Category Archives: Summer reading

Funny, With A Message


When Katie Met Cassidy and Blown are two new, clever-funny novels. Both are very much set in the present, each book reels off timely iconic observations and pop-culture references without a hint of self-consciousness. Their fast-pasted comedic well-constructed narratives with believable characters draw the reader in, while almost slyly revealing a deeper, thought-provoking message. In When Katie Met CassidyCamille Perri proudly writes about, as she says, “her queerness” without preaching, pontificating or even pandering. She knows the LGBTQ community inside out and she takes the reader into what is most likely for many, a mysterious scary world. Perri devises a simple love story for the plot. There’s Katie, born and raised in Kentucky, now an aspiring, late- twenties lawyer in New York. She’s a good girl, a people pleaser and a rule follower.  Katie finds herself sitting in a disoriented haze across a boardroom table from another a lawyer in a sharply tailored man’s suit, who on first look Katie mistakes for a man. This is native New Yorker, Cassidy, a confident, beautiful woman who seems to break all the rules Katie has tried so hard to follow. A hot passionate love story unfolds between two women, yet Camille Perri skillfully avoids cliches and stylized caricatures. Instead, her message is, no matter what your gender or sexual preference, when you’re in love you share the same emotions as anyone else in love. It’s a straightforward notion, but even in this modern age, there are still too many amongst us who would rather call it a love that dare not speak its name.

With five comic novels, all with one-word titles: Raw, Baked, Moist, Delicious and Salty (recently adapted into a major motion picture, titled Gun Shy, starring Antonio Banderas), Mark Haskell Smith excels at cooking up a supremely weird atmosphere and spicing it up with equally weird sex and violence. With Blown, his latest novel, Mark Haskell Smith goes all out with a wildly entertaining satire of corporate greed, sexual desire, and crime in the global financial services industry. Exceptionally funny, ribald and sharp-eyed, Blown starts as a simple case of embezzlement and explodes into a fatal high-stakes gamble for money and the pursuit of happiness. With his trade-mark knack of creating a cast of believable if not eccentric characters, in realistic but extraordinary circumstances, Smith gives his quizzical take on greed and human frailty. All the while the reader cannot stop laughing.

Make sure not to miss Norman B’s spirited interviews with two keenly talented and engaging authors on the next edition of Life Elsewhere.

Life Elsewhere is now available at NPR One & iTunes

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  
Mondays 5.00pm PT & Wednesdays 2.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio
Thursdays 6.00pm ET at Internet Radio Network
Fridays at 9.00pm GMT on Cornucopia Radio

If you miss any editions of Life Elsewhere, go here then go to the Listen On-Demand panel, choose the date of a show and click play.

Life Elsewhere Music airs:
Mondays at 6.00pm & Wednesdays at 3.00pm Pacific Time on NWCZ Radio
Fridays at 10.00am Eastern Time on IRN
Cornucopia Radio airs Life Elsewhere Music throughout each week

You can hear all the volumes over at Mixcloud

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You Cannot Open A Book Without Learning Something*

The last Saturday in April is Independent Bookstore Day. In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism. They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand. In fact, there are more of them this year than there were last year. Take a look at the photo above, it shows just a small selection of wonderful books we have talked about at Life Elsewhere. If you overlooked any of them. we encourage you to pop into your local independent bookstore and search them out. While you are there, help us a little and mention you heard about the book on Life Elsewhere.
*Confucius wrote our headline.

We are very pleased to announce that Life Elsewhere can now be heard on Cornucopia Radio

Life Elsewhere airs:
Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3  

Mondays 5.00pm PT & Wednesdays 2.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio
Thursdays 6.00pm ET at Internet Radio Network
Fridays at 9.00pm GMT on Cornucopia Radio

Life Elsewhere Music airs:
Wednesdays at 3.00pm Pacific Time on NWCZ Radio
Fridays at 10.00am Eastern Time on I R N

You can hear all the volumes over at Mixcloud

Get Rich. Get Laid. Get Even.

“I really wanted to create a new type of publishing model,” Says Michelle Miller. “I wanted to create a project that mimicked the world that I was talking about, and to do that, I felt it needed to function like a start-up. So I set up an LLC, raised money from venture capitalist investors for equity, and basically, they get a piece of whatever I would’ve gotten if I had just done it as an individual writer. To me, you can invest in content the same way you can invest in an app, and maybe it works, and maybe it doesn’t.” Miller a former banker at JPMorgan, is the author of The Underwriting her debut novel with the sub-title, Get Rich. Get Laid. Get Even. A corporate thriller that takes place at Hook, an online dating start -up, where a high-stakes deal pitches the power of Wall Street against the savvy of Silicon Valley—until a young woman’s death threatens to topple it all. Michelle Miller draws from her own experience to craft this believable tale of millennial culture. In the next edition of Life ElsewhereMichelle Miller talks with Norman B about The Underwriting, the juxtaposition of  Wall Street and Silicon Valley, gender politics and her acute observations on the daily routine of a 25 – 40 year-old urban professional.

