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Amitava Kumar's "Every Day I Write the Book" features interviews with an array of writers whose distinct work offers inspiring examples for students and academics alike, the book's pages are full of practical advice about everything from how to write criticism to making use of a kitchen timer.

Amitava Kumar is Helen D. Lockwood Professor of English at Vassar College and the author of numerous books, including "Lunch with a Bigot;" "A Matter of Rats;" "Nobody Does the Right Thing," and "Immigrant, Montana: A Novel."

“Everyone lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead?” These are the opening lines in the little green notebook Monica finds in the café she owns, lines that will change her life forever, in Clare Pooley’s debut novel, “The Authenticity Project.”

This green notebook, with the words “The Authenticity Project” scrawled across the front, will travel from the little neighborhood of Fulham in London, around the world to Thailand and back. As it does, it is passed into the hands of six strangers, who use the notebook to reveal their true selves. In the process, they are able to connect with people in real life.

Clare Pooley knows exactly what it’s like to hide behind a life that looks perfect from the outside. For twenty years she worked in advertising and also maintained the outward appearance of the perfectly happy wife and mother, all while obscuring the realities of motherhood and her drinking problem.

Pooley admits that sharing her truth with the public was terrifying, but it changed her life for the better, and soon she began to wonder: what would happen if everyone did the same? Thus, the idea for “The Authenticity Project” was born.

Being able to hold one’s head high and call oneself a writer is the goal of many a passionate storyteller. But how does one get published? And what happens after that? Critical or sales success (or being published again) is far from a foregone conclusion.

Courtney Maum is the author of the novels “Costalegre,” “Touch,” and “I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You.” She brings her personal experience and input and insight from many other accomplished writers to her new book, “Before and After The Book Deal;” an all-inclusive guide for writers about how to navigate and, importantly, survive the publishing world.

With chapters like “Getting and Right” and “Getting it Out There” and down-to-Earth sub-headings like “Can I stay in my corporate job without losing my creative edge?” and “My book sales are sluggish - should I crawl under a rock and die?,” Maum peels back the gauzy romantic curtain of a working author’s life - and replaces it with clarity and detailed advice.

“Before and After The Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book” was published by Catapult earlier this month, and Maum will be at Oblong Books and Music in Rhinebeck, New York on Thursday, January 23 at 6 p.m.

Hank Green is the CEO of Complexly, a production company that creates educational content, including Crash Course and SciShow. Green co-founded a number of other small businesses, including DFTBA.com, which helps online creators make money by selling cool stuff to their communities; and VidCon, the world's largest conference for the online video community.

In 2017, VidCon drew more than forty thousand attendees across three events in Anaheim, Amsterdam, and Australia. Hank and his brother, John, also started the Project for Awesome.

He joined us to talk about his debut novel "An Absolutely Remarkable Thing."

Alison Lurie, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, "Foreign Affairs," has published ten books of fiction, four works of non-fiction, and three collections of tales for children.

"Words and Worlds: From Autobiography to Zippers" gathers together her reflections on the writing life; fond recollections of inspiring friends; and perceptive, playful commentary on preoccupations ranging from children’s literature to fashion and feminism. Citing her husband’s comment to her that “Nobody asked you to write a novel,” Lurie goes on to eloquently explain why there was never another choice for her.

Harold Bloom in 1990
Jim Wilson / The New York Times

Harold Bloom, the eminent critic and Yale professor whose seminal “The Anxiety of Influence” and melancholy regard for literature’s old masters made him a popular author and standard-bearer of Western civilization amid modern trends, died Monday at age 89. Bloom’s wife, Jeanne, said that he had been in failing health, although he continued to write books and was teaching as recently as last week.

Bloom wrote more than 20 books and prided himself on making scholarly topics accessible to the general reader. But, he saw his career as a very simple and honorable one.

Professor Bloom was a frequent guest on this program. He would write me short complimentary notes asking if we could talk about his latest project or just about life in general. In truth, in a 45-minute conversation, I may only get 2-3 questions in. But, listening to him hold forth was always a pleasure.

Although he frequently bemoaned the decline of literary standards, he was as well placed as a contemporary critic could hope to be. He appeared on best-seller lists with such works as “The Western Canon” and “The Book of J,” and was a National Book Award finalist and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Harold Bloom spoke with us in 2015.

The 2nd Annual Albany Book Festival at the University at Albany will take place Saturday, September 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Events are free and open to the public and there will be books for sale.

The festival will include more than 100 authors and poets, including several nationally-known and best-selling writers, exhibits, writing workshops, and children's activities.

