Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"A Thousand Lives" by Julia Scheeres

This week on Realgoodwords I talk with author Julia Scheeres. She has a chilling new book called "A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown". It's a chilling book that doesn't look at Jim Jones exactly; it's about the people who were there. Scheeres has written the book in a unique style - showcasing some of the people, without the reader knowing their outcomes. Reviewers have said "Scheeres captures the humanity within this terrible story, vividly depicting indiviguals trapped in a vortex of hope and fear, faith and loss of faith." Scheeres researched Jonestown and looked through over 50,000 pagest of files from the FBI including some movies that feature the people of the church. It's chilling to watch now. Tune in for my conversation this Wednesday night at 6pm and Sundays at 9am. Or check the archived interviews of Realgoodwords.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

James Lee Burke on KAXE

This week I have the GREAT FORTUNE to talk with James Lee Burke again. His 30th novel is is out, called "Feast Day of Fools".   Tune in tonight to Realgoodwords or Sunday mornings.  If you miss the show you can listen to archived editions of the interviews here! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It was a two book weekend

I had the best time getting lost in two novels last weekend. Both had to do with the secrets of families.  Both were the kind of reading that reminded me of being a kid and taking a book with me everywhere, even in the boat on the lake.  Why I wanted to be transported from a beautiful lake in Minnesota is beyond me, but stories had way too big of a pull to keep me planted in that boat with nightcrawlers and picnic baskets of fried chicken.  Right now I'd give anything to be back on that boat.  But then?  Give me a book and I was happy!

Ellen Baker is a Minnesota writer who has just published her second novel "I Gave My Heart To Know This".  What I like about it is how in-depth Ellen goes into WWII and the roles that women had (in Superior, Wisconsin) as welders and workers while the men were off to war.  She shows these women with all their strengths and weaknesses.  And believe me, they have both of these, in spades.

"I really loved reading this powerful and poignant book, which, though it acknowledges pain, regret and remorse, ultimately is a celebration of life.” —Elizabeth Berg, author of Once Upon a Time There Was You and Open House

The other book I read "Maine" by J. Courtney Sullivan, also told the story of a complicated family.  A family shrouded in secrets.  The Kelleher's are a big clan of Irish Catholics who have never quite gotten over the death of their patriarch, Daniel.  Where once they gathered together and celebrated (with their fighting and bickering of course) now the family barely interacts with each other, even splitting the summer months up at their cabin in Maine instead of all going there together.

“Sullivan beautifully channels Alice through her memories…The dialogue sizzles as the tension between the women’s love and anger toward one another tightens…You don’t want the novel to end.” –The New York Times Book Review
 Ellen Baker is my guest this week on Realgoodwords, and J. Courtney Sullivan will be later in August. Tell me about your summer reads!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Secret bookstores

I found this video on author Spencer Seidel's site.  Reminds me of a great used bookstore in Dinkytown I spent so much time in while I was at the University of Minnesota.  Sigh.  Bookstores. 
There's No Place Like Here: Brazenhead Books from Etsy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2Minnesota Writers this week

Danielle Sosin's novel "The Long-Shining Waters" won the Milkweed National Fiction prize this year.  Publisher's Weekly said, "Sosin writes sensuously detailed prose and distills the emotions of her characters into a profound and universal need for acceptance and love." 

Danielle will be our guest this week and we'll talk about the draw of Lake Superior, for her personally and as a writer.

Also happening this week - Minnesota writer Amie Klempnauer Miller will join us to talk about "She Looks Just Like You - A Memoir of (Nonbiological Lesbian) Motherhood".  In it Amie searches for a way to describe her role.  She's like any first time parent with anxieties and challenges.  But she also faces things that not every parent does - as a nonbiological mom she had to stand before a judge to adopt her own daughter. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This week on Realgoodwords

What kind of books do you look for in the summertime?  This week on Realgoodwords we've got some new books, fiction and non-fiction, that might be right up your alley. 

