Think, a “topic-driven interview and call-in program hosted by Krys Boyd” from KERA (in Texas), covers many topics. But back on July 22, 2010 it broadcast an episode entitled The Lives Of Jack London. Here’s the official description:
He prospected for gold, hunted seals and wrote some of the most popular adventure novels of the early 20th Century. But what was Jack London really like? We’ll talk this hour with biographer, historian and novelist James L. Haley whose new book is “Wolf: The Lives Of Jack London” (Basic Books, 2010).
In many ways this is a surprising interview – well worth hearing. There are a few facts I’d never heard before and a few fascinating interpretations. The strangest part, at least for me though, were about London’s socialism and the lengths Hayley goes to apologize for it.
Talked about on today’s show:
Is The Comedy Is Finished going to be the last Donald E. Westlake novel to be published?, Memory (and our discussion of it), Charles Ardai, Max Allan Collins, Mickey Spillane, getting paid is a priority for professional writers, the 1970s, Honeydew, USO tours, Bob Hope, the audiobook experience, Peter Berkrot’s narration of the audiobook of The Comedy Is Finished, Koo Davis, Bob Hope as Red Skelton vs. Bob Hope as Gene Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ricky Gervais, Koo Davis narrates his own POV in the present everyday tense sense, “Westlake is the master of sentence by sentence writing”, “in the moment”, “the god-damned Vietnam thing”, “the real Americans”, the redemption, healing vs. moving on, Ronald Reagan, “new normal”, “the Carter malaise” and “festering wounds”, Larry, Peter, Mark has daddy issues, Joyce, the Dortmunder gang if they were all psychotic, “doing a Westlake”, why do Koo’s boys not look like him?, the role of a father, the mirror scene, “genetics don’t matter in fiction”, fatherhood as a choice, leave the messages to Western Union, character arcs, Lindsey, A Sound Of Distant Drums, radio drama, “there are round characters and there are flat characters”, “oh this is a Westlake”, “Charo has become a bitter old woman”, “a romantic writer”, succinct description, taking plots from real life, The Score, “he can heist anything”, The Mourner, The Stepfather, “that’s pretty much how these work”, three Dortmunder ideas, Kahawa should be an audiobook, California, Burbank, Santa Barbara, Elizabeth Taylor’s biography, Under An English Heaven should be an audiobook too, Anguilla, an option has been taken out on Kahawa, the new Parker movie, Stephen King’s filmography vs. Donald Westlake’s filmography, The Hot Rock, Cops And Robbers (1973), The Split (based on The Seventh), Payback, Les Alexander, The Outfit, City Of Industry, The Sour Lemon Score, Made In U.S.A., the Criterion Collection, it’s Clint Eastwood with internal monologue, a Dortmunder TV series, The Limey, Terence Stamp, Idi Amin, Uganda, “the coffee train”, Enough, Ordo, A Slight Case Of Murder, A Travesty, it’s very hard to be a Westlake expert, the sound a girl makes when you’re kissing her, “it’s just a weird name”, Bob Hope was a knight!, Conrad Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour, Westlake’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, Westlake’s renunciation of SF, Anarchaos by Curt Clark, “Rolf Malone is a precursor to Parker”, Theodore Bikel (the fiddler in The Fiddler On The Roof), The Risk Profession, Nackles (is great for kids!), The Twilight Zone, Harlan Ellison’s screenplay for Nackles, the Starship Hopeful series (available on DonaldWestlake.com), Lawrence Block’s fantasy story, SF is very allegorical (and that’s not Westlake), Humans, Westlake’s Smoke vs. Wells’ The Invisible Man, “and everybody’s an asshole”, “everybody one way or another is a jerkoff”, “Joyce goes crazy in the most wonderful way”, a survivor of Chernobyl, “is God really an asshole?”, “angels are assholes”, Milton’s Paradise Lost, The Sacred Monster, Get Real, ridicule in print, Money For Nothing, Westlake never lectured, interior thoughts that are so revealing about the shallowness of a character’s nature, Washington, D.C., “moving up the ladder”, “what does Ginger want?”, “it’s fun to play with fire”, “I’ve got to have something”, did Don hate rock and roll?, he liked classical and atonal jazz, “damn hippie”, 99% of politics is pointless, talking to death, Jimmy The Kid (a Parker novel inside of a Dortmunder novel), kidnapping, Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, Patty Hearst, Gangway, Brian Garfield, Spider Robinson’s Dortmunder homage, Lawrence Block, The Sour Lemon Score, Dashiell Hammett, Piers Anthony, Poul Anderson, Robert A. Heinlein, shiny spaceships, don’t read by genre, read by author, the genre label, Jim Thompson, The Grifters, Trent’s beef with Angelica Huston, a period piece, Paul had a problem with John Cusack, J.T. Walsh, Pat Hingle, Annette Bening, “I’ll never look at a bag of oranges the same way”, Donald Westlake: NYC Personified, The Violent World Of Parker website, Nick Jones, Westlake’s bibliography at DonaldWestlake.com.
