Alabama Story

Jan 8, 2015
Alexander Weisman

How could a children's story about two fluffy bunnies cause uproar? In 1958, author and illustrator Garth Williams published The Rabbits' Wedding, about a black rabbit and a white rabbit who love each other. Segregationists in Alabama, championed by a state senator, demanded the book be banned. But the state library director held her ground. The battle is at the center of a new play premiering at Pioneer Theatre Company. Thursday, playwright Kenneth Jones and others join us to talk about Alabama Story.

Two years ago, tragedy struck musician Lyndsi Austin and her family when one of her older brothers passed away. Many of the lyrics she wrote for the debut album of her band Big Wild Wings express her sense of loss. She says making music helped her cope with the grief. While Big Wild Wings tackles some heavy subject matter, the trio’s big, airy sound and Austin’s “angst-y angel” vocals have landed them in the local music scene spotlight. The band joins us Tuesday to play some songs and talk about them.

Blood Will Out

Dec 31, 2014

Doug is joined in studio by the writer Walter Kirn, whose latest book is the story of his friendship with a man he knew as Clark Rockefeller. Kirn found him charming, intelligent, if a bit eccentric, and he enjoyed rubbing elbows with someone well-off and upper-class. But it was a ruse, and the man was eventually exposed as a fraud, a sociopath and a murderer.  So how was Walter Kirn so handily duped? "Rockefeller" himself explained it this way: vanity, vanity, vanity. (Rebroadcast)

Image by Katherine H via flickr,

Well, Christmas day has finally arrived, a day for gifts and giving. We're hoping you can finally put the busy-ness and commercial hubbub of the season aside and settle in to enjoy our gift to you. Thursday on RadioWest, we've got two great holiday stories for your enjoyment: Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" and Ron Carlson's "H Street Sledding Record." (Rebroadcast)

The writer Anthony Doerr’s new novel All the Light We Cannot See tells the tale of a blind French girl in possession of a possibly cursed jewel, a German boy fascinated by radios, and their intersecting fates during World War II. For Doerr, it was a chance to explore the effects of war on children and his research for the book at times haunted him. Tuesday we're rebroadcasting a conversation with Doerr about his latest novel, his approach to writing, and about the profusion of miracles we encounter every day. [Rebroadcast]

After nine years of fighting to keep his prostate cancer at bay, numerous treatments weren’t working for writer Jeff Metcalf. Doctors told him his days were numbered and with that scary forecast ringing in his ears, Metcalf started “cleaning the garage.” He sifted through old handwritten journals, collected his thoughts, and resolved to write one essay every week for a year. Metcalf joins us Wednesday to talk about those essays, his battle with cancer, and how writing has helped him “pay the piper.”

Poet Mark Strand

Dec 5, 2014
Casa de América via CC/Flickr,

Mark Strand has been described as a poet of simple words. But his body of acclaimed work is playful and mysterious - a voyage through the sound of language. Strand died last weekend. He was a Pulitzer Prize-winner, a former US Poet Laureate, and he was regarded as one of the greatest poets of his generation. Strand joined us on the show back in 2007, and Friday we're rebroadcasting that conversation with a remarkable man and a truly gifted poet. (Rebroadcast)

Photo by <a href="">vintagedept</a>, CC via Flickr

Wednesday, we’re gathering local booksellers for our annual holiday book show. Betsy Burton of The King's English, Ken Sanders of Ken Sanders Rare Books, and Catherine Weller of Weller Book Works will join us to suggest titles that would impress even the finickiest on your list. As usual, we’ve got fiction and nonfiction and books for kids. We’ll also remember a few of the great authors we lost during 2014.

Monday, Iranian-American author Azar Nafisi joins us to talk about the state of literature and the humanities in the US. Using the great American works Huck Finn, Babbitt, and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, she argues the greatest danger to the literary arts is not a totalitarian regime, but the "intellectual indolence" of the public. Nafisi says it matters because literature is more than entertainment; it is a guide to a better society. Her new book is called The Republic of Imagination.

Wednesday, we’re talking about Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 novel “Dracula.” Historian Jim Steinmeyer says it wasn’t just folk legends that inspired Stoker’s creation. His book drew from popular theater of the day, from literary contemporaries like Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde, and even real-life headlines of Jack the Ripper. Steinmeyer joins Doug to talk about the monster Stoker made, and why Dracula remains an undead icon today.