"Wild Bill Donovan:  The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage" by Douglas Waller.  Waller is a former Newsweek and Time magazine reporter who has put together the story of Wild Bill Donovan.  Donovan was the man Franklin Roosevelt tapped to be his spymaster in WWII - who created the first national intelligence agency in the U.S.  Donovan is descrived as an exciting and secretive general who introduced this nation to the dark arts of covert warfare on a scale never seen before.

Diane Chamberlain's latest novel is more of a summer beach read, "The Midwife's Confession".  The 'story of friendship and the corrosive power of secrets'.  Booklist wrote "The frankness of each scene and character should grab readers and keep them eagerly turning pages right up to the startling climax."

Dr. David Anderegg is the author of the newly updated book "Nerds:  How Dorks, Dweebs, Techies and Trekkies Can Save America *And Why they Might Be Our Last Hope".  Here's a cool Nerd quiz you can take:

The Last Nerd Self-Test You’ll Ever Need!

1. Are you sometimes so enthusiastic about your interests that you get carried away, and lose your self-consciousness in your passion for your subject?

2. Do you believe that people can be beautiful and smart at the same time?

3. Do you sometimes get interested in a book or a hobby that’s really difficult to get into, but you do it anyway because it seems like such a cool thing to learn?

4. Do you like precision or exactitude, maybe even so much that a right answer is an aesthetically pleasing experience?

5. Do you find tracking what’s fashionable just a teensy bit boring?

6. Do you admire people who are very knowledgeable even if their topic is a little arcane?

7. Don't you just love the word “arcane”?

8. Do you enjoy vivid imaginative accounts of alternatives to mundane reality?

9. Are you comfortable with the fact that Harry Potter wears big spectacles and is also a big athletic hero?

10. Do you find anti-intellectualism just a little bit….stupid?

If you answered yes to all of the above, award yourself 100 points. You win! You are a big fat cool American post-nerd. You are totally comfortable with yourself because you have finally moved beyond the ridiculous social categories of middle school! If you scored less than 100, however, or even if you did score 100 but have friends who are still living in the Dark Ages, you need to read my new book, NERDS: How Dorks, Dweebs, Techies, and Trekkies Can Save America...and Why They Might Be Our Last Hope.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

MN's Louis Jenkins poem read at the Tonys

MN poet Louis Jenkins had a sort of mention at the recent Tony awards.  Mark Rylance won a best actor Tony for "Jerusalem" and for the second time, instead of a speech, he recited a Louis Jenkins poem.  Except he didn't SAY it was a Louis Jenkins poem.  I wonder what Louis Jenkins thinks of that?  I just sent him an email... I'll let you know if he responds back!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Good Luck Envelopes!

This week on Realgoodwords I get the chance to talk with Minnesota poet Sharon Chmielarz again.  Sharon had 2 books of poetry published this year "Calling" and "The Sky is Great The Sky is Blue".  Poet connie Wanek said of "The Sky is Great The Sky is Blue":

"These are astonishing poems.  Like Szymborska's, the poems are spare, often subversive, both dark and hopeful; a conscience is at work in them.  like Dickinson's, they breathe."

In my conversation with Sharon she talked about what it is like to get her poetry out into the world, "When I send off a submission like when you're sending off to magazines, I always wish my envelopes good luck (and the poems too!) because they're traveling over the mail and they're going into this office where I would be very nervous to go by myself - and they face this terrible judgment on the other end.  YES or NO.  Go to the right, or left...."

Sharon is one of the many writers that I get to talk to for Realgoodwords on KAXE.  Also featured this week is the legendary performer Andy Williams who will be part of this year's Judy Garland festival in Grand Rapids.  Andy's memoir is "Moon River and Me".  Where else but KAXE will you get such diverse programming - people getting the chance to tell their stories.  How do we do it, week after week?  We do it because people listen and people support this community radio station.  If you aren't a member, I hope you'll consider it today.  218-326-1234 or 800-662-5799. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fish or Cut Bait

Heard that phrase before?  Want to take it on as your own?  Me too. 

