Alison Rosenblitt

E.E. Cummings And The Great War – Ep 79 with Alison Rosenblitt

An incisive biography of E. E. Cummings’s early life, including his World War I ambulance service and subsequent imprisonment, inspirations for his inventive poetry.

E. E. Cummings is one of our most popular and enduring poets, one whose name extends beyond the boundaries of the literary world. Renowned for his formally fractured, gleefully alive poetry, Cummings is not often thought of as a war poet. But his experience in France and as a prisoner during World War I (the basis for his first work of prose, The Enormous Room) escalated his earliest breaks with conventional form?the innovation with which his name would soon become synonymous.

Intimate and richly detailed, The Beauty of Living begins with Cummings’s Cambridge upbringing and his relationship with his socially progressive but domestically domineering father. It follows Cummings through his undergraduate experience at Harvard, where he fell into a circle of aspiring writers including John Dos Passos, who became a lifelong friend. Steeped in classical paganism and literary Decadence, Cummings and his friends rode the explosion of Cubism, Futurism, Imagism, and other “modern” movements in the arts. As the United States prepared to enter World War I, Cummings volunteered as an ambulance driver, shipped out to Paris, and met his first love, Marie Louise Lallemand, who was working in Paris as a prostitute. Soon after reaching the front, however, he was unjustly imprisoned in a brutal French detention center at La Ferté-Macé.

Continue reading …
Christian B. Miller

Our Moral Character – Ep 78 with Christian B. Miller

We like to think of ourselves, our friends, and our families as decent people. We may not be saints, but we are still honest, relatively kind, and mostly trustworthy. Author and philosopher Christian B. Miller argues in his new book, “The Character Gap: How Good Are We?” that we are badly mistaken in thinking this. Hundreds of recent studies in psychology tell a different story: that we all have serious character flaws that prevent us from being as good as we think we are – and that we do not even recognize that these flaws exist. But neither are most of us cruel or dishonest.

Instead, Miller argues, we are a mixed bag. On the one hand, most of us in a group of bystanders will do nothing as someone cries out for help in an emergency. Yet it is also true that there will be many times when we will selflessly come to the aid of a complete stranger – and resist the urge to lie, cheat, or steal even if we could get away with it. Much depends on cues in our social environment. Miller uses this recent psychological literature to explain what the notion of “character” really means today, and how we can use this new understanding to develop a character better in sync with the kind of people we want to be.

Continue reading …
In Praise of Walking cover

In Praise of Walking – Ep 77 with Shane O’Mara

In this captivating book, neuroscientist Shane O’Mara invites us to marvel at the benefits walking confers on our bodies and brains, and to appreciate the advantages of this uniquely human skill. From walking’s evolutionary origins, traced back millions of years to life forms on the ocean floor, to new findings from cutting-edge research, he reveals how the brain and nervous system give us the ability to balance, weave through a crowded city, and run our “inner GPS” system. Walking is good for our muscles and posture; it helps to protect and repair organs, and can slow or turn back the aging of our brains. With our minds in motion we think more creatively, our mood improves, and stress levels fall. Walking together to achieve a shared purpose is also a social glue that has contributed to our survival as a species.

As our lives become increasingly sedentary, O’Mara makes the case that we must start walking again—whether it’s up a mountain, down to the park, or simply to school and work. In Praise of Walking illuminates the joys, health benefits, and mechanics of walking, and reminds us to get out of our chairs and discover a happier, healthier, more creative self.

Shane O’Mara is the principal investigator in the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, where his research explores the brain systems supporting learning, memory, and cognition, and the brain systems affected by stress and depression.

Continue reading …
Author Ellen Goodwin

How To Get things DONE – Ep 76 with Ellen Goodwin

DONE: How To Work When No One is Watching is a hands-on guidebook that teaches, through stories, examples, and activities how working with (and around) your brain, can make all the difference in what can be accomplished every day; the importance of being in action (and not motion); the best way to prevent obstacles from stopping you; how to easily build stronger and better habits; why it’s more important to manage you energy instead of your time, and why one-size does not fit all when it comes to productivity. It’s also kind of funny.

Ellen Goodwin is a Productivity Trainer, TEDx speaker, and author who uses neuroscience-based principles to enable individuals and businesses to overcome procrastination, build stronger habits, and be more focused so that they can be more efficient and effective with their time. When it comes to productivity, Ellen believes there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so she advocates for experimentation to find the tools and techniques that work best with your life and your business. She recently released her book, DONE: How To Work When No One Is Watching, and is the co-host of The Faster, Easier, Better Show podcast.


Continue reading …
Swing Kings

Baseball’s Swing Kings – Ep 75 with Jared Diamond

From the Wall Street Journal’s national baseball writer, the captivating story of the home run boom, following a group of players who rose from obscurity to stardom and the rogue swing coaches who helped them usher the game into a new age.

Swing Kings is both a rollicking history of baseball’s recent past and a deeply reported, character-driven account of a battle between opponents as old as time: old and new, change and stasis, the establishment and those who break from it. Jared Diamond has written a masterful chronicle of America’s pastime at the crossroads.

JARED DIAMOND has been the national baseball writer for the Wall Street Journal since 2017. Prior to that, he spent a season as the Journal’s Yankees beat writer and three seasons as their Mets beat writer. In his current role, he leads the newspaper’s baseball coverage. This is his first book.