In Richard Russo’s latest, “Chances Are…,” a reunion on Martha's Vineyard reopens old mysteries and wounds for three Vietnam-era college friends. Russo is the author of eight novels, most recently “Everybody’s Fool” and “That Old Cape Magic;” two collections of stories; and the memoir “Elsewhere.” In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for “Empire Falls.”

This “Off the Shelf” edition of “The Book Show” was recorded at the Zankel Music Center on the campus of Skidmore College in partnership with Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Richard Russo’s new novel, "Chances Are...," is out today. In it, three sixty-six-year old men convene on Martha's Vineyard one beautiful September day, friends ever since meeting in college circa the sixties. They couldn't have been more different then, or even today.

Lincoln's a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey a musician beyond his rockin' age. But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend on the Vineyard in 1971.

Richard Russo is the author of eight novels, most recently "Everybody’s Fool" and "That Old Cape Magic;" two collections of stories; and the memoir "Elsewhere." In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for "Empire Falls."

Russo will join Joe Donahue to discuss the new novel, "Chances Are..," on Wednesday, August 21 at 7 p.m. at the Arthur Zankel Music Center at Skidmore College in an Off The Shelf taping of The Book Show presented by Northshire Bookstore.

Jesse joins us to talk about the self-publishing world today. Authors are taking publishing into their own hands using the self-publishing tools we now have. And (surprise, surprise!) this is what authors have been doing for a long, long time but the technology is changing.

Jesse Feiler is a developer, consultant, and author specializing in Apple technologies. He is the creator of Minutes Machine for iPad, the meeting management app, Saranac River Trail app a guide to the Trail that includes location-based updates as well as social media tools. As a consultant; he has worked with small businesses and nonprofits on projects such as fine arts, production control, and publishing.

Joshua Furst is the author of "Short People" and "The Sabotage Café," as well as several plays that have been produced in New York, where for a number of years he taught in the public schools. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he’s the recipient of a Michener Fellowship, the Chicago Tribune‘s Nelson Algren Award, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Ledig House. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.

His new book "Revolutionaries" leads readers on a long, strange trip through the heart of the sixties and beyond, as seen through the eyes of the revolution’s poster child.

Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen: "Wonder Park"

Upcoming:

  • "Urinetown" (Park Playhouse Production) - Cohoes Music Hall, Cohoes, opens Thursday 3/21 at 7 PM; runs through Sunday, March 31
  • Jon Collin (with special guests Parashi, Horse Apples) - The Low Beat, Albany, Thursday 3/21, 8 PM
  • Imagination Journey - Stanley Center for the Arts, Utica, Friday 3/22, 7 PM
  • Sanctuary: Carlos Casas, Chris Watson and Tony Myatt - EMPAC Concert Hall, RPI, Troy, Friday 3/22, 7:30 PM
  • Close Encounters With Music: Inna Faliks & Yehuda Hanani, “Troika a la Russe” - music of Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Scriabin - Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, Mass., Saturday 3/23, 6 PM
  • Spanglish Fly - MASS MoCA, Club B-10, North Adams, Mass., Saturday 3/23, 8 PM
  • Sister, Show Me Eternity featuring Sylvia Stoner, Anne Jennifer Nash, Sharon O’Campbell - deBlasiis Chamber Music Series, Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, Sunday 3/24, 3 PM
  • David Payne: An Evening With C.S. Lewis - Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Sunday 3/24, 3 PM
  • Golfstrom - Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, Sunday 3/24, 7 PM
  • Sarah Kessler: The Future of Work - NYS Writers Institute, Tech Valley Center of Gravity, 30 3rd St, Troy, Wednesday 3/27, 7:30 PM

New movies: "Us," "Gloria Bell," "Transit," "Cruel Intentions" (1999)

During his regular days in London, Kenneth Grahame sat behind a mahogany desk as Secretary of the Bank of England; on weekends he retired to the house in the country that he shared with his fanciful wife, Elspeth, and their fragile son, Alistair, and took lengthy walks along the Thames in Berkshire.

The result of these pastoral wanderings was his masterful creation of "The Wind in the Willows," the enduring classic of children's literature; a cautionary tale for adult readers; a warning of the fragility of the English countryside; and an expression of fear at threatened social changes that, in the aftermath of the World War I, became a reality.

"The Man in the Willows: The Life of Kenneth Grahame" is by Matthew Dennison; the author of several critically acclaimed works of non-fiction, including "Over the Hills and Far Away: The Life of Beatrix Potter."

Susan Orlean’s latest bestseller, “The Library Book,” is an investigation into a 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Central Library that consumed 400,000 volumes and damaged another 700,000. In addition to shedding light on what happened, it is a celebration for an institution she’s cherished since she was a kid.

