Tag Archives: books

Another Conversation With Nathaniel Popkin

After Nathaniel Popkin first appeared on Life Elsewhere in 2018 to talk about his novel, Everything Is Borrowed we didn’t hesitate to invite the Philadelphia-based author back. Then, in response to the American political crisis, the movement, Writers Resist proved a renewed interest amongst writers in political discourse and prompted Stephanie Feldman and Popkin to co-edit, Who Will Speak For America? The eloquent and intellectually curios Nathaniel Popkin returned to our show to discuss the anthology. Now Nathaniel is back to talk about his latest work of fiction – set against the backdrop of 1976 Philadelphia, The Year Of The Return follows the path of two families, the Jewish Silks and African American Johnsons, as they are first united by marriage and then by grief, turmoil, and the difficult task of trying to live in an America failing to live up to its ideals. Both hyper-real and feverishly imagined, and told in the unfiltered voices of the characters themselves, Popkin summons the electric dimensions of racial conflict, sexual liberty, and economic collapse during America’s post-Vietnam urban meltdown. Paul Silk and Charlene Johnson are journalists whose love for each other and commitment to social justice were formed in the peace movements of the 1960s. But the idealism of that era leads to the urban deterioration of the 1970s. Mayor Frank Rizzo’s Philadelphia is a place of crime, white flight, and class resentment that is inhospitable to their interracial marriage, forcing them to move away. But when Charlene dies of cancer, Paul returns. Unmoored and unable to let go of Charlene, he wades back into the lives of the two families, with the hope of helping Charlene’s younger brother Monte, once a prodigy and now a troubled veteran of the Vietnam War. Their explosive reunion leads to the baring of personal revelations and dangerous secrets. This is a vivid story of families trying to reconnect with and support each other through trauma and loss, and a meditation on the possibility of moving on to a better future. We are delighted to welcome Nathaniel Popkin back to Life Elsewhere.

Plus new music from Felicia Douglass and Eric Gundel out Brooklyn who perform under the moniker, Gemma. You’ll hear Love Trade from Feeling’s Not A Tempo, their latest album, which we highly recommend. Montreal-based, multi-talented singer-songwriter, Sarah Krier gives us Wrap from her new long-player, Avoidable Injuries. Digital Vagabond hail from Denver, Colorado, Patrick Boyle is the composer, producer, and knob-twiddler on The Tyndall Effect, featuring Carly Lynn Meador aka Spirah on vocals. 

And, Norman B voices an opinion on guns, he first aired on a talk radio show in the early ’80s.

Show #336

Portrait by Peter Woodall

Summer Rayne Oakes. J Ryan Stradal. Gafacci.

“Is taking care of plants the best way to take care of yourself?” This question posed by Summer Rayne Oakes is creatively answered in her new book, How to Make a Plant Love You: Cultivate Green Space in Your Home and Heart. She explores ways to elevate the common potted plant from a decorative object that makes one’s space “look good” to a gateway to something deeper. “Taking care of other living things is a basic human need.” Says, Summer, “Without exercising care for others, we become stuck in own heads, anxious, lonely, and unreceptive to beauty. Becoming a good plant parent can radically open your mind. Watering plants, listening to their needs, and breathing in their scents can mold you into a more mindful and caring person.” The urban houseplant expert and environmental scientist wants to bring nature indoors, Summer has managed to grow 1,000 houseplants in her Brooklyn apartment (and they are thriving). Her secret? She approaches her relationships with plants as intentionally as if they were people.