Continue reading …
Disfigured Cover

Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space – Ep 74 with Amanda Leduc

If every disabled character is mocked and mistreated, how does the Beast ever imagine a happily-ever-after? Amanda Leduc looks at fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm to Disney, showing us how they influence our expectations and behaviour and linking the quest for disability rights to new kinds of stories that celebrate difference.

Amanda Leduc is a disabled writer and author of the non-fiction book DISFIGURED: ON FAIRY TALES, DISABILITY, AND MAKING SPACE (Coach House Books, 2020) and the novel THE MIRACLES OF ORDINARY MEN (2013, ECW Press). Her next novel, THE CENTAUR’S WIFE, is forthcoming from Random House Canada in the spring of 2021. She has cerebral palsy and lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, where she works as the Communications Coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), Canada’s first festival for diverse authors and stories.

Continue reading …
Lee Silber

Jimmy and the Kid – Ep 73 with Lee Silber

When a twelve year-old girl wants to play baseball with the boys, she’s lucky to have the help of Jimmy Parks, a former Major Leaguer and someone with the power to change her life forever.

Escaping to the empty baseball fields across the street from the military housing in which she lives, Billie is content to throw a ball against the wall, pitching imaginary games with no one around—until she meets Jimmy Parks, the man who maintains the fields.

Not only does the long-retired Major Leaguer teach Billie and her new friends how to play baseball the right way, he and the other older coaches also teach the team about life in this story of breaking barriers, and breaking through to do what you were always meant to do.

Lee Silber is an author who started self-publishing his books (with success!) in the 1990s, he then signed with Random House for four books, followed by St Martin’s Press, Career Press, and others to release a total of 20 books. Then, he went back to putting out his own books (winning several awards) including his latest title, “Jimmy and the Kid“.

Continue reading …
Liz Harmer and her book the Amateurs

The Amateurs – Ep 72 with Liz Harmer

The Amateurs” is a speculative novel of rapture and romance in the vein of Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood and Tom Perotta’s The Leftovers. In the near future, the world’s largest tech company unveils the “Port”, a personal time travel device. It becomes a phenomenon. But soon it is clear that those who pass through its portal won’t be coming back–either unwilling to return or, more ominously, unable to do so.

After a few short years, the population plummets. A small group of the one percent still remain in the present, having been left trying to rebuild a very lonely and dwindling world.

Liz Harmer is a Canadian writer living in Southern California with her many pets, three children, and philosopher husband. Her stories, essays, and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Walrus, Image Journal, the Globe and Mail, The Malahat Review, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. In 2014 she won gold in Personal Journalism at the National Magazine awards, after being awarded the Constance Rooke Award for Creative Nonfiction. In 2018 she was a finalist for the Journey Prize as well as appearing in Best Canadian Stories. Her debut novel, The Amateurs, released in 2018 with Knopf Canada, was a finalist for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Find Liz on Social Media and the Web:

Twitter

Instagram

Amazon

GoodReads

Continue reading …

A Flag of No Nation – Ep 71 with Tom Haviv

A meditation on world invention and collapse, A Flag of No Nation traces the stories of Turkish Jews in the 20th century, blind colonists in a white ocean, and performers enacting new rituals around a nationless flag. Through forms of storytelling that range from allegory to oral history, Tom Haviv investigates the history of Israel/Palestine and the mythologies of nationalism. A warning against imperfect dreams, and invitation to imagine something new, A Flag of No Nation reminds us how the act of remembrance can help us re-envision the future.

Tom Haviv is a writer, multimedia artist, and organizer based in Brooklyn and born in Israel. His debut poetry collection, A Flag of No Nation, is being published by Jewish Currents Press in the fall of 2019. His first children’s book, Woven, was published in the fall of 2018 by Ayin Press. He is also is the founder of the Hamsa Flag project, an international performance project designed to create conversation about the future of Israel/Palestine, Sephardi/Mizrahi culture, and Jewish/Muslim solidarity. He works with NYC-based community organization JFREJ (Jews for Racial and Economic Justice) where he is an active member of their Sephardi/Mizrahi Caucus.

Continue reading …
Michael Zapata

The Lost Book of Adana Moreau – Ep 70 with Michael Zapata

The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is the mesmerizing story of a Latin American science fiction writer and the lives her lost manuscript unites decades later in post-Katrina New Orleans.

In 1929 in New Orleans, a Dominican immigrant named Adana Moreau writes a science fiction novel. The novel earns rave reviews, and Adana begins a sequel. Then she falls gravely ill. Just before she dies, she destroys the only copy of the manuscript.

Decades later in Chicago, Saul Drower is cleaning out his dead grandfather’s home when he discovers a mysterious manuscript written by none other than Adana Moreau. With the help of his friend Javier, Saul tracks down an address for Adana’s son in New Orleans, but as Hurricane Katrina strikes they must head to the storm-ravaged city for answers.

What results is a brilliantly layered masterpiece an ode to home, storytelling and the possibility of parallel worlds.

Michael Zapata is the author of The Lost Book of Adana Moreau. He is a founding editor of the award-winning MAKE Literary Magazine. He’s also the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction; the City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist Program award; and a Pushcart Nomination. As an educator, he taught literature and writing in high schools servicing dropout students. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and has lived in New Orleans, Italy, and Ecuador.

Continue reading …