American Literature

We speak today by phone with author Sara Farizan, who is the daughter of Iranian immigrants, lives near Boston, and has just published her first novel. It's a YA novel that's been getting great reviews, and it's called "If You Could Be Mine." This book tells the story of two girls, Sahar and Nasrin, lifelong friends who live in the great Iranian city known as Tehran, and who also happen to be in love with one another. It is, as a critic for School Library Journal has written, a "terrific debut novel....

On this edition of ST, we speak with Susan Kates, an associate professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of Oklahoma, who tells us about her new book, an autobiographical collection of essays called "Red Dirt Women: At Home on the Oklahoma Plains." Born and raised in Ohio, Kates now considers herself an Oklahoman --- she's been teaching at OU for the past two decades or so --- and this book quite deliberately traces her development from immigrant to native.

(Note: This program originally aired earlier this year.) Food, glorious food --- it's more, of course, than what we eat. Food is memory, family, love, culture, and community.

On this edition of our show, we're pleased to welcome back Prof. Robert Spoo, the Chapman Distinguished Chair at The University of Tulsa College of Law. Prof.

The brilliant Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), the great American critic, fiction writer, poet, and satirist --- that famously witty (and frequently scathing) author whose many memorable assertions include "I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true" and "if all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised" --- is now back in business. That is, she's cracking wise all over again, in a manner of speaking, in a new book.

Our guest is the celebrated American author, Philip Caputo, who was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in Chicago before going on to write several notable works of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, including 1977's "A Rumor of War," one of the most highly praised and widely read volumes ever published on the Vietnam War.

Our guest is the writer Kate Christensen, whose six novels include "The Great Man," which won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award. Her reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Elle, and elsewhere --- and her popular blog can be accessed here. Her latest book is "Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites," an acclaimed memoir, which she discusses with us on today's ST.

On this installment of ST, we welcome back Nancy Pearl, our longtime book reviewer. Well-known for her work as a librarian, bestselling author, and literary critic, Nancy began her career as a bookseller and librarian here in T-Town; she can still be heard recommending books every now and again on NPR's Morning Edition. She was, until August 2004, the Executive Director of the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library --- and was also the founder of the pioneering and widely imitated "If All Seattle Read The Same Book" program.

"Watergate: A Novel" (Encore presentation.)

Jul 8, 2013

(Please note: This program originally aired earlier this year.) On this installment of our show, we speak by phone with the writer, critic, and journalist Thomas Mallon, whose critically acclaimed novels include "Henry and Clara" and "Dewey Defeats Truman." Mallon frequently writes for The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, and The Atlantic, and his newest novel, now out in paperback, is "Watergate." Hailed as "wildly entertaining from beginning to end" (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and "a brilliant presentation, subtle and sympathetic but spiked with satire" (The Washington Post), th

Nimrod International Journal, founded in 1956 here at TU, is a well-respected, twice-a-year literary publication that's been dedicated to printing work by writers both emerging and established for more than half a century. Our guest is Francine Ringold, editor-in-chief of Nimrod, who describes the latest issue, which is just out now. This issue's theme is "Lasting Matters: Writers 57 and Over" --- and as Fran adds, there will be a special, free-to-the-public reading from this issue tonight (Thursday the 27th) at 7:30pm in the Meinig Recital Hall at TU's Lorton Performing Arts Center.

On this edition of ST, we speak with the widely celebrated young writer Nathaniel Rich (born 1980), whose essays and short stories have appeared in Harper's, McSweeney's, and elsewhere, and whose latest novel is called "Odds Against Tomorrow." Late last week, Rich did a Book Smart Tulsa reading and signing in connection with this book; while he was here in town, we spoke with him. Set in a New York City of the very near future, the novel tells the story of one Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician who works for a financial consulting firm called FutureWorld.

On this installment of ST, a discussion of both the art and craft of making books. Our guest is Jody Williams, a Minneapolis-based book artist, printmaker, teacher, and writer. The (mostly miniature-sized) books that she creates as individual works of art appear under the name Flying Paper Press; books created by Williams have appeared in exhibits all over the country, and some are included in a group show currently on view at the Philbrook Museum of Art (through July 21st) called About Bookworks III.

Sure, you loved "The Catcher in the Rye" at the age of 16...but would you still love it? You appreciated "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Cannery Row" way back when, but would that still be the case today? And on the other hand, if the plays of Ibsen or Shakespeare didn't exactly knock you out during that long-ago sophomore year of college, do you think they'd still miss the mark? Or might they be worth another shot?

Food, glorious food --- it's so much more, of course, than what we eat. Food is memory, food is family, food is love, food is culture, and food is community.

On this installment of ST, we're joined by our old friend and colleague, Jeff Martin, a local writer who's also the coordinator and creator of the popular Book Smart Tulsa reading series, the fiction editor at This Land, and an occasional commentator for this program. Jeff's newest book, just out, is an fun-to-read trade-paperback collection that brings together many works of short (make that "very short") fiction exploring "an Oklahoma of the mind," so to speak.

Robert Ward, the highly acclaimed American composer, died today at age 95. Ward won the Pulitzer Prize for his opera "The Crucible" --- based on the classic Arthur Miller play, with a libretto adapted by Bernard Stambler --- which was commissioned by the New York City Opera and had its premiere in 1961.