J Ryan Stradal, the author of the best-selling, Kitchens Of The Great Midwest returns to Life Elsewhere to talk about his latest novel, The Lager Queen Of Minnesota. Edith Magnusson’s rhubarb pies are famous in the Twin Cities–they were named the third-best in the state of Minnesota and St. Anthony-Waterside Nursing Home has quickly become the hottest dinner ticket in town. Still, she lays awake wondering how her life might have been different if her father hadn’t left their family farm to her sister Helen, a decision that split their family in two. With the proceeds from the farm, her sister, Helen Blotz, built her husband Orval’s family soda business into the top-selling brewery in Minnesota. She singlehandedly created the light beer revolution and made their corporate motto ubiquitous: “Drink lots, it’s Blotz.” But Helen dismisses IPAs as a fad, and the Blotz fortune begins its inevitable decline. Soon, though, she finds a potential savior that’s surprisingly close to home. . .Diana Winter earns a shot at learning the beer business from the ground up just as the IPA revolution begins. The stakes couldn’t be higher: just as she’s launching her own brewpub, she’s due to deliver a baby girl. When the unthinkable happens, it’s up to Grandma Edith–and a delightfully surprising cadre of grandmother friends–to secure the next generation’s chances for a better future. Can Grandma Edith’s Rhubarb Pie In A Bottle Ale save Diana’s fledgling brewery, and change their hearts and fortunes forever?

Also in the show, we go to Accra, Ghana to hear new music from Gafacci. The beat-maker is known for his unique sounds and infusing afro rhythms into his electronic-based instrumentals.  This Ghanaian style is called aokpor directly influenced by his father, Sega Gafatche, a former band member of juju music legend, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey. On Gafacci’s new four-track EP, Tash BNM, (meaning Tash bought new music) he collaborates with vocalists Tinuke, Lazee, and Amaarae. Listen, enjoy and dance!

Show #335

Vices & Taboos

                            

Much of the health advice we receive today tells us that in order to be healthy, we must consume a Spartan diet, exercise with the intensity of an Olympic athlete, and take a drug for every ailment. We constantly worry about the foods we should or shouldn’t be eating and the medical tests we have neglected to take. And all that worry costs us dearly–financially, emotionally, and physically according to naturopathic physician Dr. Harry Ofgang and health journalist Erik Ofgang in their new book, The Good Vices. The sub-title is From Beer To Sex, The Surprising Truth About What’s Actually Good For You. Clearly, the Ofgangs have a sense of humor, but we questioned if sex or beer should be labeled as vices. Make sure you listen to hear their answers.

Aging, sex, and death. When combined together, these three emotive words become taboo for many people. In Jill Ciment’s latest novel, The Body In Question she thrusts the question of age and sex and death to the forefront of her imaginative and provocative story set in central Florida. A sensational murder trial is about to get underway. Two of the jurors: Hannah, a married fifty-two-year-old former Rolling Stone and Interview Magazine photographer of rock stars and socialites (she began to photograph animals when she realized she saw people “as a species”), and Graham, a forty-one-year-old anatomy professor. Both are sequestered (she, juror C-2; he, F-17) along with the other jurors at the Econo Lodge off I-75. As the shocking and numbing details of the crime are revealed during a string of days and courtroom hours, and the nights play out in a series of court-financed meals at Outback Steak House (the state isn’t paying for their drinks) and Red Lobster, Hannah and Graham fall into a furtive affair, keeping their oath as jurors never to discuss the trial. During deliberations, the lovers learn that they are on opposing sides of the case. Suddenly they look at one another through an altogether different lens, as things become more complicated. After the verdict, Hannah returns home to her much older husband, but the case ignites once again after public outrage over the verdict. Then, the judge receives an anonymous letter telling of “two fellow jurors who had sexual contact.” This happens as her husband is dying. Ciment reveals in our conversation, her own story of aging, sex, death and how she used her experiences for her moving and powerful book.

The Podcast is available at NPR One, Apple Podcasts & Mixcloud

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3
Sundays 10.00am ET at WNRM The Root
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:
Sundays 11.00am ET at 
WNRM The Root
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

Show #327

Two Books, Two Conversations

                            

It would be reasonable to presume by the title, Why We Elect Narcissists And Sociopaths – And How We Can Stop is yet another book determined to explain how Donald J. Trump became President of the United States. But, bestselling author, therapist, lawyer, and mediator Bill Eddy accomplishes more by describing how dangerous, high-conflict personalities have gained power in governments worldwide – and what citizens can do to keep these people out of office. Eddy suggests democracy is under siege. He says the reason isn’t politics but personalities: too many countries have come under the sway of high-conflict people (HCPs) who have become politicians. Most of these high-conflict politicians have traits of narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial (i.e., sociopathic) personality disorder, or both. HCPs don’t avoid conflict, they thrive on it, widening social divisions and exacerbating international tensions. Drawing on historical examples from Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Nixon to Trump, Maduro, and Putin, Eddy shows how HCPs invent enemies and manufacture phony crises so they can portray themselves as the sole heroic figure who can deal with them, despite their inability to actually solve problems.

