so. That is why this book has gotten so much buzz and is such a riveting read. Some reviews suggest that it is not for the faint of heart. Others say read the book with friends and then fight over it..

Trust me--as a book club selection, you will find yourself in fight club rather than the usual casual night out at the book store.

It’s not a book to make light of. It’s a book to ponder and one which makes you question your understanding of family relationships and how that can go so wrong and also ponder the strength of someone whose strength was obtained from the very man who is her sworn nemesis and father.

Poetry Will Change Your Life Jill Bialosky
September 11, 2017 03:39 PM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Jill Bialosky author of Poetry Will Save Your Life published this month by Atria. Jill is the author of four acclaimed collections of poetry most recently The Players. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic and Best American Poetry. She is also the author of three novels and a NYT best selling memoir, History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life. Jill is an executive editor at Norton and Company.

Poetry Will Change Your Life is a memoir of a life lived in stages and one which develops in great part because of Jill’s affinity with our greatest poets and their work. She has the ability to apply the lessons, the morals, the meanings of poems to her own backstory if you will and more importantly for us she then has the capability of showing us how we can do the same.

Each named chapter, having to do with Jill’s life, is then coupled with one, or two or sometimes several poems which underscore an experience, bring insight and clarity to a change in life or emphasize the importance of what has just happened to Jill.

All in all, some of your favorite poems--- whether Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, The Road Not Taken, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud or even the 23rd Psalm are given new meaning and nuance and help us to understand more about Jill but more importantly more about ourselves.

Q&A with Alex Gilvarry, author of "Eastman was Here"
September 05, 2017 01:54 PM PDT

Sam Hankin of the Avid Reader discussed "Eastman was Here" on the Avid Reader radio show. Alex will be appearing at the Wellington Square Bookshop for a reading, Q&A and signing on Monday, September 11th at 7:00pm.

A Mind At Play Soni-Goodman
August 07, 2017 10:49 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guests are Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman.

Jimmy has served as an editor at the New York Observer and the Washington Examiner and as managing editor of the Huffington Post. His work has appeared in Slate, the Atlantic and CNN.

Rob has written for Slate, the Atlantic and his scholarly works have appeared in History of Politcal Thought and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.

Together the two have co-authored work appearing in Politico, The Huffington Post and The Atlantic. Their first book, a biography of Cato the younger was titled Rome’s Last Citizen, The Life And Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy Of Caesar.

Today we will be talking with them about their latest collaboration A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented The Information Age.

Now the name of Claude Shannon (1916-2001) is not a well known one and is not the man that people generally think of when pondering how we got to--- where we are in our digital age.

But when Shannon was only 21, in a masters thesis he figured out that instead of using mechanical switches, a true computer would make use of electrical ones that would not only control the electrical flow of intelligence or information but would perhaps fake being a real human brain. This may seem like old stuff now but this was written back in 1937 or so, before almost anyone thought of the world in anything but analogies. The way that many of us still do our mental arithmetic or tell time. Here was someone ready to usher us into a digital age, an information age long before there were the tools or the minds able to grasp the concepts that he was propounding.

That alone would be a legacy to remember a man for. But Shannon went on to work during WW II as a cryptographer, meeting and becoming friends with Alan Turing. He did all kinds of other cool stuff including his lifelong interest in jazz, his fascination with juggling and his invention of the ultimate machine. The box we all know of that turns itself off after you turn it on.

Fortunately for us these two guys decided that this was a life worth looking at closely and have given us this biography of a genius, a code breaker, a mathematician and oddball of sorts and most importantly, the father of the age we now find ourselves smack dab in the middle of.

1Q1A A Mind at Play
August 07, 2017 10:47 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guests are Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman.

Jimmy has served as an editor at the New York Observer and the Washington Examiner and as managing editor of the Huffington Post. His work has appeared in Slate, the Atlantic and CNN.

Rob has written for Slate, the Atlantic and his scholarly works have appeared in History of Politcal Thought and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.

Together the two have co-authored work appearing in Politico, The Huffington Post and The Atlantic. Their first book, a biography of Cato the younger was titled Rome’s Last Citizen, The Life And Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy Of Caesar.

Today we will be talking with them about their latest collaboration A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented The Information Age.

Now the name of Claude Shannon (1916-2001) is not a well known one and is not the man that people generally think of when pondering how we got to--- where we are in our digital age.

But when Shannon was only 21, in a masters thesis he figured out that instead of using mechanical switches, a true computer would make use of electrical ones that would not only control the electrical flow of intelligence or information but would perhaps fake being a real human brain. This may seem like old stuff now but this was written back in 1937 or so, before almost anyone thought of the world in anything but analogies. The way that many of us still do our mental arithmetic or tell time. Here was someone ready to usher us into a digital age, an information age long before there were the tools or the minds able to grasp the concepts that he was propounding.

That alone would be a legacy to remember a man for. But Shannon went on to work during WW II as a cryptographer, meeting and becoming friends with Alan Turing. He did all kinds of other cool stuff including his lifelong interest in jazz, his fascination with juggling and his invention of the ultimate machine. The box we all know of that turns itself off after you turn it on.

Fortunately for us these two guys decided that this was a life worth looking at closely and have given us this biography of a genius, a code breaker, a mathematician and oddball of sorts and most importantly, the father of the age we now find ourselves smack dab in the middle of.

Alex Gilvarry Eastman Was Here
August 07, 2017 10:44 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today we are happy to have as our guest for the second time, Alex Gilvarry. Alex’s first book was From The Memoirs Of a Non-Enemy Combatant. Alex has been a Norman Mailer fellow and has taught at Wesleyan and Manhattanville College. His first book won numerous awards.

Eastman Was Here is the story of an author whose fading reputation, failing marriage and less than stellar character have led him to a crisis in his life. In his mid-fifties, Eastman is desperately searching for a way to jump-start his once vaunted career and save his marriage to Penny, a woman who he really seems to love.

But Eastman’s biggest obstacle to success on any of these fronts is Eastman himself. He is obnoxious, lazy, a liar, a cheat and a fairly miserable fellow. But we still like him or really want to like him.

In the end the book is about a man whose own worst enemy is he and the question asked is whether that is an insurmountable obstacle to a recovered life.

All in all a question I have ofttimes asked myself.

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