During the mid 1970's things were really heating up on the island of Jamaica. It had become chaotic. Violence was breaking out. Two political parties were wrestling for control of the government in a hotly contested election. The reggae star Bob Marley wanted to try to calm things down. He decided to do a concert in the hope of easing some of the tension.

Thomas Johnson has come to a crossroads in his career as a minister. The congregation at his church in a small Ohio town is in a bit of an uproar over Reverend Johnson's rumored relationship with a female member of his flock. He doesn't believe that he has done anything wrong but when he receives a phone call that provides him with a pretext to get out of town for a while he takes advantage of that opportunity to get away from it all.

The Dayton Peace Accords ended the war in Bosnia War in 1995 and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize was created as a response 11 years later. In this hour-long special, you'll hear speeches from authors who were honored for advancing peace through literature: Karima Bennoune, nonfiction winner for Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, Bob Shacochis, fiction winner for The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, and Louise Erdrich, winner of the Richard C. Holbroke Distinguished Achievement Award.

One hundred years ago President Woodrow Wilson was doing everything in his power to keep the United States out of the First World War. Wilson had experienced a miraculous ascent from virtual obscurity to claim the highest office in the land. His remarkable story has been meticulously researched and described by A. Scott Berg in his masterful biography "Wilson."

Roderick Kiracofe fell in love with quilts forty years ago. At the time he was living in SW Ohio. In his new book "Unconventional & Unexpected : American Quilts Below the Radar-1950-2000" he describes how he first became aware of quilts and how he then developed a passion for this under appreciated art form. Today he is one of our leading authorities on quilts.

Ann Hagedorn is a meticulous researcher. In her previous books she has tackled historical subjects which are now receding into history. Her latest book examines a topic that is so current that the story lines are shifting every day. In this interview you'll find out how hard it became to actually complete a book about issues that are constantly churning in a fluid fashion that is seemingly being updated and revised by the moment. Hagedorn immerses herself in her work. We were fortunate to have her come out to Yellow Springs to record this interview.

Here's my review of another knockout debut novel. This one ran recently in the Cox Ohio newspapers:

Following the economic downturn of 2008 Samuel Fromartz found that his opportunities to continue to earn his living as a freelance writer were dwindling. Undaunted, he turned his problem into an opportunity. Fromartz had a long standing interest in baking bread. In this interview he describes how he soon found himself in Paris searching for the best loaves, the tastiest baguettes that he could discover. He ate a lot of bread while he was in France. Later on he went there again to observe a baker who was making loaves the way they used to be made many centuries ago. 

Some of us read horror novels because we want to feel scared without having to worry about our fears. Then there's a genre of novels that are so gnarly and tough that they could make  readers scream. Our screams would be sympathetic ones because the characters in these stories can elicit our emotions. As they go about the gritty business of their tattered lives we might feel like screaming just to release some of the tensions these tales can build up. Sometimes life isn't pretty. We know that. That's why we read books about these kinds of things.

Now and then a book will come along that is so darned wonderful I can hardly believe it. Neverhome by Laird Hunt is just such a book. Here's my review that ran in the Cox Ohio newspapers:

One of the great pleasures that can be obtained from reading works of fiction are the joys of discovering books and writers that were previously unknown to us. Recently, an acquaintance of mine said that I might like a new novel called Neverhome by Laird Hunt. I had never heard of this writer.