Mentioned in H.P. Lovecraft’s The Crawling Chaos, and discussed in SFFaudio Podcast #138, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas de Quincey was first published in 1821.
Martin Geeson, the narrator, has written this intriguing mini essay about it for his LibriVox reading.
“Thou hast the keys of Paradise, O just, subtle, and mighty Opium!”
Though apparently presenting the reader with a collage of poignant memories, temporal digressions and random anecdotes, the Confessions is a work of immense sophistication and certainly one of the most impressive and influential of all autobiographies. The work is of great appeal to the contemporary reader, displaying a nervous (postmodern?) self-awareness, a spiralling obsession with the enigmas of its own composition and significance. De Quincey may be said to scrutinise his life, somewhat feverishly, in an effort to fix his own identity.
The title seems to promise a graphic exposure of horrors; these passages do not make up a large part of the whole. The circumstances of its hasty composition sets up the work as a lucrative piece of sensational journalism, albeit published in a more intellectually respectable organ – the London Magazine – than are today’s tawdry exercises in tabloid self-exposure. What makes the book technically remarkable is its use of a majestic neoclassical style applied to a very romantic species of confessional writing – self-reflexive but always reaching out to the Reader.
I’ve combined his narration with two different sets of illustrations and placed the resulting video on YouTube:
The Great Lives programme, now in it’s 26th series, is a half hour biography show that explores the lives of “the greatest people who ever lived.” Host Matthew Parris interviews an eminent guest who argues for the magnetism of his or her historical hero.
And guess who is was profiled just the other day?
Philip K. Dick!!
Here’s the official description:
Actor Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon; The Queen; Midnight In Paris) champions the life of Philip K. Dick and explains why he had such a big influence on his recent production of Hamlet.
Michael first discovered Philip K. Dick through the film Blade Runner, and moved onto his short stories which got him thinking about science-fiction in a new way. Whilst reading about philosophy, quantum physics, and comparative mythology, it struck him how Dick was intuitively weaving narratives around all the most interesting elements that these fields were throwing up.
He talks about Philip K. Dick’s innate interest in multiples realities, and how they overlap with Sheen’s own family experiences of mental health issues. In fact the more he found out about him, the more he was drawn to this enigmatic writer.
The description fails to mention that SF scholar Roger Luckhurst is also in on the conversation. |MP3|
“There Are Things I Want You to Know” about Stieg Larsson and Me
By Eva Gabrielsson and Marie-Françoise Colombani; Read by Cassandra Campbell
5 CDs – Approx. 5 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: June 21, 2011
Themes: / Biography / Sweden / Family /
There is only one person who can tell Stieg Larsson’s story better than he can, and that is his lifelong companion, Eva Gabrielsson. This is her book.
There is no doubt that writing this book was a blend of catharsis and revenge for Stieg Larsson’s life partner. For the listener it provides deep insights into the man, his habits and his motivations for writing his books. All that annoying coffee drinking in the books actually IS a reflection of Stieg’s own life habits and I now forgive him for the every detailed sip in the books.
I am also left wanting to read the other perspectives on Stieg’s life, in case Eva’s is not objective in her views. It “feels” as though she is truly telling the story of a man who truly brought his fight for justice and morality from his life to his fiction. (There are other biographies out there.) He blended facts and fiction – and for those of us listening from North America – provided a view of political troubles in our idealized Sweden. Eva adds another layer of Swedish conservatism with her difficulties as Stieg’s lifelong partner, having no children, her union went unrecognized by the state and Stieg’s assets were claimed by his almost estranged father and brother.
Of note to you, dear readers, is the fact that both Stieg and Eva were huge Science Fiction fans. If you haven’t dipped into the trilogy yet, Eva’s explanation of Salander’s (the main character) cyborg-like brain in a Pippi Longstocking body with superhuman strength may whet your appetite.
It is clear as Eva’s tale unfolds that she was intimately involved in the unfolding of Stieg’s trilogy. In a way they are her stories too – the books – their children in some odd way. This story may be the story of her custody battle for the rights to finish writing (raise to adulthood) Stieg’s final book, The Vengeance Of God. From listening to her tale and her writing style, I am positive that she will have no difficulty bringing the story to completion, should she be given the opportunity.
The reader, Cassandra Campbell, has been the narrator (or one of) in a host of books I have listened to and enjoyed (especially The Help). I was surprised that she pronounced the Swedish words and places perfectly adding immensely to my enjoyment of this audiobook.