Category Archives: Authors

A Conversation With Rebecca Handler

After reading, Edie Richter Is Not Alone, the outstanding debut novel from Rebecca Handler, the big question was how do you talk to the author about her surprising book without revealing the “secret” I prepared myself by taking my time in reading a book that taunts you to immerse yourself in the tragicomic stylized writing and devour it in one sitting. Instead, I forced myself to gobble up Handler’s cleverly observant prose over three evenings. It was a struggle, but it was worth it. Rebecca Handler’s writing is so smart, so clever, she craftily intends you to not put her book down. I began our conversation with, “possum”. A reasonable start, the first sentence in Edie Richter Is Not Alone is, “The possum is dead”. From there, Rebecca Handler explained that Edie Richter is married, childless by choice, and moving from San Francisco to Perth, Australia. She leaves behind a sister and mother still mourning the recent death of her father, but Edie has a secret, she committed an unthinkable act that she can barely admit to herself. Edie Richter narrates her experience of complicated grief with brutal accuracy. As you read, you discover along with Edie herself what happened to an oddly ordinary wife and daughter, who in her stunned anguish resembles all of us. 

   

Also in the program, new music out of Hull in the UK, from accomplished musician Katie Spencer, along with Alan Thompson & Spencer Cozens give us a beautiful version of the late John Martyn’s Hurt In Your Heart. The legendary British songwriter, guitarist, and singer, born Iain David McGeachy in London, 1948, sadly died in 2009. Katie Spencer pays tribute to Martyn with Cozens and Spencer, two longstanding members of his band. The recording sessions for the three-track EP, Hurt In Your Heart were captured as live performances. Plus, new music from an artist who describes herself as, “A 15-year-old singer-songwriter from Leigh-on-sea in Essex and I have been writing music for a couple of years now. Here I am with my first EP. I started solely on piano, but I have really enjoyed pushing my guitar and vocals too“. Her name is Ruby Hickman, the two tracks I chose are, I Hate You and the title cut, The Fake You. A talent to keep a watchful eye out for. 

Norman B April 10, 2021

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What Animals May Tell Us About Aliens. A Return Visit With Katherine May.

                                   

Was Arik Kershenbaum’s intent in writing, The Zoologist’s Guide To The Galaxy to make the reader reconsider – everything? To look at our world from a new perspective? “Yes!” the zoologist, College Lecturer, and Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge responds rapidly. His new book will not only make you think, you’ll also find yourself wanting to share your discoveries. Kershenbaum has a quirky, yet delightful knack of setting up a question, answering it, then questioning what you’ve just learned. He is a gifted storyteller who uses colloquialisms and common-day language, while his studious research is paraded before us without a hint of laborious, long-winded academia. The book gallops along at an agreeable speed, yet never once do you feel the author is only giving you a précis of his knowledge. Arik says Scientists are confident that life exists elsewhere in the universe. However, while we often imagine that life on other planets is the stuff of science fiction, the time has come to abandon our fantasies of space invaders and movie monsters and instead place our expectations on a solid scientific footing. Short of aliens landing in New York City, how do we know what they are like? Could there be an alien planet with supersonic animals? A moon where creatures have a language composed of smells? Will aliens scream with fear, act honestly, or have technology? Kirksenbaum draws on his own expert understanding of life on Earth and Darwin’s theory of evolution, which applies throughout the universe to answer these questions and more. The Zoologist’s Guide To The Galaxy is an engrossing book. Arik Kershenbaum will open your eyes to the marvels of our planet and the universe beyond.

Katherine May, author of Wintering: The Power Of Rest And Retreat In Difficult Times returns to the program to talk about where we are now at the second anniversary of the Covid pandemic. Katherine wrote her book before she or we had any knowledge of Covid 19. The unlikely timeliness of her book was and still is remarkable. Katherine has insights into what we have all been going through in the last year, not least of all because she had written a personal narrative about the unexpected. In the conversation, Katherine shares her thoughts about coping and explores the ways we can repair ourselves when life knocks us down.

Over on Life Elsewhere Music Vol 225, talented Liverpool-based duo, King Hannah offers a remarkable cover of Bruse Springsteen’s State Trooper. Plus, sixty minutes of very cool new releases.

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A Conversation With Chip Jacobs

If you are going to write a crime thriller, what are the essential ingredients? Well, how about a big helping of murder, mix in a generous portion of blackmail, spice everything up with a layer of greed, add a dollop or two of 1979 Los Angeles, and sprinkle in a shiny El Camino. Pasadena-based writer, Chip Jacobs has perfected the recipe with his latest book, The Darkest Glare. Only there is one important ingredient Mr. Jacobs has no option but to admit to – his new crime thriller is true, all of it. The Darkest Glare reads like a grotesquely macabre fantasy it also has moments of absurd hilarity. Yet despite, Chip Jacobs’s undoubted ability to create a dark twisted tale, he readily agrees, even he could not have come up with such a bizarre cast of characters, or a plot with more twists and turns than a bowl of spaghetti. Mr. Jacobs tells the tale with a steady hand and crystal-clear eye. He spares no details yet he skillfully moves the story along at a feverish pace. Below the surface, this is a story of personal failure and hidden vulnerability. As the story unfolds Chip paints the complexity of real people instead of presenting two-dimensional villains. Like his book, Jacobs verve for explaining the details makes for a fascinating guest.

