WYSO

Vick Mickunas

Host - Book Nook

Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them.  Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.

Ways to Connect

Have you ever considered writing your memoir? Have you had an interesting life? Do you believe you can express yourself in print in a compelling way? And what if you had to illustrate every chapter of your memoir with a painting that you created to depict the events that you were describing? Now that would be difficult, wouldn't it?

If you have been listening to this program for a while you know that I'm quite fond of a good detective novel. "Burn What Will Burn" by C.B. McKenzie is one of the more unusual detective novels that I have read lately because it has the detective novel vibe but there really are not any detectives involved.

 

The first time I heard the name Studs Terkel it caught my attention. Such a distinctive name. My father was talking about him. Dad was from Chicago and that is the city that will always be associated with Studs.

Over the years Studs Terkel became one of my heroes. He was a perceptive interviewer, writer, historian, radio host, progressive, public intellectual, and raconteur. I never dreamed that one day I would be interviewing the great interviewer himself.

Readers love to try to pigeonhole books and authors. So do reviewers. We seem to need to have some points of reference. Someone will claim that a writer is like Hemingway or Faulkner or heaven forbid, Cormac McCarthy. They want to have definable genres that people can recognize. This novel is crime fiction. That one is chick lit. Or maybe this is grit lit? Chick lit veering into grit lit?

When we look back at the Civil War period of American History we often have a tendency to examine things that we consider to have been clear cut. For example; Ohio was a free state or Kentucky was a slave state. In his book "The Rivers Ran Backward - the Civil War and the Remaking of the Middle American Border" Christopher Phillips makes the case that things were not really like that in the border states between the Union and the Confederacy. Rather than divisions that could be described as black or white, slave or free, there were infinite shades of gray (and blue).

Over the years that I have been hosting this program I have witnessed a lot of changes on the book publishing landscape. Technology has had an impact. Electronic books are now popular. Almost anybody can publish a book now if they want to do so.
 

Book publishing has been going through consolidations. Back in the 1990's there were many more authors who went out on book tours. We used to get several passing through the WYSO studios each week for live interviews. Those days are gone.

Kent Haruf was one of the great American novelists that you might have never heard about. Haruf took a long time writing his books and he didn't even get published until late in life. His first book "The Tie that Binds" came out in 1984. That was followed in 1990 by "Where You Once Belonged." That second book only took him six years to write but he felt like he had to rush because he needed the money. He was so unhappy with it that before it even came out he wrote his editor a letter delineating all the flaws he felt were in it.

Quite some time ago I recognized that I will never be able to read all the books I want to read. That doesn't mean I have stopped trying. One thing that really excites me is the prospect of discovering new books and new writers. The other day I had the opportunity to talk to Flynn Berry about her novel "Under the Harrow." The book just came out. It is her debut novel.

Michael Goldfarb has had a distinguished career as a journalist. Recently he returned to Ohio to work on a documentary for the BBC. Michael was interviewing Ohioans who are independent voters so that he could hear their opinions in regard to our upcoming presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Alan Furst is often cited as the current master of the historical spy novel. I just read his latest, "A Hero of France," and I was shocked. His last several books have been fabulous. This new one is a real dud. Perhaps his bright star is dimming? I hope not.

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