Life Elsewhere airs every Sunday at 12 noon ET on The Source WMNF HD3 and Mondays at 5.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio

Back To School

It’s that time of the year again, summer is almost over and talk of education begins to filter into conversation as schools reopen. A perfect opportunity for Life Elsewhere to delve into the topic of learning. First up, Norman B chats with Rafe Esquith, who’s book Real Talk for Real Teachers,has just been released in paperback. Mr. Esquith, author of the New York Times bestselling, Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire has 30 plus years of experience as a classroom teacher in Room 56 at Hobart Elementary School in Los Angeles. His knowledge and exemplary teaching skill is matched by his honest and often controversial pronouncements, such as, “Thomas Jefferson was wrong about something big!” This will be a thought-provoking interview, you won’t want to miss.

In the second half of the program, education emerges again as Norman B tackles a real-life conundrum. Recently, we sent out an email blast, promoting an upcoming edition of Life Elsewhere. Unfortunately, there was a glaring spelling mistake. No one saw it, until the moment the send button was hit. Even more peculiar, not one of our recipients made mention of the mistake. Was it hidden in plain sight, so obvious, no one saw it? How is it possible that a conspicuous spelling mistake could go unnoticed by so many eyes? To answer these questions and more, Christopher Chabris, co-author of The Invisible Gorilla will join the program. His book helps us understand why and how our brains miss the obvious. Norman B will ask Mr. Chabris what we can do to inoculate ourselves from everyday illusions, especially cringeworthy, spelling mistakes.

We encourage you to share your thoughts and questions on both these topics by sending an email to info(at)

Plus, you’ll hear the latest Hit That Never Was, selected by a listener.  Send us your suggestion, we would love to know what it is? Send it to hitthatneverwas(at)life

Life Elsewhere airs every Monday at 9.00am ET (1400 GMT)

WMNF 88.5fm



Did You Miss Fact Or Fiction?

Life Elsewhere airs live at 9.00am ET, every Monday. Even though many, many listeners never miss a live broadcast, for some, perhaps in a different time zone, or maybe distracted with other obligations, don’t get to hear the show as we go out live. No worries, we have Podcasts available of every show and you can listen again (and again) at your leisure. The latest edition of Life Elsewhere, titled Fact Or Fiction featured Russian blogger Sergey Armeyskov, talking to us about his fellow countrymen’s take on the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17 and the difference between the West’s view of Russian and Russia’s view of the West.

Jeremy Kolosine of 8 Bit Operators joined the show to explain how he and his friends and associates make music with re-tooled Game Boys, Ataris, Nintendo Entertainment Systems, Commodore 64 and Apple ll 8-bit computers. In the show you’ll hear examples from the exceptional tribute albums to Devo, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode and The Beatles  Jeremy and his cohorts have produced.

Former topnotch attorney Parker Stern, still crippled by courtroom stage fright, takes on a dicey case for an elusive video game designer known to the world only by the name of “Poniard.”  In Poniard’s blockbuster online video game, Abduction!, a real-life movie mogul is charged with kidnapping and murdering a beautiful actress who disappeared in the 1980s. Predictably, the mogul–William “the Conqueror” Bishop–has responded with a libel lawsuit. Now it’s up to Parker to defend the game designer in the suit.In defending Poniard, Parker discovers that people aren’t who they claim to be and that nothing is as it seems. At one point, his client resorts to blackmail, threatening to expose a dark secret about Parker. Then, many of the potential witnesses who could have helped the case die prematurely, and the survivors are too frightened to talk. Parker begins to feel as if he’s merely a character in a video game, fighting malevolent Level Bosses who appear out of nowhere and threaten to destroy him. This is the plot of the new novel, Reckless Disregard by attorney-author Robert Rotstein, who talks with Norman B about theatrics in the courtroom and separating fact from fiction.

Also in the program, the latest Hit That Never Was, selected by listener who says her dog wags his tail when the Life Elsewhere theme comes on. Down On My Knees by Nigerian-German singer-songwriter Ayo, is her spirited suggestion. Don’t forget, you too can suggest a Hit That Never Was by sending an email to hitthatneverwas at lifeelsewhere dot co

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