In some ways, Fish or Cut Bait describes this week's Realgoodwords where I talk with authors Ellen Airgood and Jim Proebstle.  Proebstle is a northern Minnesota summer resident who has published a novel based on true events "Fatal Incident".  He tells us the true life story and fictionalizes the reasonings and endings that were never uncovered before.  In 1944 there was a crash in Alaska's Mount McKinley range that killed 20 people.  The pilot, Nick, is a pilot for the Army's ATC in Alaska.  In real life, the bodies and the documents surrounding this crash were never found.  It's fascinating because Alaska was a strategic defense position against Japan as well as a lend-lease exchange location for Soviet pilots in support of Russia's war with Germany.  Mix in a possibility of a plot to steal the U.S's top secret atomic bomb designs and you have what William Kent Krueger calls "a hell of a good read".  Fish or Cut Bait here is the fortitude of the brothers who are pilots in the book, as well as the central love story that is woven throughout between Nick and Martha.  Jim Proebstle will be at the Village Bookstore in Grand Rapids on Saturday June 18th from 11-2. 

Ellen Airgood of Grand Marais, Michigan has just published her debut novel "South of Superior".  It's based loosely on the town where she lives.  I asked Ellen to tell me more about why she settled in Michigan's U.P. 

"I came here camping with my sister in the national park near by and on a rainy day we drove into Grand Marais rather than hike.  We ate lunch and I picked out what I thought was the quaintest place to eat and I ended up marrying the cook and I've been here ever since.  I married him six months after I met him which was very crazy but twenty years later here we are and we've made a very good life together here. 

But there have been a lot of challenges in so many different ways and you will find that anywhere in life I think but I just happened to find it here.  I decided at some point along time ago to fish or cut bait and to pay attention to what I had.  I found it to be really wonderful.  But I did fall abruptly in love with the place and the person and really could tear myself away.  And even in the hardest of tiems I never ever wanted to leave here.  There's something about it that's magical as well as being very real and very difficult." 

Fish or Cut Bait.  I admire it in life and I admire it in my reading.  Tune in to KAXE this week for my conversations with Jim Proebstle and Ellen Airgood.  Or check the audio archives of Realgoodwords

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bemidji Library Book Festival June 13th-18th

Cool literary events happening in our listening June 13th-17th.... The event is put on by the Kitchigami Regional Library System and made possible by a grant from the MN Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.  Here's the lineup/information:

Monday June 13th:

Phyllis Root author of children's picture book "The Big Belching Bog" 10:30 Bemidji Library

Sandra Benitez author of "The Night of the Radishes" "The Weight of Water" and more 2pm Headwaters School of Music & The Arts

Todd Boss poet and author of "yellowrocket" 7pm American Indian Resources Center, BSU

Tuesday June 14th:
Mary Casanova children's author of many books including "Some Dog"  10:30 am Bemidji Library
Cynthia Kraack 2pm Headwaters School of Music & the Arts
Linda Grover 7pm Am. Indian Resource Center BSU

Wednesday June 15th
Catherine Friend author of "Sheepish:  Two Women, Fifty Sheep & Enough Wool to Save the Planet" 10:30 Bemidji Public Library
Catherine Friend 2pm Diamond Point Park
Colin Wesaw 7pm Am. Indian Resource Center, BSU

Thursday June 16th
Lynne Jonell 10:30pm Bemidji Library
Roy C. Booth 2pm Rail River Folk School
Heid Erdrich 7pm American Indian Resource Center BSU

Friday June 17th
Don Houseman 10:30am Bemidji Public Library
Julie Schumacher 2pm Headwaters School of Music
Author Fair 5-7pm Bemidji High School
Roxana Saberi 7pm BHS Auditorium (Keynote Author)

Saturday June 18th
Susan Marie Swanson 10:30am Bemidji Library

All events are free and open to the public.  Check Kitchigami Regional Library's website for more info. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This week on Realgoodwords

Check out the video for young adult author Gayle Forman's "Where She Went" - it's been called "achingly satisfying" by Family Circle. Also MN Book Award winner Bonnie J. Rough and her memoir "Carrier: Untangling the Danger in My DNA".

