William Nicholson talks about his new novel, AMHERST. It’s about the passionate affair between Emily Dickinson’s brother Austin and Mabel Todd. And later we re-air part of our 2007 interview with Debby Applegate about her biography of another 19th century figure associated with Amherst, Massachusetts: fiery evangelical preacher Henry Ward Beecher. Her book is THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN AMERICA. Continue reading
Ellen Cooney talks about her newest novel, The Mountaintop School For Dogs. It’s a mystery about an unusual and redemptive rescue operation. We also replay our conversation with animal behaviorist Vint Virga about his book, The Soul of All Living Creatures: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human.
We use the word “humane” to describe behavior that is compassionate and caring. But maybe we should use something like “canane” instead or, yes, even “felane.” Because, can we really hold up humans as exemplars of such behavior? Maybe we need to act more like our companion animals act toward us. If more of us treated them as well as they treat us, we’d have a lot fewer traumatized, abused and neglected animals. We also might have fewer traumatized, abused and neglected humans.
Ellen Cooney ponders these questions in her new work of fiction, The Mountaintop School For Dogs And Other Second Chances. Wrapped within a kind of mystery novel is an exploration of our relationship to the animals who share our lives. What happens when things go wrong, either through misunderstanding or evil intent?
Cooney’s protagonist is a young woman who has been through some traumas of her own. Answering a mysterious ad in the paper, she finds herself in the midst of a unique rescue operation for abused dogs. What she learns there not only changes the lives the animals she has come to help, but her life, as well.
Ellen Cooney is the author of numerous previous novels, including Lambrusco, which we spoke about with her in 2008. She lives in Maine with her canine companions.
We love our cats and dogs and thrill to the sight of wild animals. But we tend to forget that we are animals ourselves — and thus share our fragile planet with what are really our cousins in the animal kingdom.
Veterinary behaviorist Vint Virga says that other animals have much to teach us about being human — not just the biological traits we share, but also other qualities like resilience, compassion and being present in the moment.
Virga draws on his 25 years of working with both domestic pets and zoo animals to explore these themes in his thoughtful and moving book The Soul of All Living Creatures.
Vint Virga has appeared as a featured guest on ABC World News, PBS Nature, and National Geographic Explorer. He is one of only 61 behavioral veterinarians in the US. The Soul of All Living Creatures won a Nautilus Book Award in 2014.
WV spends the hour with Indian-born novelist Thrity Umrigar, talking about her latest work of fiction, THE STORY HOUR (Harper Collins, August 2014) and her 2012 novel, THE WORLD WE FOUND. Also, we air a sneak preview from next week’s show: a conversation with scientist Paul Ehrlich about HOPE ON EARTH.
Robert Harris talks about his terrific new novel about the Dreyfus Affair and the whistleblower who blew it wide open: An Officer And A Spy. And Francine Prose talks about her new historical novel about France in the 1930’s: Lovers At The Chameleon Club-Paris, 1932.
M.P. Barker talks about her new historical novel for middle readers and above, Mending Horses. It’s a sequel to her wonderful first novel, A Difficult Boy. And then Ellen Bryson takes P.T. Barnum’s first circus as the setting to explore the outsider in all of us. Her novel is The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno. Continue reading
Jason Mott talks about his terrific debut novel, The Returned. It’s about what happens when loved ones who have died return to their families unscathed.
And world leaders are once again discussing climate change, this time at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. Meanwhile, the Phillipines is struggling to recover from supertyphoon Haiyan. We put climate change and conflict into context with Christian Parenti. We re-air our 2011 interview with Parenti about his book, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence.
Novelist and short story writer Russell Banks talks about his new collection of stories, A PERMANENT MEMBER OF THE FAMILY. And George Saunders just received the National Book Award for his story collection, TENTH OF DECEMBER. We re-play Writers Voice associate producer Drew Adamek’s February 2013 interview with Saunders in the second half of the show.
Ruth Ozeki talks about her acclaimed new novel, A Tale For The Time Being. It’s about a Japanese-American teenager, a Canadian-Japanese writer, and the time-twisting connection between them after the Japanese tsunami. And Gretel Ehrlich discusses her riveting new book, Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami.
Lois Leveen talks about the remarkable true story of Mary Bowser, a freed slave who became a Union spy right inside the Confederate White House. Her acclaimed new novel, THE SECRETS OF MARY BOWSER, is based on it. And Eve LaPlante talks about her terrific new book, MARMEE AND LOUISA. It’s about the powerful relationship between Louisa May Alcott and her mother Abigail. Continue reading
In the second episode in The River Runs Through Us, WV examines the life of Sojourner Truth and what she means to us. We talk with Jacqueline Sheehan about her novel about Sojourner Truth, THE COMET’S TALE; with historian Nell Irvin Painter, author of SOJOURNER TRUTH, A Life, A Symbol; and with Rachel Kuhn and Priscilla Kane Hellweg of the Enchanted Circle Theater about their musical play, SOJOURNER’S TRUTH: I Will Shake Every Place I Go To.
Our thanks to Mass Humanities for their support for this series.
Science fiction master Ursula K. Le Guin talks about her two-volume short story retrospective, just out from Small Beer Press: THE UNREAL AND THE REAL. And murder mystery writer Archer Mayor talks about writing police procedurals and his latest in the Joe Gunther series, PARADISE CITY. Continue reading
WV talks with two women writers of speculative fiction: Karen Thompson Walker talks about her acclaimed debut novel, AGE OF MIRACLES. It’s about what happens to one young girl, her family and her world when the Earth’s rotation slows down. And Kij Johnson discusses her new short story collection AT THE MOUTH OF THE RIVER OF BEES.