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Writers on the Air: Conversations About Booksby Donna Seaman
Synopses & Reviews
Culled from Donna Seaman's Chicago radio program, Open Books, this collection of interviews highlights Seaman's in-depth conversations with writers of literary fiction and creative nonfiction. A wide range of topics are discussed, including writers' inspiration, their favorite books, their working and research habits, and their opinion of the state of literature today. An introductory essay accompanies each interview and provides a brief biographical and critical discussion of the author's background and work. Interviews with Margaret Atwood, T. C. Boyle, Sandra Cisneros, Jamaica Kincaid, Chang-rae Lee, Alice McDermott, and Joyce Carol Oates are among those included.
"In this collection of interviews drawn from her Chicago radio show, Open Books, Seaman shows herself to be a consummate book lover, engaging everyone from first-time novelists, such as Julia Glass and Edward P. Jones, to old hands like Peter Carey, T.C. Boyle and Margaret Atwood. Although she has a tendency to fall back on plot or the basics of character and doesn't always let a conversation grow organically, there are times — as in a wonderfully thoughtful interview with Chitra Divakaruni and an odd and funny dialogue with the comic strip artist Lynda Barry — when Seaman allows the writers to wax philosophical. Focusing heavily on novelists, this volume gives a refreshingly various portrait of both the writers' personalities and the writing process, which ranges from organized and disciplined to scattershot. While devotees of what longtime Booklist editor Seaman calls 'serious literature' (as opposed to 'popular fiction,' a distinction she comes back to time and again) and followers of particular writers will find much to admire here, the book suffers from its translation from spoken word to print. On the page, the interviews lose the intimacy radio confers, that sense a listener has of being invited into a conversation, sharing a small confidence. (Sept.) Correction: The publisher of Jed Perl's New Art City (reviewed last week) is Knopf, not Simon & Schuster." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Insightful collections of interviews with authors abound, but none I have read is superior to Seaman's collection." San Francisco Chronicle
"Seaman does not merely question her subjects — she engages them with her infectious enthusiasm and opinions, challenging them to articulate their methods, influences, and aesthetic judgments." Library Journal
"Seaman is both passionate and generous on the air, and such caring tends to untie authorial tongues." Chicago Sun-Times
Vibrant interviews from the radio program, Open Books
Writers on the Air brings to print for the first time Donna Seaman's vibrant author interviews from her Chicago-based radio program, Open Books. In these conversations, authors discuss their inspirations, their favorite books, their working and research habits. Seaman also connects the author's books with other writing, creating “constellations” of related books and ideas to introduce readers to wonderful writing they might not discover on their own.
Seaman created her radio show Open Books in 1994, and has been co-producer and host ever since, conducting interviews with dozens of fiction writers, poets, essayists, memoirists, and nature writers.
Writers on the Air includes interviews with Diane Ackerman, Margaret Atwood, Lynda Barry, Madison Smartt Bell, Dennis Bock, T. C. Boyle, Peter Carey, Sandra Cisneros, Wade Davis, Chitra Divakaruni, Stuart Dybek, Julia Glass, Lee Gutkind, Aleksandar Hemon, Edward Hirsch, Edward P. Jones, Ward Just, Jamaica Kincaid, Alex Kotlowitz, Chang-rae Lee, Alan Lightman, Phillip Lopate, Barry Lopez, Alice McDermott, Anchee Min, Sy Montgomery, Kate Moses, Joyce Carol Oates, Alex Shakar, Paul West, Colson Whitehead, and Terry Tempest Williams.
About the Author
Donna Seaman is an associate editor and reviewer at Booklist and the editor of In Our Nature. She is the creator and host of the radio show Open Books, a public affairs program on WLUW, Loyola University Chicago's community radio station. She lives in Chicago.
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