October 28, 2016

Podcast: “Homer the Hobo and Ulysses the Goat”

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Podcast: “Homer the Hobo and Ulysses the Goat”

Submitted for your appreciation, a third children’s story written and read by Michael Larrain for his young daughter, Wilder Kathleen The Rage of Pais Larrain. While the first two were focused mostly on Wilder’s magic loom, in this podcast we meet two new characters named after the poet Homer and his character Ulysses in “The Odyssey.” Some pretty famous ancient Greeks. Will they live up to their namesakes? Will they drink the lemonade? Will Ulysses take off wandering again? All these questions will be charmingly answered in the story which follows. If you haven’t listened to the preceding stories, they are here and here. We’re really quite pleased to be extending the definition and boundaries of the podcast with these readings. The fourth and last will appear next Friday. Please click on the arrow below to…

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October 26, 2016

Is “The Death of Books” Eminent? Nope!

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Is “The Death of Books” Eminent? Nope!

We often hear that people aren’t reading much these days. Is the death of books eminent? New research by the Pew Center points out that people are still reading paperback and even hardcover books – in fact, often preferring them to e-books. It startled me into recalling a conference I attended while still a book editor in publishing – I seem to recall 1981 as the year – entitled “The Death of Books.” Hah. People read books and e-books. More people are listening to audiobooks. We have many more choices in how we consume the stories between book covers, even as we discover more and more sophisticated ways to acquire information. Here’s an interesting article about how reading real books is still pervasive. And here’s another about the growing interest in audiobooks, which is why we podcast for…

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October 21, 2016

Podcast: Daddy Michael Reads Another Story He Wrote For Daughter Wilder

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Podcast: Daddy Michael Reads Another Story He Wrote For Daughter Wilder

I hope you listened to last week’s podcast of Michael Larrain reading his children’s story, “The Girl with a Loom in Her Room.” Why? Because it was charming and delightful and read so eloquently by the author who is, of course, Wilder Kathleen The Rage of Paris Larrain’s father. Now comes the second of three stories, “Heaven & Earth,” in which Wilder is back at work on her magical loom in her room. Her loom skills are emerging, and with them – a giraffe? And a homeless old gentleman named Charlie. And an apple orchard. And an adventure involving all three and a bit more as well. You won’t want to miss this continuation of the first story – and find out how it got its title. Please click on the arrow below to listen to “Heaven &…

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October 18, 2016

When Trouble Is Truly Worth It: Two YA Book Reviews

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When Trouble Is Truly Worth It: Two YA Book Reviews

Note: We welcome contributor Simran P. Gupta back to the Café with reviews of two new young adult [YA] novels. She’s not only a thoughtful literary critic and skilled essayist, but she’s opening an avenue into a literary genre which we haven’t given the attention it deserves. When Trouble Is Truly Worth It: Two Essential YA Novels To Help Ring in the School Year By Simran P. Gupta             The title of YA novelist Tony Wallach’s second book, Thanks for the Trouble, may have a sarcastic echo to it upon a first read. Upon reading the book, however, a wry and heartfelt tone emerges. The “trouble,” after all, is what forces the development of protagonist Parker Santé. Wallach’s story starts out as an enigma, through sullen, introverted Parker’s POV. A mute who prefers to spend…

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October 14, 2016

Podcast: A Father Reads His Stories to His Daughter

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Podcast: A Father Reads His Stories to His Daughter

Michael Larrain is a poet and novelist whose poetry has appeared before in the Fictional Café. We welcome him back, this time as a storyteller in the Podcast section of the Café. Our October offerings are devoted to three of Michael’s stories, created especially for his darling daughter Wilder Kathleen The Rage of Paris Larrain – yes, that is her real name – which he not only wrote but which he has recorded for her, and our, listening pleasure. The first is entitled “The Girl With The Loom In Her Room.” Click on the arrow to listen. * Michael Larrain was born in Los Angeles in 1947. He is the author of four collections of poems: The Promises Kept in Sleep, Just One Drink for the Diamond Cutter, For One Moment There Was No Queen, and How…

