Tuesday, the literary scholar Kirk Curnutt joins us to explore F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. It’s been called the American masterwork, but when it was first published, Fitzgerald’s crowning achievement saw mixed reviews and mediocre sales. Today, the tale of Jay Gatsby’s pursuit of Daisy Buchanan and high society sits near top of the bestseller list. Curnutt calls The Great Gatsby “verbal jewelry” and says it might have more in common with romance novels than we’re comfortable admitting.
Thursday on RadioWest, we continue our Local Music series with singer-songwriter Joshua James. A Nebraska native, James found both his musical inspiration and his urban-homestead-on-the-range when he moved to Utah a decade ago. He’s since released a number of critically-acclaimed records that showcase his vibrant sonic palette, incredible vocal range and diverse musical inspirations. James’ folksy indie Americana tunes are drawn from his life on the farm, where birth, growth, death, decay and harvest all tell their own stories.
In the early 1970s, Sixto Rodriguez, a poet-musician from inner-city Detroit, produced two albums. His producers thought they would be hits, but they were utter flops – in America, that is. In South Africa though, Rodriguez was bigger than Elvis or The Rolling Stones, and his albums provided the soundtrack for white opposition to apartheid. Filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul has documented Rodriguez’ unlikely fall and rise, and we're rebroadcasting our conversation with him about his film on Friday.
Thursday, the writer Peter Rock joins us to talk about his newest novel, The Shelter Cycle. It’s inspired by the true story of a Montana-based New Age sect called the Church Universal and Triumphant. Church members made extensive preparations for doomsday in the 80s and 90s. When the prophesied cataclysm didn’t occur, they were forced to live in a world they truly believed would no longer exist. Rock uses these facts to weave a narrative that explores how memory and the past continue to shape us, even when we think we’ve left them behind.