Created and produced by the New York State Writers Institute, University Art Museum, and UAlbany Performing Arts Center in collaboration with WAMC Northeast Public Radio, the Creative Life series features leading figures from a variety of artistic disciplines in conversation with Joe Donahue about their creative inspiration, craft, and careers.

On Friday, March 1 at 8 p.m., Joe will be joined by Susan Orlean, author of the current New York Times bestseller, "The Library Book." A staff writer at The New Yorker for a quarter century, Orlean is the author of seven books, including "The Orchid Thief," an international bestseller that became the hit film "Adaptation."

On Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m., Orlean and co-host Sarah Thyre will present a live taping of their Earwolf podcast, "Crybabies" in the Sosnoff Theater at the Bard Fisher Center with guests Michael Ian Black, Karen Chee, and Gary Shteyngart.

Esmeralda Santiago, a founding mother of Nuyorican literature, was part of the University at Albany’s: The Creative Life: Conversation Series in the Fall of last year.

The eldest in a family of 11 children, Santiago came to the States from Puerto Rico at the age of 13. After eight years of part-time study in community colleges, she transferred to Harvard where she graduated magna cum laude. Santiago’s bestselling 1993 memoir, "When I Was Puerto Rican," was named one of the “Best Memoirs of a Generation” by Oprah’s Book Club. Her second memoir, "Almost a Woman" was adapted for Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. Her epic 2011 novel, "Conquistadora," set in 19th century Puerto Rico, was hailed as a “triumph” in The Washington Post.

The Creative Life series is a major arts initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center and University Art Museum in conjunction with WAMC produced with major support from the University at Albany Foundation.

This conversation was recorded on November 8th, 2018 at the University at Albany Campus Center Ballroom.

George Saunders is the author of eight books, including the story collections “Pastoralia” and “Tenth of December,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award. His first novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo,” was released last year and won the Man Book Prize.

The book visits the cemetery where President Abraham and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s son, Willie, has just been entombed. The other characters are the less-recently dead who encourage the boy to cross over. “Lincoln in the Bardo” is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. 

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling, award-winning author of sixteen novels. Her new release "Under My Skin" was named one of the most anticipated and top thrillers of fall 2018 by BookBub, Bookish, Library Journal, Booklist, PopSugar and CrimeReads.

It’s been a year since Poppy’s husband, Jack, was brutally murdered during his morning run through Manhattan’s Riverside Park. In the immediate aftermath, Poppy spiraled into an oblivion of grief, disappearing for several days only to turn up ragged and confused wearing a tight red dress she didn’t recognize. What happened to Poppy during those lost days? And more importantly, what happened to Jack?

Esmeralda Santiago is a renowned writer of the Puerto Rican experience and a founding mother of Nuyorican literature.

Santiago’s bestselling 1993 memoir, "When I was Puerto Rican" was named one of the “Best Memoirs of a Generation” by Oprah’s Book Club. In 2018, it was one of five finalists for the “One Book, One New York” community-wide reading project. Her second memoir, "Almost a Woman" received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and was adapted for Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. Her epic 2011 novel, "Conquistadora" received many praises in The Washington Post.

She will be in Albany, New York at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 8 at the University at Albany Campus Center Ballroom as part of The Creative Life Conversation Series.

The Creative Life series, a major arts initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center and University Art Museum in conjunction with regional public radio station WAMC, brings leading figures from writing, music, dance, choreography, visual arts, architecture, theatre, and filmmaking to the University for conversation with Donahue about their creative inspiration, craft, and careers.

Artist and author, Hudson Talbott, join us now to tell us about his new book, “Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art.”

It is a fascinating look at artist Thomas Cole's life and takes young readers from his humble beginnings to his development of a new painting style that became America's first formal art movement: the Hudson River school of painting.

Hudson Talbott depicts the immigrant artist falling in love with, and fighting to preserve, his new country.

Talbott has written and illustrated more than 20 children’s books, including Newbery Honor winner “Show Way,” ALA Notable Book and VOYA Honor Book “Leonardo’s Horse” (by Jean Fritz), and “We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story,” which was adapted into an animated film by Steven Spielberg.

Colson Whitehead’s novel "The Underground Railroad," tells the story of a runaway slave and re-imagines the pre-Civil War South. It won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book award and Whitehead was recently named The New York State Writer - one of the biggest prizes in literature.

This Saturday, September 29, The New York State Writers Institute presents The Albany Book Festival. A fun way to celebrate authors, books and readers, the Albany Book Festival will run between 10a.m. and 4p.m. at UAlbany's uptown campus. Kicking off with a dance party, the Albany Book Festival presents conversations on genres such as food, mystery, history, and memoirs of new Americans.