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

This week on Realgoodwords

Tune in tonight for KAXE's weekly book program, Realgoodwords with Heidi Holtan. She'll talk with author Jael McHenry about her new book "The Kitchen Sister". After the unexpected death of her parents, shy and sheltered Ginny Selvaggio, a young woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, seeks comfort in family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen: the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning—before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish. Also Pulitzer Prize winning writer Geraldine Brooks and her novel "Caleb's Crossing" about the life of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College in 1665. And local author K.L Malmquist drops by to talk about his second novel that's out, "The Unraveling".

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

River Jordan and Juliette Fay

This week on Realgoodwords: River Jordan and "Praying for Strangers" and Juliette Fay's "Deep Down True"... about a woman facing huge change in her life, change that can sometimes send her reeling back to the feeling of middle school.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

reading on planes, trains and busses

I recently got back from a marvelous trip to Spain. It was a quick trip that involved a lot of different modes of transportation - and for this reason, the books I chose to bring were not chosen lightly. What books to bring on a trip (even if it's just to Duluth) is never an easy or quick endeavor. For the European trip I had a couple of requirements: they had to be books I would be featuring on Realgoodwords in the future and they had to be compelling and keep me entertained. I've learned over the years that I can't choose books I SHOULD be reading or I think will look cool to others. Believe me, this doesn't work and makes you consider buying duty-free, which no one actually needs.

My first choices to bring were Matthew Logelin's "Two Kisses for Maddy - A Memoir of Loss and Love" and River Jordan's "Praying for Strangers - An Adventure of the Human Spirit". Right off the bat, I couldn't take Matthew Logelin's book with me.

I couldn't put it down as soon as I picked it up and finished it before the trip even began. Therein was my next problem. What would the OTHER book be that I brought on my trip?

But first, let me tell you about "Two Kisses for Maddy" and why I couldn't put it down. It's a terrible story. Terrible because it's Matthew Logelin's real life story of losing his wife, right after his daughter was born. But the book and Matthew's writing is compelling. It's raw and it's real and I didn't want to stop reading it. And there's joy as well as sorrow in his story and it really gives you hope that even if you face the suckiest of suck predicaments, there's a sliver of hope out there. I promise you, you won't be able to put this one down.

So I'm back to my book quandry: I've got "Praying for Strangers" and what else to bring? I decide on a novel, Jael McHenry's "The Kitchen Daughter".

I read "The Kitchen Daughter" on the flight to New York and then from New York to Madrid. It didn't disappoint. We're in the age of celebrity chefs and cooking reality shows and though I'm interested in those things, sometimes novels with food as a focus feel a little like they are jumping on the bandwagon. Not "The Kitchen Daughter". In Jael McHenry's assured prose, she tells the story of a main character unlike one I've read before. Ginny Selvaggio is a woman in her twenties who has always lived with her parents. She's not easy to get close to - and that's because she's got undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome, and thanks to her mother and father, has had a happy, but sheltered, life. When her parents are killed in a car accident, Ginny's coping skills are pushed to the max. Food was always center to her life, but she comes to find solace in cooking recipes of relatives...and odd things begin to happen when the food is being cooked. It's an interesting book: a bit magical realism and a lot of strong characters.

In the middle of my trip, while we relaxed and enjoyed the small town of Salamanca, Spain, I began reading River Jordan's "Praying for Strangers - An Adventure of the Human Spirit." It was one of those books that was exactly the right book at the right time. It's River's story: having both her son's shipped oversees with the military (to Afghanistan and Iraq) she found herself making a resolution that she didn't really even understand. To pull herself out of her own situation - she decided to each day, choose a stranger and pray for them.
In Praying for Strangers, River Jordan tells of her amazing personal journey of uncovering the needs of the human heart as she prayed her way through the year for people she had never met before. The discovery that Jordan made along the journey was not simply that her prayers touched the lives of these strangers (in often astounding ways), but that the unexpected connections she made with other people would be a profound experience that would change her own life forever.
In a foreign country where I didn't speak the language, I found myself looking at people differently. Thinking about what their lives might be. And I started realizing how easy it was for me to be thinking of myself, all of the time. How did I look? What did other people think of me? And most of the time I barely paid attention to the people I was coming into contact with. Reading River's stories of all the people she met - the connections that were made - made me sit up and pay attention. I also liked that River's book wasn't prosletyzing a certain religion. She had no intention of making people believe what she believed. That wasn't the point.