Just as we were putting this show together, news came in that the last surviving member of the original Wailers had passed. Jamaican-born Neville O’Riley Livingston also known as Bunny Livingston or Bunny Wailer was dead at the age of 73 just a couple of months short of his 74th birthday. Long considered a living legend, the Rastafarian singer-songwriter winner of a number of Grammy awards was named recently by Newsweek as one of the three most important musicians in world music. For a tribute, we take you back in time to circa 1981 to hear Bunny Wailer’s, Rise and Shine, a 12” platter on Solomonic Records. Rest In Peace, sir.

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More Questions Than Answers?

What happened? How did we get to where less than one percent have more wealth than everyone else in America combined? Why are so many people holding down jobs but living in their cars because they can’t afford rent? Who are the people panhandling at every busy intersection of every American city? How is it possible that we spend gazillions of dollars on weapons that will never be used while children starve across all fifty states? Why is health-care debt the number one cause of bankruptcy in America? Questions. So many questions. Dale Maharidge has spent the last couple of decades asking these questions. He has written extensively about all of these problems and more. Dale has traveled the length and breadth of the USA to investigate, to interview, to experience, to learn—to attempt to understand the downward spiral of the American working class. His latest book, Fucked At Birth delves deep into all these issues. He explores the realities of being poor in America in the coming decade, as a pandemic, economic crisis, and social revolution up-end the country. Maharidge channels the history of poverty in America to help inform the voices he encounters daily. With Fucked At Birth, he dares the reader to see themselves in those suffering the most and to finally, after decades of refusal, recalibrate what we are going to do about it.

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To begin the show, new music from Cathal Coughlan an Irish singer-songwriter who is not shy about sharing and exposing his opinions. As you’ll hear with Owl In The Parlour from his latest solo album, Songs Of Co-Aklan. The Irish Times described Cathal as the “genius of Irish rock”, noting his earlier and acclaimed bands, Microdisney and The Fatima Mansions. Make sure you check out Norman B’s Conversation With Cathal Coughlan. We close the show with a powerful new singer-songwriter discovery from London, YVA with a beautiful acoustic version of her debut single, I Won’t Wait. Amy Holford performs under the moniker of YVA, and we suggest you keep a watchful eye out for more releases from YVA.

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Two Important Books

                       
Andrew Marantz – Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation 

For several years, Andrew Marantz, a New Yorker staff writer, has been embedded in two worlds. The first is the world of social-media entrepreneurs, who, acting out of naïvete and reckless ambition, upended all traditional means of receiving and transmitting information. The second is the world of the people he calls “the gate crashers”–the conspiracists, white supremacists, and nihilist trolls who have become experts at using social media to advance their corrosive agenda. Antisocial ranges broadly–from the first mass-printed books to the trending hashtags of the present; from secret gatherings of neo-Fascists to the White House press briefing room–and traces how the unthinkable becomes thinkable, and then how it becomes reality. Antisocial reveals how the boundaries between technology, media, and politics have been erased, resulting in a deeply broken informational landscape–the landscape in which we all now live. Marantz shows how alienated young people are led down the rabbit hole of online radicalization, and how fringe ideas spread–from anonymous corners of social media to cable TV to the ex-President’s Twitter feed.

Laura Levitt  – The Objects That Remain

Professor of Religion, Jewish Studies, and Gender, Laura Levitt was raped in her own bed. The police arrived too late to apprehend her attacker. When they left, investigators took items with them—a pair of sweatpants, the bedclothes—and a rape exam was performed at the hospital. However, this evidence was never processed. Decades later, Laura returns to these objects, viewing them not as clues that will lead to the identification of her assailant but rather as a means of engaging traumatic legacies writ large. Her book, The Objects That Remain is equal parts personal memoir and fascinating examination of the ways in which the material remains of violent crimes inform our experience of, and thinking about, trauma and loss. Considering artifacts in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and evidence in police storage facilities across the country, Laura’s story moves between intimate trauma, the story of an unsolved rape, and genocide. Laura Levitt talks frankly about the trauma of her rape and reveals how these objects that remained the stories that surround them enable forms of intimacy. In this way, she models for us a different kind of reckoning, where justice is an animating process of telling and holding.

Plus, new music from UK-based singer-songwriter, Léanie Kaleido with All The Things I’m Made Of a cut from her new album, How To Weigh A Whale Without A Scale. With a stellar musical heritage – her father is Top Topham of The Yardbirds fame, Léanie says “I’m an indie freak who makes music that isn’t very indie at all”. Her album was produced by Mark Gardner of Ride which kind of contradicts her not so indie claim. Expect to hear more from Léanie Kaleido on an upcoming Life Elsewhere Music show.

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