New WKAR Book Review: Kurt Vonnegut’s Novels 1976-1985

Current StateI got to do something really fun today on WKAR’s Current State. Well, fun for me. I got to talk about one of my all time favorite writers!

The Library of America has been re-issuing Kurt Vonnegut’s library and in this installment I am talking about the new Volume 3, Novels 1976-1985.  You can listen to my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-kurt-vonnegut-novels-1976-1985

You can also read my review below.

If you want to pick up this book, you can find it on amazon.com here. If you would be interested in hearing/reading more of my NPR book reviews, you can do so via links on this page.

I hope you enjoy my thoughts on one of the literary legends. Continue reading

Advertisements

The Five Books That Made Me

CompassOur lives are filled with landmarks. And just like the sites that dot our landscape, these moments dot our lives, creating the definition of who we are. For me, I can see them like a map spread out in front of me from movies to TV shows to experiences to relationships to plays to books… oh… a lot of books.

I was the kid who would come home with a pile of library books each weekend, who later would take his bike out to only ride to libraries, having three in my vicinity to choose from with a separate card for each. If I could have had a collection of cards with aliases I would have done it. See, I would lose summer days just wandering through the aisles like visiting old friends, allowing my fingers to grace along the covers as I walked past, secretly hoping that a book would reach out and grab me.

I always get a little sentimental when a book is released (A Jane Austen Daydream). I can’t help it. This is a new kind of landmark; I’m adding to my own landscape now. And if I am lucky my work might find its way on to another’s map. See, that is the thing for me. It’s not about money, it never was.  It was always about the love of a good yarn, with surprises and new adventures.

When I look back at my life there are five books that stand out the most in inspiring me.  This is not to say they are my favorites, or what I consider the greatest works; no, not at all.

They are just the ones that grabbed me just when I needed them to. Continue reading

Missing My Vonnegut Moment

Listen:

There is a piece of family mythology that I might have made up.

My grandmother was friends with Kurt Vonnegut’s first wife’s college roommate. I know that is not much, but here me out; there is a chance that my favorite writer (the genius behind Slaughterhouse-Five and others works of literary greatness) might have been aware of my family.

Why is this important? Well, in 1999, Kurt Vonnegut released a book of his uncollected short stories (Bagombo Snuff Box). Many of these stories were uncollected for a good reason; being the product of a struggling writer just looking for a sale in the booming short story market of the 1950s. Yet, there is one story in it of particular importance to me.

It is called “The Runaways” and it stars a family named the Southards.

Now, I know there are other Southards out there in the world. Heck, I’ve even found other writers out there with the same name as me (first and last), but with that slight connection, who is to say he might not have remembered meeting my grandmother by chance at that dorm room before a date (and my grandmother was quite the looker then) or had seen her referenced in a letter? Whatever the case, before anyone else does, I am staking my claim:

The great Kurt Vonnegut was inspired to use the name Southard in that story because of my grandmother.

There I typed it, and because it is the internet (and there are no falsehoods on the internet) and Vonnegut is no longer around to argue about it, it must be true.

So it goes. Continue reading

10 Works I Wish I Had Written

Sometimes I feel like December and January are the times all entertainment Web sites and writers set aside for creating lists.  We drown in them; from movies, to books, to important people, etc.  Lists after lists after lists.

Don’t worry, this is not one of those lists.  This is something a little more personal.

I’ve been, since starting this blog, trying to rethink my writing and my goals, and one thing I am trying to latch on to is what stimulates me, what means something to me.  What do I want to accomplish in my own writing?

This list is of ten creations that, at one time or another, touched me as a storyteller.  There is no particular order, no best to worst.

Are these choices the best in their mediums? No, not all of them. Are these things that I could have written? A few, I think with the initial spark I could have devised in a way. Are these works that inspire me? Most definitely. Continue reading