Stay tuned for my conversations with all my book and travel companions in the upcoming weeks - Matthew Logelin, Jael McHenry and River Jordan. Realgoodwords can be heard on 91.7KAXE Wednesdays at 6pm and Sundays at 9am. If you miss it, check out the archive here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

2011 Minnesota Book Awards

The 2011 MN Book Awards are coming up on Saturday April 16th at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Downtown St. Paul.

Minnesota is a state that I'm proud to live in for many reasons - least of which is it's dedication to literature and books. Minnesota has many great independent publishers and one our greatest resources is its writers. Many of this year's nominees were guests this year on Realgoodwords and other KAXE programming.

During the month of March you can still vote for your favorite in the Minnesota Reader's Choice award here.

This week I feature my conversations with William Kent Krueger and David Housewright. They are both up for the award in the genre fiction category.

You can listen to the interviews I and other KAXE staff did with all of the authors I interviewed who are nominated for a MN Book Award this year:
-William Kent Krueger and "Vermilion Drift"
-David Housewright and "The Taking of Libbie SD"
-Julie Kramer and "Silencing Sam"
-Wendy Webb and "The Tales of Halycon Crane"

-Bonnie Rough and "The Carrier"
-Laurie Hertzel and "News to Me: Adventures of An Accidental Journalist"
-Chris Niskanen and Doug Ohman's "Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota's State Parks" (you can hear the 2 hour Between You and Me on State Parks that includes an interview/conversation with Doug Ohman)
-Jay Weiner and "This is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the MN Recount" (listen to Scott Hall's interview on the ampers.org site here)
-Michael Nordskog & Aaron Hautala's "Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition" You can see Aaron's essay and photos on the KAXE blog here....
-Anton Treur's "The Assassination of Hole-In-The-Day"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"I never go anywhere without a book to read"

That's what author Eleanor Brown told me. "Just in case you get stuck" she said. I can totally understand that, I'm always the one lugging around a couple of books with me, just in case.

That's the case with her book-loving main characters in "The Weird Sisters" her debut novel. Publisher's Weekly said "…bright, literate debut…a punchy delight…” You can hear our conversation here. She's my guest this week along with contemporary authors Jodi Picoult and Linda Francis Lee.

Jodi Picoult is the International bestselling author who has a new novel out called "Sing Me Home". It was great to talk with her about how the "Sing Me Home" had personal meaning to her. It's the story of Zoe, a woman who finds herself infertile and divorced and falling in love with someone she didn't expect. Liste to Jodi Picoult on KAXE here.

Also on this week's show is Linda Francis Lee and her new novel "Emily and Einstein - A Novel of Second Chances". It's a fun story that surprises the reader into believing a husband can become a dog and that even if you don't have a talking dog, life can be magical. Laura Francis Lee talks with Heidi here.

Do you make sure you have a book wherever you go? Or maybe that's a kindle nowadays? You can always hear conversations about books on Realgoodwords on KAXE - Wednesdays at 6pm and Sundays at 9am.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Are We Allowed to Fail?

Actor and writer Alan Arkin doesn't think so. I had the chance to talk to him this week about his new book "An Improvised Life: A Memoir". I asked him about being a founding member of Second City in Chicago. He had this to say:
We were allowed to fail. It was a completely exploratory environment where we were allowed to fail. Nobody's allowed to fail anymore at anything in any area of our culture or civilization. I don't think you learn anything without failing. I don't think it's possible. And we failed a lot and the audience didn't mind. They knew it was going to happen and so we grew. That's what it was like.
Tune in for our conversation on Realgoodwords - Wednesdays at 6pm, CST - Sundays at 9am,CST. You'll also hear our conversation on this week's Between You and Me as we talk movies.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by MN Author Kao Kalia Yang

I had a wonderful conversation today with MN author Kao Kalia Yang about the book that has been read by so many people, and has been chosen by the Grand Rapids Area Library as the "Rapids Reads" book. Kalia will be speaking about her book in Grand Rapids on Thursday March 17 at 7pm.

