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Ben Marcus Notes From The Fog
August 15, 2018 01:26 PM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Ben Marcus, author of Notes From The Fog, his collection of short stories published August 27th by Knopf.

When last we heard from Ben we were talking about his novel The Flame Alphabet, a book that in some ways, in my opinion, shares many of the characteristics as do some of these stories.

As you may recall, Ben is the author of several books. As I mentioned The Flame Alphabet, The Age of Wire and String, Leaving The Sea and Notable American Women. His writing has appeared in Harpers, The New Yorker, the NYT and many other prestigious publications. He is the editor of New American Stories. He’a won three Pushcart Prizes. He’s a Guggenheim Fellow and has been a member of the Faculty of Columbia since 2000. Ok, that’s enough I guess.
Notes from the Fog is a collection of stories about lots of people, all interesting and most of them sad or lost.

A little boy who isn’t what he is supposed to be. And parents who are sad and angry that he turns into a child that they never expected .

A man whose life is completely and utterly ruined by a corporate experiment grow horribly wrong. A lot of money involved. In fact a lot of money involved in many of the stories.

A husband and wife architectural team whose marriage is not what it should be and whose designs reflect that to a certain extent. And also from where the title of this collection arises.

A mother who then becomes the mother of her sister’s orphaned boys and in the meantime establishes an unusual relationship with those boys’ parents, revolving around a series of 200 dollar payments.

A pill that will make you happy or not, but that just won’t stay down.

And many others with equally troubling, sometimes distressing premises that lead to a feeling that you’ve just read something that might change your life or then again might not.

1Q1A Ben Marcus Notes From The Fog
August 15, 2018 01:23 PM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Ben Marcus, author of Notes From The Fog, his collection of short stories published August 27th by Knopf.

When last we heard from Ben we were talking about his novel The Flame Alphabet, a book that in some ways, in my opinion, shares many of the characteristics as do some of these stories.

As you may recall, Ben is the author of several books. As I mentioned The Flame Alphabet, The Age of Wire and String, Leaving The Sea and Notable American Women. His writing has appeared in Harpers, The New Yorker, the NYT and many other prestigious publications. He is the editor of New American Stories. He’a won three Pushcart Prizes. He’s a Guggenheim Fellow and has been a member of the Faculty of Columbia since 2000. Ok, that’s enough I guess.
Notes from the Fog is a collection of stories about lots of people, all interesting and most of them sad or lost.

A little boy who isn’t what he is supposed to be. And parents who are sad and angry that he turns into a child that they never expected .

A man whose life is completely and utterly ruined by a corporate experiment grow horribly wrong. A lot of money involved. In fact a lot of money involved in many of the stories.

A husband and wife architectural team whose marriage is not what it should be and whose designs reflect that to a certain extent. And also from where the title of this collection arises.

A mother who then becomes the mother of her sister’s orphaned boys and in the meantime establishes an unusual relationship with those boys’ parents, revolving around a series of 200 dollar payments.

A pill that will make you happy or not, but that just won’t stay down.

And many others with equally troubling, sometimes distressing premises that lead to a feeling that you’ve just read something that might change your life or then again might not.

Burning Planet Andrew Scott
July 30, 2018 03:15 PM PDT
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Dr. Scott is the Emeritus Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth Science at Royal Holloway University in London. He has been a professor at Yale, a Fellow at Berkeley. He holds numerous degrees from the University of London.

He is the author or editor of 10 academic books.

His research on coal and the geological history of fire has been recognized the word over.

The History Of Fire relies on growing evidence for fire in our past record. We have a history of fire that has been with us over the past 400,000,000 years. Amazingly, this history allows us to extract information about our past climate, environment and vegetation from fossil charcoal.

Dr. Scott tackles, with accessibility to the reader, the impact of wild-fire and its origin and the ways we can tackle it if necessary, because he also posits that wildfires in many cases are actually good for the planet and for us.

1Q1A Burning Planet Andrew Scott
July 30, 2018 03:13 PM PDT
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Dr. Scott is the Emeritus Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth Science at Royal Holloway University in London. He has been a professor at Yale, a Fellow at Berkeley. He holds numerous degrees from the University of London.

