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01-09-09: Agony Column Podcast News Report :
Lou Anders Takes on The New Fantasy

What's darker, grittier and sells better than expected in days such as these which are already dark and gritty enough without the help of excellent fantasy writers? Well, it's what I'm going to call for want of a better term, The New Fantasy, and since Lou Anders of Pyr Books is publishing a boatload of it in the upcoming months, I thought I'd give him a call.

Lou Anders is a lucky guy. His job is to read a bunch of great fiction and then publish it, and as it happens — or at least as he observes and I concur — fiction does well during recessions. So what's going to happen to the fiction market during a full-blown, we're-wearin'-barrels Depression? Looks like it's boom times for genre fiction. Lou and I explored The New Fantasy and talked about Pyr's and other publishers current and upcoming titles. You can hear the podcast at this link and in the interim, you can enjoy these lovely new covers by John Picacio (though I liked the Gollancz covers as well) for the upcoming US debut of a series I just loved to death, The Age of Misrule by Mark Chadbourne. Here's a review of 'World's End', 'Darkest Hour' and 'Always Forever.' Lou's bringing them out as trade paperbacks. They'll make decent pillows maybe, when you’re trying to sleep in that barrel.

Pyr Cover for Mark Chadboune World's End by Jon Picacio

Pyr Cover for Mark Chadboune Darkest Hour by Jon Picacio

Pyr Cover for Mark Chadboune Always Forever by Jon Picacio

Garland Thompson
01-08-09: Agony Column Podcast Interview : :
Kathryn Petruccelli Vs. Garland Thompson, Jr.

By Kathryn Petruccelli

Garland Thompson, Jr. is a poet, actor and producer who currently holds the title of Pacific Grove (CA) Poet-in-Residence and multiple roles with Salinas Public Libraries. He was instrumental in helping to bring Jimmy Santiago Baca to speak at the Cesar Chavez Library (sometimes quite literally as his duties included airport pick up!). Each role fits equally as well on him; he is a man seemingly everywhere with endless projects. On the evening of November 8, 2008, he got to see the fruits of this particular labor when the room filled past capacity for Baca. He also got to slip off his program director/producer hat for a moment and become poet again. Garland spits two original bits with equal fervor: “Somebody Write Me a Poem” and “Keep It Open,” before introducing Mr. Baca. Here is the link.

Marc Cabrera
01-07-09: Agony Column Podcast Interview : :
Marc Cabrera Performs Live at the Jimmy Santiago Baca Event

By Kathryn Petruccelli

Marc Cabrera is a journalist and performance poet. For the Baca event, he shared his poem “Sprinkle Me” (which has a rawer version Cabrera cleaned up for a family night), and a piece entitled “Money for the Libraries,” complete with audience participation. His sentiments in the latter are not based on hypothetical or general cases of funds being diverted -as too often they are- from public services, but very real events in the community he addressed. Some might remember that some years back the Salinas Public Libraries were scheduled to shut their doors for good. A few things happened to halt that potential disaster, like actor Bill Murray, in town for a golf tournament, getting word of the problem and making it national news. In addition, Salinas voters have since passed a tax to help keep the libraries afloat. Here is the link.

01-06-09: Agony Column Podcast Interview : :
: A *(Late) 2008 Interview with Chris Cleave : 'Little Bee' Part 2

There's a passage in this interview with Chris Cleave that I've played for myself again and again. It's at 8:58, and Cleave talks about why he addresses the topics of bereavement and infidelity in his novels. I think it gives a real indication as to why his work is both unique and powerful. Cleave has a great ability to combine the humor and horror to include both in a generous world view that makes this second part of the interview, linked here, well worth listening — and listening again. Good books don’t earn re-reading; they demand it.

01-05-09: Agony Column Podcast Interview : : A *(Late) 2008 Interview with Chris Cleave : 'Little Bee'

Talking with Chris Cleave about his novel 'Little Bee' was nearly as cathartic as reading the novel itself, and an experience with a similar texture. There were moments of joy, and of sadness as well. I suppose I never felt the horror that the book inspires and describes so well, but we certainly talked about horror. Readers should note that Cleave's first novel, 'Incendiary' has been made into a movie, starring Ewan McGregor and a Michelle Williams. It's a fascinating combination of a marital drama and a surreal vision of London in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. We talked about the similarities between the two books; you can hear the first part of our conversation via this link. The interview starts with a reading from the novel; I had Cleave do two readings, so there's another in front of tomorrow's podcast of the second half of the interview.

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