Nima is a young Sherpa woman living in the foothills of the Himalayas, a range so immense and place so isolated it is impossible to imagine anything existing beyond it. Nima and her sister are both betrothed to Norbu, a local Sherpa, but when Norbu stuns both families by only wanting to marry Nima, she flees her father’s wrath and the destiny that had been arranged for all of them. Disguised as a man, Nima seeks work and is hired by an American journalist to guide their small group up to Everest Base Camp. The journey is treacherous, and Nima challenges every restriction her culture places on her gender while balancing the duties of her new role as a guide. Popescu brings to life the many contradictions of the region through the eyes of Nima: trails strewn with litter overlook majestic views, Buddhist clarity is marred by sexual oppression and a tourism industry that fuels the local economy also threatens to destroy it. Adam Popescu’s harrowing yet poignant debut novel is all the more intriguing because he convinces the reader these are not his words and thoughts but those of17-year-old Nima.

Order NIMA directly from Unnamed Press and they will donate 20% to the Apa Sherpa Foundation, which provides free hot lunches to schoolchildren in rural Nepal and pays their teachers’ salaries.

The Podcast is available at NPR One, Apple Podcasts & Mixcloud

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3
Sundays 10.00am ET at WNRM The Root
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:
Sundays 11.00am ET at 
WNRM The Root
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

Show #326

Another Look At The Headlines + A Conversation With Ani DiFranco + New Music from Tiawa

Theresa Resigns! A Stable Genius Insults The Speaker! Espionage & Assange! The “I” Word! Alabama Abortion Alarm! Dems Identity Crisis! Trump Trauma Disorder! Orchestrated Chaos! The headlines kept coming. Breathlessly the talking heads on cable news and the itchy-fingered online commentators barely had time to catch their collective breath this past week. As breaking news happened more alarms went off with cutaways to even more breaking news. It was hard to keep up. Thankfully, at Life Elsewhere Towers, we can always call upon Dr. Binoy Kampmark to garner his astute, and often alternate take on the incessant headline news blasts. Dr. Kampmark a frequent contributor to Life Elsewhere is a senior lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. He writes regularly for Counterpunch.

Celebrated singer-songwriter & social activist, Ani DiFranco, has written a memoir, No Walls, & The Recurring Dream. We are especially delighted to have been able to chat with Ani while she dashes about on a hectic schedule. In her absorbing book, Ani recounts her early life from a place of hard-won wisdom, combining personal expression, the power of music, feminism, political activism, storytelling, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and much more into an inspiring whole. Her writing is frank, honest, passionate, as she tells the tale of one woman’s eventful and radical journey to the age of thirty. Her enthusiasm for life and her beliefs comes across so evidently in our conversation and she does not hesitate to comment forcefully on the recent anti-abortion move is some Southern States. “We should have a constitutional amendment ensuring women’s rights for reproductive freedom!” She announces, adding, “Choosing when to reproduce is the most fundamental right a human being should have!” Make sure you do not miss Norman B’s conversation with Ani DiFranco.

When incredible new music comes our way, we feel it’s our duty to share it with you. Tiawa is an accomplished songwriter, and on her brilliant single, Pain Killa she gives us a call to the collective consciousness, she reminds us of the power of our love to conquer and overcome as she says, “Living in a high vibration, tired of low expectation…let the love shine bright and raise it up…because the heart is a natural Pain Killa. The Brighton-based chanteuse’s single is available on the Roots Garden label and we are planning to check in with them shortly because their recent output is simply first class. Turn the volume up to 11 for this one! Enjoy!

The Podcast is available at NPR One, Apple Podcasts & Mixcloud

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3
Sundays 10.00am ET at WNRM The Root
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:
Sundays 11.00am ET at 
WNRM The Root
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

Show #325

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