The festival will feature renowned authors Doris Kearns Goodwin, Walter Mosley, Khizr Khan, Gregory Maguire and many more.

Joining us today is Director of New York State Writers Institute Paul Grondahl and Co-Director of Grassroot Givers Mary Partridge-Brown.

Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney's office in Manhattan for more than two decades and is America's foremost legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. Her Alexandra Cooper novels are international bestsellers and have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Her new sleuth, Devlin Quick, takes inspiration from Nancy Drew. The first Devlin Quick Mystery is out now, it's entitled Into the Lion's Den. In the novel, someone has stolen a page from a rare book in the New York Public Library. At least, that’s what Devlin’s friend Liza thinks she’s seen, but she can’t be sure. Any other kid might not see a crime here, but Devlin Quick is courageous and confident, and she knows she has to bring this man to justice—even if it means breathlessly racing around the city to collect evidence.

Linda Fairstein will be at The Albany Book Festival at UAlbany on September 29. At noon, she will be part of a Middle Readers Mystery Panel in the Campus Center Studio West and an Adult Mystery Panel from 1:30 – 2:30 in the Campus Center Ballroom. 

Haystack Book Talks brings writers into conversation on a wide range of topics to celebrate ideas and discourse. Tucked away in the beautiful wooded hills of Northwestern Connecticut, Norfolk provides an intimate setting for the festival. Literary conversations are scheduled for October 13 and 14 in downtown Norfolk, CT.

We are joined by Haystack Book Talks founder Stephen Melville; Eliza Little, a member of the Haystack Book Talks executive committee and a post doctoral fellow at The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station; and Dawn Whalen, executive director of The Norfolk Foundation.

For well over thirty years, T. Jefferson Parker has been a legend in the mystery-thriller genre. C.J. Box called Parker “the poet of American crime fiction,” and Ridley Pearson noted, “There are few if any crime writers out there this good.”

Parker is perhaps best known for both his Charlie Hood and Merci Rayborn series, as well as over a dozen standalone thrillers. Last year, he began a new mystery series, starring San Diego–based private detective Roland Ford, a former Marine with deep ties to the Southern California community. Parker returns with "Swift Vengeance," the second book in his new series.

In "Swift Vengeance," Roland Ford is on the trail of a mysterious killer who is beheading CIA drone operators and leaving puzzling clues at each crime scene.

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe. Her latest is “Pieces Of Her.” It is her eighteenth novel and it will be produced for TV by the women who have directed and written for “Homeland,” “Mad Men” and “House of Cards.”

“Pieces of Her” asks: What if everything you thought you knew about your quiet, middle-age mother was wrong? What if she has spent the past 30 years hiding in plain sight? What if, when violence erupts at your local mall and a shooter goes on a rampage, the person who stops him, dead, is your mother? What if everything you thought you knew changed in an instant? “Pieces of Her” follows Andrea, a woman who thought she knew everything about her mother, Laura, until the moment she realized she didn’t, and their world unravels.

Aaron Thier’s new novel, "The World is a Narrow Bridge," is a darkly comic road novel about a millennial couple facing the ultimate question: how to live and love in an age of catastrophe.

Here’s the setup:  Young Miami couple Murphy and Eva have almost decided to have a baby when Yahweh, the Old Testament God, appears to Eva and makes an unwelcome demand: He wants her to be his prophet. He also wants her to manage his social media presence.

Equal parts hilarious and poignant, "The World Is a Narrow Bridge" asks: What kind of hope can we pass on to the next generation in a frightening but beautiful world? Thier’s previous novels include "Mr. Eternity" and "The Ghost Apple."

He will be at The Bookstore in Lenox, MA for a joint launch party with Sarah Trudgeon ("The Plot Against the Baby") at 5:30 tonight.

Curtis Sittenfeld is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels “Prep,” “American Wife,” and “Eligible.” Now in “You Think It, I’ll Say It,” her first collection of short fiction, she showcases ten stories that upend assumptions about class, relationships, and gender roles in a nation that feels both adrift and viscerally divided.

Rachel Kadish’s new novel The Weight of Ink is set in London. It is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect – one an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; the other an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

Philip Roth has died at the age of 85. The Pulitzer, National Book Award, and Man Booker International Prize-winning novelist first had success in 1959 with his short story collection, “Goodbye, Columbus.”  A decade later “Portnoy's Complaint” earned him great notoriety and a place in the American canon. His 1997 work, “American Pastoral,” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

We spoke with Philip Roth in 2008 when his novel “Indignation” was published. In this archival interview we talk about his career and process. 

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