In our conversation we talked about language, both English and Hmong, and the art of storytelling. Kalia had this to say:
"My uncle asked me do you know what a storyteller is? And I told him yes, they are writers but in spoken words. He told me no, in order to be good you have to understand. That a story is a like a stop sign on the road of life. Its purpose is to make you pause, look both sides and check the trajectory of the horizon before you continue. I've always had a profound understanding that stories were the gift of life. It was what one person had to give to another and so I grew up surrounded by stories - in both Hmong and English."
She went on to tell me how different English and Hmong are to her:

"The English language never feels quite right. It is eternally breathless. It is always as if I am doing CPR to the language. But in Hmong, it flows beautifully in voice. The way I sound in Hmong, I believe, is the way I read on the pages in English. I think I write like a native. Very fearlessly. I write much better than I can speak because for so long I didn't speak. For 20 years of my life I was a selective mute. I prefer that (writing) medium any time any day. If we could do this interview in email or live chat it would be so ideal for me. Because I don't like the way I sound in English, even today...even right now.

When I speak in Hmong it feels like a song on my lips in English I feel so raspy and breathless. Hmong is a tonal language and every breath that I breathe in the world carries meaning. In English I have to trap the air in my lungs and units of meaning to make sounds to the bigger world. "
Hope you get a chance to hear our interview tonight (2/23) at 6pm or Sunday 2/27 at 9am. Or check the archived interviews.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Erin Hart & False Mermaid this week

I read a lot of books. That's what you might call an understatement. And I don't always remember the books I've read. That too is an understatement.

The other day someone asked me what some of my favorite books of 2010 were and I was stumped. Of course it was the end of the day on the last day of our Spring fundraiser. I'm hoping that had something to do with it.

But some books stay in my mind. Years ago I was a judge for the MN Book Awards in the genre fiction. Turns out that basically means mysteries. Though it was a lot of books to read in a short time, it tuned me in to some MN authors I had never read - like William Kent Krueger and Erin Hart. In the years since I read Erin Hart's "Lake of Sorrows" I've actually thought about the main character, Nora Gavin. And wondered if I'd ever get to hear from her again. (Yes, I wonder things about characters in books in my spare time. So sue me!)

So, as luck would have it, and by luck I mean the MN Arts & Cultural Heritage amendment - Erin Hart and her husband (Irish musician) Paddy O'Brien are doing a tour of the Kitchigami library system. For her new book. About Nora Gavin!

This one is called "False Mermaid" and the title is a connection of all the story lines in the book. A quick synopsis:
Nora Gavin remains haunted by a cold case that nearly cost her sanity five years ago: her sister Tríona's brutal murder. After failing to bring the killer to justice, Nora fled to Ireland, throwing herself into her work and taking the first tentative steps in a new relationship with Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire. She's driven home by unwelcome news: Tríona's husband—and the prime suspect in her murder—is about to remarry. Nora is determined to succeed this time, even if it means confronting unsettling secrets. As she digs ever closer to the truth, the killer zeroes in on Tríona's young daughter, Elizabeth.
For information on the Kitchigami Regional Library tour that begins this Thursday February 24th at the Brainerd Public library at 5pm see here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Christina Meldrum and Melicious tonight on Realgoodwords!!

It's the WE THE PEOPLE 91.7KAXE Spring Fundraiser and we're celebrating the community of Northern Community Radio. That means listeners, readers,or roller derby teams who make up the wide variety of people who support and believe in independent radio for northern Minnesota.

I'm super psyched right now - not just because I'm sitting at my desk in a derby skirt and leopard print tights with my rollerskates on. But because the night ahead is going to be great.

