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Sandra Tsing Loh at the LA Times Book Festival

The  comedian, writer and performer Sandra Tsing Loh speaks with Jenny Attiyeh at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books about If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home By Now, her first novel. It tells the story of a frustrated couple, Bronwyn and Paul, who live in a shabby Los Angeles suburb, far from the Hollywood glamor they secretly long for. Dissatisfied with the fraying Bohemian chic that they used to admire, they seek status and — I’ll let Sandra take up the tale.

This interview is the first of three that took place at the Fourth Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 1999. The other interviews, to follow, are with KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt, the host of Bookworm, and with Arianna Huffington.

Posted on October 29, 2014 in Front Page, Literature, Public Media
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New Writing Group Launched on Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill has it all, we like to think. Its own chiropractor, its own pharmacy, its own chocolate shop. And now, it even has its very own writers’ circle.
The brand new Beacon Hill Writing Group held its first-ever meeting this past Wednesday. Its goal is to provide a warm, welcoming environment that will motivate its members to write each week, and to share their work in a safe, non-critical setting.

Beacon Hill Writing Group
Beacon Hill Writing Group

So far, most members are from the neighborhood.
“I’ve lived on Beacon Hill for the past 14 years,” said Jenny Attiyeh, one of the group’s founding members. “I’m a journalist, and I’m happy as a journalist, but I’ve always wanted to be a writer with a capital W. So I thought, why not start a writers’ group? That way, I won’t be all on my own. I’ll have some support and encouragement as I try to do something that’s new and challenging.”
The camaraderie is key. Meetings are planned for Wednesday evenings at members’ homes, and will rotate among those who can accommodate the group.
“There are so many opportunities for writers today with digital media alongside traditional magazines, newspapers and hard copy books,” said Gigi Cockerill, a founding member.
Writing of any kind is an art form that requires practice and skill. Having relationships with other aspiring writers will be a real source of inspiration for me.”

— The Beacon Hill Times, February 18, 2014

Posted on February 18, 2014 in Literature, Poetry, Public Media
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Charles Simic’s the choice at San Francisco’s Dog Eared Books!

Note: This interview was broadcast on KUT-FM, an NPR station based in Austin, Texas.

Kate Rosenberger, owner
Kate Rosenberger, owner
Kate Rosenberger is one of those rare people who collects independent book stores in San Francisco the way the rest of us collect antique door stops, or unusual African masks. Her most recent acquisition is Alley Cat Books, but she also owns Phoenix and Red Hill Books, and we met at Dog Eared Books, her fourth store, in the Mission district.

Dog Eared Books
Dog Eared Books

When asked to discuss a piece of writing that’s had a profound impact on her, Kate chose Charles Simic‘s poem Gray-Headed Schoolchildren. Born in Serbia, Simic came to the US as a teenager, but went on to write his poems in English, win the Pulitzer prize, and become the U.S. Poet Laureate. His poetry is often stark, perhaps reflecting his formative years, spent surviving World War II.

Kate Rosenberger & customers
Kate Rosenberger & customers
Note: This interview is the sixth in a ThoughtCast series which examines a specific piece of writing — be it a poem, play, novel, short story, work of non-fiction or scrap of papyrus — that’s had a significant influence on the interviewee, that’s shaped and moved them. Prior interviewees include author Tom Perrotta, poetry critic Helen Vendler, and other independent bookstore owners – from Ireland!

Click here to listen (11 minutes.)

Posted on December 16, 2012 in Literature, Poetry
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Rediscovering James Joyce in Dublin with editor Maurice Earls

Note: This interview was broadcast on KUT-FM, an NPR station based in Austin,Texas.

James Joyce
James Joyce, 1915
James Joyce was born and raised in Dublin, and it was from Dublin he fled as a young man, to Trieste, in order to write Ulysses, perhaps the key novel of the early 20th century.
But before he left, he began to write A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which, as most of us will remember, is a rite of passage not only for its main character, the sensitive, acute Stephen Dedalus (the alter ego for Joyce himself), but also for the impressed and impressionable reader.
When I asked the scholar, bookseller and editor Maurice Earls to pick a piece of writing to discuss that’s had a tremendous impact on him, it was this novel that he chose.

Books Upstairs
Books Upstairs, Dublin

Himself a Dubliner, Earls is joint editor of the Dublin Review of Books. Of special interest to ThoughtCast listeners, he’s also penned an essay on Helen Vendler’s Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries.
Just hours before an author event was to take place in his small, singular independent bookstore Books Upstairs, ThoughtCast spoke with Earls about “A Portrait” at length. The conversation brought me back to my own strong feelings about this book, which had a tremendous impact on me as well, many years ago.

Click here (24 minutes) to listen!

Posted on April 23, 2012 in Literature
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Louis Menand, John Summers and Dan Aaron take on Dwight MacDonald

Louis Menand
Louis Menand
Back in the day when Dwight MacDonald was a household name (on the Upper West Side, at least) his critique of “middlebrow” American culture, and its inflated self-regard, singed eyebrows. Today, do his arguments still sting? After listening to three academics discuss MacDonald’s Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain, recently released by New York Review Books Classics, the audience at the Harvard Book Store might say ‘yes’. But then they might not agree on what exactly MacDonald’s message is.
The conversation, with New Yorker staff writer and Harvard literature professor Louis Menand, the author and Baffler magazine editor John Summers, and the longtime scholar and critic Daniel Aaron, lasts 30 minutes.

Click here: to listen, and judge for yourself!

Posted on October 24, 2011 in Harvard Luminaries, Literature
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Tales from Donegal, told in Kenny’s Bookshop

Note: This interview was broadcast on KUT-FM, an NPR station based in Austin, Texas.

Charles McGlinchy
Charles McGlinchy
In 1861 in Clonmany, on the Inishowen peninsula in the far north of County Donegal Ireland, Charles McGlinchy was born.  His was a windblown, rough world, wracked with beauty and hardship. A weaver by trade, and a bachelor, in his old age he realized he was the last of the McGlinchys, the last of his name. Night after night, he told his tale to an old neighbor, the schoolmaster Patrick Kavanagh, who wrote it all down. Patrick’s son Desmond found these copybooks after his father’s death, and offered them to Brian Friel, the renowned Irish playwright, who then edited the manuscript into a book called The Last of the Name.
This same book is what Desmond Kenny, of Kenny’s Bookshop in Galway, chose to discuss in our interview. When asked to pick a piece of writing that’s had a tremendous impact on him, he wandered the rich shelves of the shop, musing over all the books he’s known and loved, until he lighted upon this one, and knew it was the right choice. We spoke after hours in the family run book shop, which recently celebrated its 70th anniversary.
Click here: to listen to this ThoughtCast interview (18 minutes).

Posted on September 8, 2011 in History, Literature
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