Thursday, December 25, 2008

Reading for Comfort

One of the things I do at KAXE is pick out the selections for the KAXE Book of the Month Club (you can be in this by pledging your yearly support at our 1 dollar a day/$365 year level....I was talking with one of the members the other day and asked her what she was looking for in a book right now. "Something light!" I totally knew what she meant.... she described it as needing a "comfort" book and that she goes thru periods where she also needs her reading that is good for her/"vegetable" reading....

When it comes to my own reading, a lot of times that's exactly what I'm looking for - a very delicate balance between light reading and something engrossing....not a harelquin romance exactly, but something that I will get absorbed in and finish quickly.

The cool thing was that I had the perfect book for our KAXE Bookclub member - because I recently interviewed author Jennie Shortridge for Realgoodwords. I'd really liked her book "Eating Heaven" which was the story of a plus-sized food writer who has takes care of her ailing uncle Benny. In becoming a caregiver she comes to realize she needs to learn to care for herself and find what she wants out of life.

But back to the new novel by Jennie Shortridge that I passed on - "Love and Biology at the End of the Universe". This is the story of Mira Serafino - a biology teacher who works hard to appear to be perfect - at work, with her husband, with her daughter and father....when one element isn't quite what she envisions, she packs her bags and hits the road to find a new life. One reviewer wrote:

"Shortridge has tapped into what may be everybody's fantasy at some point or other: if you weren't saddled with the consequences of the decisions you've made over the years, who would you be now?"

You can hear my conversation with Jennie Shortridge at the Realgoodwords archive
or you can hear it Sunday morning at 9am, streaming live audio at

Let me know if you know what I mean about needing "comfort" books - got any recommendations?

Monday, December 15, 2008

'Tis the Season to Write Poetry!

I received an email today from Todd Boss, who joined me on Realgoodwords recently. (click here for the archive).


Please consider this a CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS, and spread the word among the Minnesota and North Dakota poets in your circles!

I have indeed heard from some of you ... forgive this repeat reminder ...

FLURRY--a seasonal online journal of wintry poetry from Minnesota and the Dakotas—will launch for its second season on the solstice, December 21, and publish original wintry poetry through the vernal equinox on March 20.

You can find last year's entire volume here:

Right now the site is inaccessible from anywhere but the link above (it's been "taken down"), but it will be accessible during its publication period from my web site.

Any previously unpublished poem is eligible that touches (however lightly) on themes of winter, cold, quiet, dormancy, darkness... (It must "have a mind of winter.") I'm open to all poets, writing in all styles. Submissions (in MS Word) should be accompanied by a cover letter with a short bio for use on the site. Send as e-mail to I do not pay for poems, but nor does Flurry claim copyrights; rights remain with the poets.

Poems will be accepted throughout the journal's publication run.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Romance of The Cabin

An expansive window looking out on white pine, frozen water and the lights from a house on the island across the way....the smell of coffee brewing and wood burning...time to play a game, read a novel...a place to breathe, to nap and to eat and BE slower.

Yup, that's the cabin. Have you ever noticed that when someone says "I'm going up to the cabin" or "My grandparents used to have a cabin there!" they have a buoyancy in their voice, a glassy smile on their face?

That's because the cabin is not just a cabin. It is a place of refuge.

This week I had the chance to talk with author and architect Dale Mulfinger. If you didn't get a chance to hear it, check the archive!

The Rawness of Grief with Ann Hood

This week I get the chance to talk with novelist Ann Hood. I talked with Ann last year about her novel, "The Knitting Circle", which was based in part on her own experiences. This video is a great explanation of that book.

Ann's latest book is NOT a novel. It's her first non-fiction in fact, about the process of grief. Death and losing people you love is often written about - but besides Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking" I haven't read this raw or real of an account of how grief can envelope you.

What I took away most strongly from "Comfort: A Journey Through Grief" was how telling our stories can help. Talking, connecting, listening....

In reading this you may think that "Comfort" is a sad book. It's not. It's as Ann describes the process of grief - horrible, gut-wrenching, life-altering, sad, but also in small ways, filled with the joy of having loved.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Music on this week's episode

On this week's show you'll hear my interview with Wally Lamb and Maggie Montgomery's conversation with author Terry Mejdrich. Here's the music I used for the program:

Michelle Shocked "Quality of Mercy" from the Soundtrack to the movie Dead Man Walking

Jackie Greene "I Don't Live in a Dream" from "Giving Up the Ghost"

Ian Ethan Case "DN16 - Appalachia by Air/Between Sky & Trees/View Through the Center of Time" from "Into Open Land"
*thanks to Ian for thanking KAXE on his latest CD. We had great fun and entertainment with him in-studio on the Friday Morning Show last winter!

The Hour I First Believed

....that I would have the reading endurance to read Wally Lamb's new 723 page novel "The Hour I First Believed". I first believed it when I became so engrossed in it over Thanksgiving weekend.

I had the chance to talk with Wally Lamb on this week's Realgoodwords. Wally had the daunting task of following up his first two (bestselling and Oprah bookclub picks) novels "She's Come Undone" and "I Know This Much Is True". It took him nine years and after finishing his book, I can see why.

"The Hour I First Believed" is not a light, beach read. In fact, it's probably a little too heavy for your tote bag. But it does make you think. About big issue stuff: like forgiveness, guilt, anger, shame, joy, family, addiction....

Does anyone else have the problem, when reading a meaty book like this, that it affects your mood? I read it over Thanksgiving weekend, and it wasn't exactly my most cheery holiday ever.

Do the books you read affect your mood? What books do you seek out to change your mood?
When I talked to Wally, we discussed what his mood was like as he wrote the book. If you missed the conversation listen here.