I'm talking to 2 authors on Realgoodwords tonight: Christina Meldrum and Melicious.

Christina Meldrum is an award winning novelist whose latest book is called "Amaryllis in Blueberry". It's the story told from the point of view of an entire family. Not only that, but the novel begins at the ending when the mother, Seena, is on trial for the murder of her husband. "Amaryllis in Blueberry" has been described as being in the tradition of novels like "The Secret Life of Bees" and "The Poisonwood Bible".

At 6:30 some of my teammates from the Iron Range Maidens will be joining me to talk to Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan about her memoir "Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track.". Melicious is a roller girl from Austin, Texas that was instrumental in the resurgence of roller derby. It's hot in northern Minnesota with the Bemidji team Babe City Rollers, the Duluth teams Harbor City Roller Dames and Duluth Derby Divas as well as my very own team, the Iron Range Maidens. Tune in for Melicious!

My teammates will be here to talk with Melicious and answering phones throughout the night On the River. Pledge for community radio! We're independent and we're on wheels! The only reason we get to bring you great programs like Realgoodwords is because you support it with your membership. 800-662-5799/218-326-1234 or pledge online, www.kaxe.org.

Copies of "Amaryllis in Blueberry" and "Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track" are available as a thank you gift for your membership of $60/year or above. Just let us know you'd like one when you call and pledge!!!

P.S. check out Doug MacRostie's documentary on the women of roller derby here.!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

History and The Brain in bestselling novels

This week two bestselling authors join me on Realgoodwords.

Jed Rubenfeld
is a Yale law professor whose first novel was an international bestseller. His new one is out called "The Death Instinct" and it's set around the terror attack on Wall Street on Sept. 16th of 1920. There are some amazing parallels to now - not just to the 9/11 attacks but to the economy and how the government dealt with the attack....

I'm also excited to talk with Lisa Genova again. I read her new novel, Left Neglected, a month ago or so, and still haven't been able to get it out of my mind. It's the story of Sarah Nickerson who is in a car accident that leaves her with brain damage that is termed left neglect.

“Genova is a master of getting into the heads of her characters, relating from the inside out what it's like to suffer from a debilitating disease. How she does it we don't know, but she does, and brilliantly.”

--Craig Wilson, USA Today

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mark Allister and Tyler Blanski on dating

Two Minnesota authors join me this week. Two men talking and writing about subjects they don't always address: DATING.

Mark Allister is a St. Olaf professor who will be at the Grand Rapids Area Library tomorrow (February 3rd at 7pm) talking about his book "Dated: A Middle-Aged Guy's Online Search for Love". Mark, after a 25 year marriage and raising 2 kids, finds himself on the internet, trying to figure out how to date, all over again.

Tyler Blanski is a Minneapolis house painter who is a writer and painter. His book is called "Mud & Poetry - Love, Sex and the Sacred". Tyler grew up a Christian - in a world where dating was not exactly allowed. As he grew up and began to connect with his own desire to connect with others, he began to explore both faith and sexuality. Blanski says that humans are both mud and poetry - living out of both biological and emotional needs... base desires and soaring aspirations. Phyllis Tickle said, "If only Saint Augustine had grown up blogging, he too could have written this book. Either way though, I'm pretty sure the good Augustine would resonate with Tyler Blanski's twenty-first century confessions."

I was struck by both of these men - talking about subjects that aren't openly discussed. Both were thoughtful and sincere in their quest to find connection in the world.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

MN authors on this week's Realgoodwords

Molly Hootch Hymes joins me this week to talk about her memoir, "Molly Hootch: I Remember When - Growing Up on the Kwiguk Pass of the Lower Yukon River". Molly is a Yupik Eskimo who grew up in the village of Emmonak, Alaska. She's lived in Bemidji for the last 30 years and has finally put on paper the stories of her childhood. Molly especially respected her father and as she puts it, "how he could make ANYTHING out of nothing". The family lived a subsistence lifestyle. Molly Hootch's name became well known later in her teens. The "Molly Hootch Case" was a peition to bring hometown high schools to rural students in Alaska instead of being shipped off to boarding school.