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October 13, 2016

Galerie ZonZon Presents The Fine Art of Isabelle Zutter

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Galerie ZonZon Presents The Fine Art of Isabelle Zutter

We’re delighted to have Daniele Maguet and her wonderful Galerie ZonZon in Brest, France, as an art partner with the Fictional Café. Every so often, Dany will suggest an artist whose work is going on display at her gallery for us to present here in the Café, and it is our pleasure this month to welcome Isabelle Zutter. She lives and paints in Montpellier, France, which is 10 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea. Although the city has roots back to the 1300s, it is a very hip place, home to three universities and a vibrant community of the arts. Isabelle has shared her artist’s statement with us: “My Mediterranean is in Montpellier, but it might as well be in Athens, Casablanca and Barcelona. The light and contrasts I play with rely on odors, sounds that we share…

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September 16, 2016

Podcast: “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, Episode 2

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Podcast: “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, Episode 2

Here we continue our September podcast of the Amazon/Audible audiobook, “It Can’t Happen Here,” with thanks to Amazon, Blackstone Audio, Inc. and the excellent narration by Grover Gardner. In this segment we see how Senator “Buzz” Windrip insidiously works toward becoming president from the perspective of Doremus Jessup, editor of a small-town Vermont newspaper. In case you missed last Friday’s first episode, it’s here. If you have any concerns about the sentiment of the American people or their feelings about the current presidential candidates, you owe it to yourself to listen to, or read, this novel. The Audiobooks version is available here on Amazon for a very reasonable price, or free if you take a one-month subscription.

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September 14, 2016

When Ghosts of the City’s Past Linger: A Review of “The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen,” by Simran P. Gupta

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When Ghosts of the City’s Past Linger: A Review of “The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen,” by Simran P. Gupta

Editor’s Note: With this book review, we take great pleasure in introducing Simran P. Gupta, a new and talented contributor to Fictional Café. Learn more about Simran at the end of her review. We hope to be seeing a lot more of her writing here at the Café! When Ghosts of the City’s Past Linger: A Review of “The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen,” by Simran P. Gupta Katherine Howe’s YA novel, The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen, is a perfect combination of spooky and romantic. The result is an equally enthralling and chilling story. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that Howe has written a love story in which one half of the equation is a ghost– yet she never says the word. As summer eases into autumn, this is a perfect book to…

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September 9, 2016

Podcast: “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, First Episode

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Podcast: “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, First Episode

In 1935, a well regarded novelist named Sinclair Lewis published a book entitled It Can’t Happen Here.  The story concerns a senator who is perceived as a man of, for and by the people. But when elected president, he reveals himself as a dictator and turns the United States into a totalitarian police state. This is a story which, 81 years later, still makes Americans cringe. Yet as we look toward the 2016 presidential elections, it’s hard to escape the fact that the Republican candidate frequently rings this bell. For further evidence of this view, read this op-ed from the Boston Globe by Joan Wickersham, “An eerily familiar fiction.” Once a stage play, the novel was never made into a movie. Fortunately, it was made into an Audible Audiobook, which we are excerpting here with…

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August 29, 2016

Emily Harstone says Writers Must Be Readers

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Emily Harstone says Writers Must Be Readers

There are essentially two schools of thought about how to become a writer. The older European school says read, read, read. The newer American school says, go to college – in particular a graduate creative writing program – and study to be a writer. Emily Harstone (a nom de plume) wrote the following article, “Why Writers Need To Read To Be Writers” for the AuthorsPublish website [if you’re a writer and you aren’t a member, you should be]. Following AuthorsPublish guidelines, here is an excerpt from Emily’s article. Go to the article link above to read it in its entirety. “When I was a child I read one book every day. And by a book, I mean a one hundred to two hundred page novel. Usually it was part of a series. Often it was nothing that would…

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