On this installment of our show, we speak by phone with the writer, critic, and journalist Thomas Mallon, whose critically acclaimed novels include "Henry and Clara" and "Dewey Defeats Truman." Mallon frequently writes for The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, and The Atlantic, and his newest novel, just out in paperback, is "Watergate." Hailed as "wildly entertaining from beginning to end" (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and "a brilliant presentation, subtle and sympathetic but spiked with satire" (The Washington Post), this novel was named a New York Times Notable Book as well as a S

Today on ST we speak by phone with Benjamin Lytal, who grew up in Tulsa and now resides in Chicago, and who has written for The Wall Street Journal, The London Review of Books, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Sun, The Believer, McSweeney's, and other publications. Lytal's first novel, "A Map of Tulsa," has just been published, and he'll be doing a free reading/signing in connection with this book tonight (Tuesday the 26th) at the Harwelden Mansion here in Tulsa at 7pm.

"Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch" (Encore presentation.)

Mar 25, 2013

(Please note: This program originally aired last year.) On this installment of our show, better living through savvy verb deployment. Our guest is Constance Hale, the bestselling author of "Sin and Syntax" and other books on language, writing, and word choice. A veteran journalist and teacher, Hale has a new book out called "Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing." It's a work in four chapters, each as informative as it is entertaining, and it's that rare example of a "how to" book on English usage that's genuinely accessible from start to finish.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), the great American critic, fiction writer, poet, and satirist --- that famously witty (and frequently scathing) scribe whose many brilliant assertions include "I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true" and "if all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised" --- is now back in business. That is, she's cracking wise all over again, in a manner of speaking, in a new book.

Our two guests on this edition of ST are Michael Wright and Steven Marzolf. Both are directing plays currently being presented in repertory by the TU Department of Theatre and Musical Theatre; Wright is directing Neil Simon's classic comedy/drama, "Biloxi Blues," which opens tonight, and Marzolf is directing John Murrell's "Waiting for the Parade," which opened last night. Both plays concern the Second World War, yet they differ in some interesting ways --- for example, Simon's play is essentially an all-male saga about coming of age amid the struggles of basic training in the U.S.

We are happy to welcome the acclaimed author (and fifth-generation Oklahoman) Rilla Askew back to our show. Askew received a 2009 Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and she is a three-time recipient of the Oklahoma Book Award. Her latest novel, "Kind of Kin," is just now being published, and she joins us on ST to chat about this work.

"Running the Rift: A Novel"

Jan 4, 2013

On this edition of ST, we speak by phone with Naomi Benaron about her debut novel, "Running the Rift," which appeared in soft-cover back in October, and which was awarded the Bellwether Prize in 2010 (which is given biennially to an unpublished novel that confronts social issues). "Running the Rift" is set in Rwanda; it begins in 1994 and runs, as a narrative, through 1998. Thus it takes place in a country that knew horrific genocide in a devastatingly hellish conflict that pitted neighbor against neighbor.

The Best of ST in 2012: Joy Harjo

Jan 2, 2013

Happy New Year, folks. On this "best of" edition of our show, we're listening back to an engaging chat from October, when we spoke with the noted poet, musician, and storyteller Joy Harjo.

Nancy Pearl's Gift-Giving Book Suggestions

Dec 18, 2012

On this installment of ST, we are discussing great reads for the gift-givng season --- for yourself and/or the avid reader(s) on your holiday shopping list. We check in with Nancy Pearl, a former librarian and bookseller here in Tulsa who's now based in Seattle, and who's well-known for her book-promoting appearances on NPR's Morning Edition as well as her popular series of "Book Lust" volumes (which recommend all sorts of books for a range of different readers).

On this edition of our program, we speak with Wendell Berry, who's worked as a prolific and highly principled writer of fiction, essays, and poetry for the past 50 years. Mr. Berry has been named the Tulsa Library Trust's 2012 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author, and he'll be in town to accept this honor later this week. Indeed, he'll give a free-to-the-public presentation at 10:30am on Saturday the 8th at the TCCL's Central Library, at Fourth Street and Denver Avenue in Downtown Tulsa.

"Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore"

Nov 28, 2012

On this edition of our show, we speak with the Bay Area-based writer Robin Sloan, whose smart, tech-savvy, entertaining, and decidedly adventure-driven debut novel, "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore," has been drawing some rave reviews. As critic Janet Maslin has noted in The New York Times, this book is a "slyly arch novel about technology and its discontents.... The culture clash at work here --- Google aces wielding the full, computer-assisted strength of their collective brainpower, one scholar fiddling with a quaint astrolabe --- has a topicality that works to this novel's advantage.

On this installment of our show, better living through savvy verb deployment. Our guest is Constance Hale, the bestselling author of "Sin and Syntax" and other books on language, writing, and word choice. A veteran journalist and teacher, Hale has a new book out called "Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing." It's a work in four chapters, each as informative as it is entertaining, and it's that rare example of a "how to" book on English usage that's genuinely accessible from start to finish.

On this installment of ST, we're pleased to welcome Joy Harjo, the prolific and widely acclaimed poet, musician, and author. Harjo is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She's won a great many awards and accolades for her writing over the years, and has recorded five CDs thus far in her thriving musical career.

Today we speak by phone with Kurt Anderson, the widely acclaimed writer whose novels include "Heyday" and "Turn of the Century," among other books. Andersen writes for television, film, and the stage, contributes to Vanity Fair, and hosts the PRI program Studio 360 (which is heard every Thursday at 8pm on Public Radio 89.5-1 KWGS).

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