The other MN author I feature this week is Catherine Holm of Cook. Catherine's new book of short stories published by Holy Cow Press in Duluth is called "My Heart is a Mountain - Tales of Magic and The Land". It's gotten great reviews including Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert Olen Butler who said, "Catherine Holm writes with great and winning assurance and with nuanced compassion. My Heart is A Mountain is a truly lovely book by a fine writer."

One of my favorite stories in the book is the final one called "Farmwoman". It's sad, but it really shows how land and what you do with and tend to on your own land comes to define you. When you lose that land it's hard to have the same identity.

Catherine Holm will be at the Lyric Center for the Arts in Virginia for Monday February 7th at 6:30pm. She'll also be signing books at Howard Street Booksellers in Hibbing on Wednesday February 9th from 2-3:30pm.

Check out the RealgoodArchive for past author interviews on Realgoodwords.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

this week's authors

This week's Realgoodwords featured conversations with Beth Hoffman, Koren Zailckas and Thurston Clarke. The topics are varied - Beth talks with us about her feel-good bestselling novel that's out in paperback now "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt". I say feel good in the best sense... it's not light, there's a definite weight to the story, but you leave it feeling good about what people have the capacity to do for each other.

It's funny, because Koren Zailckas' memoir "Fury" while it's not the opposite of "Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt" it made be feel pretty empowered. It's about how we, especially as women, express or depress our anger. She brings up the question of "is it okay to feel anger? to show anger?" It's weird, because after the conversation I went home and felt angry all night, got it out, and feel SO much better tonight. I didn't stuff my emotions in, I didn't overeat, I was just angry. And I talked about it. And then moved through it.

And on a completely different note, this week Scott Hall talked to Thurston Clarke in honor of the anniversary of one of the most famous speeches in America - JFK's "Ask Not" speech. Scott said to me, "have you read it? It's a really well written speech. And not that long. It's like a fine piece of literature." Thurston Clarke's book is called "Ask Not: The Inaguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed the World".

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bullying this week on Realgoodwords

Rosalind Wiseman has written on the subject of bullies before, in her bestselling book "Queen Bees & Wannabees" that the movie "Mean Girls" was based on. This time, she's written a novel for young adults. It's called "Boys, Girls & Other Hazardous Materials".

Tina Fey wrote of the new book, "Rosalind Wiseman once again writes with humor, compassion and accuracy about the high school experience. The real-life situations she presents are like watching a train wreck if that train were made out of text messages, make-out parties, and benzoil peroxide, and if train wrecks were surprisingly funny, which they are not. You can't put this book down...or it will talk about you while you are out of the room."

She, along with thriller writer Kathy Reichs (with her first book for young adults "Virals") and local author Duane Schwartz are my guests on this week's Realgoodwords. Check out this video from Rosalind Wiseman.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kim Edwards and "The Lake of Dreams"

Lucy, the main character in Kim Edward's new novel "The Lake of Dreams" thinks of a *Mary Oliver poem as her family's history and her future is cracked wide open. It is "What is it you plan to do/With your one wild and precious life?"

And that, that connection of a line from a great poem quoted by a fictional character in a contemporary novel that weaves the past and future of a family seamlessly is what it's all about. Because even though I am immersed in the novel, when I leave the book it stays with me. It makes me think. It makes me question what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life. And it makes me think about some of the stories of the people that came before me in my family. Especially, my great-great aunt Tilly.

Tilly has been on my mind again lately. I am the keeper of her chair as well as her postcard collection. Tilly and her husband Art never had children, and thru the briefest of stories on the backs of these hundreds of postcards she received from 1904-1911 I have gotten to know her a little bit. I have wondered how or if our lives are woven together.

Do I know the answer to that? Do I know the answer to what I will do with this one wild precious life of mine? No. But I like the questions. And the possibilities. And the book that made me think about them.

Kim Edwards is my guest this week on Realgoodwords. Hope you get a chance to hear it!

*The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?