He is the author or editor of 10 academic books.

His research on coal and the geological history of fire has been recognized the word over.

The History Of Fire relies on growing evidence for fire in our past record. We have a history of fire that has been with us over the past 400,000,000 years. Amazingly, this history allows us to extract information about our past climate, environment and vegetation from fossil charcoal.

Dr. Scott tackles, with accessibility to the reader, the impact of wild-fire and its origin and the ways we can tackle it if necessary, because he also posits that wildfires in many cases are actually good for the planet and for us.

1Q1A Dopesick Beth Macy
July 17, 2018 09:12 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Beth Macy author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, And The Drug Company That Addicted America. published this month by Little, Brown and Company.

Beth is a journalist who writes about outsiders and underdogs. Her writing has won more than a dozen national journalism awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard and the 2013 J. Anthony Lukas Word-in-Progress award for "Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local -- and Helped Save an American Town”. She is also the author of another fascinating book, Truvine.

Dopesick is the story of one drug, oxycodone and how it has, and is, destroying a good part of America. And how one company managed to make this happen. Oxycodone is a powerful drug, administered for pain but abused by thousands, if not millions. It is also truly a gateway drug, leading to the abuse of other high-powered pharmaceuticals, heroin and now drugs like fentanyl.

As it works its way along the I-81 corridor and now further and further out, it destroys lives, families, homes, marriages and takes lives indiscriminately.

Greed, fed by unemployment and despair, combined to create a cocktail that takes down entire families, especially those who are already under stress from the loss of jobs, funds and hope.

It is a juggernaut whose spread may not be yet controlled with the tools at hand.

Beth chronicles the rise of this drug, its dissemination, the heroes that have tried to curtail its use and production and those who have fallen prey to its deadly lure.

Dopesick Beth Macy
July 17, 2018 09:05 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Beth Macy author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, And The Drug Company That Addicted America. published this month by Little, Brown and Company.

Beth is a journalist who writes about outsiders and underdogs. Her writing has won more than a dozen national journalism awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard and the 2013 J. Anthony Lukas Word-in-Progress award for "Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local -- and Helped Save an American Town”. She is also the author of another fascinating book, Truvine.

Dopesick is the story of one drug, oxycodone and how it has, and is, destroying a good part of America. And how one company managed to make this happen. Oxycodone is a powerful drug, administered for pain but abused by thousands, if not millions. It is also truly a gateway drug, leading to the abuse of other high-powered pharmaceuticals, heroin and now drugs like fentanyl.

As it works its way along the I-81 corridor and now further and further out, it destroys lives, families, homes, marriages and takes lives indiscriminately.

Greed, fed by unemployment and despair, combined to create a cocktail that takes down entire families, especially those who are already under stress from the loss of jobs, funds and hope.

It is a juggernaut whose spread may not be yet controlled with the tools at hand.

Beth chronicles the rise of this drug, its dissemination, the heroes that have tried to curtail its use and production and those who have fallen prey to its deadly lure.

The Great Believers Rebecca Makkai
July 17, 2018 09:00 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers, published in June by Viking.

Rebecca’s books have been translated into many languages and her short fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories in 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008. Which is actually quite a big deal. He first novel was The Borrower, an Indie Next pick, her second novel was The Hundred-Year House and I remember the great review of it in the NYT. Her short story collection Music for Wartime was published in 2015.

The Great Believers is a book that intertwines two stories. One that took place in the mid 80s and the other in 2015.

The first is about AIDS, the second is about the loss of a child, redemption and the forces of memory and love that shape our lives, our entire lives no matter how long ago the love or memory was.

There are a lot of characters but they are easily recognizable throughout and we have an acquaintance or friendship with them by stories’ end.

Yale Tishman is about to achieve an unexpected and really cool goal but as it approaches, his life and the lives of so many others are devastated by the AIDS crisis in Chicago in the mid-eighties. Yale’s partner Charlie, his friend Nico and many others of the boystown group succumb to the disease or its effects (both in terms of the illness and the way it changes the lives of so many).

Fiona, in 1985 is kind of the den mother in many ways to these boys, these young men. And that obligation creates a great responsibility for her, one that figures in the rest of her life as well as in her daughter’s— Claire.

As we swing forward and back in time we mourn those who have been lost and hope for the ones who remain, especially when they try their hardest to amend or atone for what may have been mistakes or abandonment.

Meghan Weir The Book of Essie
July 02, 2018 07:23 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Meghan MacLean Weir, author of The Book of Essie published just last month by Knopf. Meghan’s memoir Between Expectations: Lessons From A Pediatric Residency chronicles her years in training at Boston Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital. She still works as a physician and continues to write as well. The Book Of Essie is her first novel.

Essie is a teenager whose entire life has been documented daily by cameras which record most of her life. Her Father and Mother as well as her five siblings are the stars of a reality show, not unlike the reality shows that are pervasive on our televisions today.

Six For Hicks documents the lives of a seemingly, shiny wholesome family, centered around the Father’s gigantic ministry and his flock and the corollary activities of her ruthless and calculating Mother.

But all of a sudden, a complication. Essie is pregnant, and by whom? The production team suggests an abortion, which would otherwise be anathema to the ministry and all it stands for, or a pregnancy hidden away and then the baby disposed of to another family. Both options are risky. They could be found out.

So marriage is the option they choose. Essie who has a plan in mind, choose Roarke Richards, a senior at her high school, a boy who wants out of his situation as much as Essie does. Once the wedding is planned, Essie enlists reporter Liberty Bell, who has her own issues.

Then the fun really begins. Told in the first person in alternating paragraphs by the three protagonists, we follow along breathless as we weave through this mixture of the Duggars, The Truman Show and The Hunger Games.

It’s a great adventure and a kind of morality play given the political and social situation in which we find ourselves in today’s America.

1Q1A Meghan Weir The Book of Essie
July 02, 2018 07:20 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Meghan MacLean Weir, author of The Book of Essie published just last month by Knopf. Meghan’s memoir Between Expectations: Lessons From A Pediatric Residency chronicles her years in training at Boston Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital. She still works as a physician and continues to write as well. The Book Of Essie is her first novel.

Essie is a teenager whose entire life has been documented daily by cameras which record most of her life. Her Father and Mother as well as her five siblings are the stars of a reality show, not unlike the reality shows that are pervasive on our televisions today.

Six For Hicks documents the lives of a seemingly, shiny wholesome family, centered around the Father’s gigantic ministry and his flock and the corollary activities of her ruthless and calculating Mother.

But all of a sudden, a complication. Essie is pregnant, and by whom? The production team suggests an abortion, which would otherwise be anathema to the ministry and all it stands for, or a pregnancy hidden away and then the baby disposed of to another family. Both options are risky. They could be found out.

So marriage is the option they choose. Essie who has a plan in mind, choose Roarke Richards, a senior at her high school, a boy who wants out of his situation as much as Essie does. Once the wedding is planned, Essie enlists reporter Liberty Bell, who has her own issues.

Then the fun really begins. Told in the first person in alternating paragraphs by the three protagonists, we follow along breathless as we weave through this mixture of the Duggars, The Truman Show and The Hunger Games.

It’s a great adventure and a kind of morality play given the political and social situation in which we find ourselves in today’s America.

Zachary Wood Uncensored
July 02, 2018 07:17 AM PDT
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Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Zachary Wood, author of Uncensored: My Life And Uncomfortable Conversations At The Intersection of Black And White, released just least month by Dutton.

Zachary’s primary goal in this book, in addition to telling us his life story in memoir form, is to encourage uncomfortable conversations. He graduated from (just this year) Williams College where he served as President of Uncomfortable Learning, a student group that has from time to time created nation controversies for inviting provocative speakers to campus from John Derbyshire to Charles Murray.

Zachary has defended this conversations and the upshot from them to the point where he offered Senate testimony this past Summer.

His writings, as young as he is, have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post and many others.

He is an assistant editor at The Atlantic and a Robert. L. Bartley Fellow at the WSJ.

Zach’s path is a convoluted one in which uncomfortable conversations have been a hallmark. Both in his family and now academically.

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