By WGBH News | Tuesday, July 5, 2011
July 6, 2011
BOSTON — Now that the madness of July Fourth is behind us, it might be the best time for relaxing with summer reading. The Emily Rooney Show asked a slate of local luminaries — authors, critics and pop-culture personalities — to recomend the books they've been absorbed in lately. You can find some of their most notable picks below.
You can head here to listen to the whole discussion, and here to see the full list of picks.
Andre Dubus III, New York Times bestselling author of "Townie" and "House of Sand and Fog"
"The Hair of Harold Roux"
This now little-known book was the 1975 National Book Award Winner in Fiction, and it's just being re-released by Bloomsbury USA. Dubus wrote the introduction to the new edition, and he is ecstatic to see it back in print.
"Stephen King actually told me that he thinks it's the best novel he's ever read in his life, including Dickens," Dubus said. "I read the book a year ago; I still feel as though I read it an hour ago."
"The Oxygen Man"
Yarbrough is a novelist who teaches at Emerson College. Dubus described this novel, a story of race, class and hardship in a small Mississippi town, as a 300-page poem.
"They're a population of human beings that don't get near enough respect or attention in our culture, in my belief," Dubus said of the book's core characters, who exist at the margins of society. "Yarbrough writes about them with such dignity and compassion."
Tom Hamilton, bassist for Aerosmith, history buff and voracious reader
"In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin"
The author of the much-loved "The Devil in the White City," a novelistic account of a serial killer in the background of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, returns with the historical narrative of the family of U.S. Ambassador to Nazi Germany in the first years of Hitler's reign. The book follows the ambassador, William E. Dodd, and his daughter as they come to recognize the danger growing in Berlin.
"Everything was just being rebuilt, and reaccomplished. And then all of a sudden it just started getting darker and darker," Hamilton said. "Over the period of the book you find out how that enthusiasm turns into raw disillusionment and raw terror."
"City of Thieves"
This comedic novel follows a pair of young adults in the midst of the Nazi siege of Stalingrad in 1942. A Russian officer forces the two of them to find him a coveted carton of eggs, setting off a bizarre and tricky search.
"Like Dorothy with the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, just trying to deal with life as they go on this mission to try to find eggs for the Russian general," Hamilton said.
Steve Almond, author of "Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life"
(Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press, 2011)
"It's about a carwash 'host associate' who is crushed by a giant bear. And the novel takes place, I kid you not, in the final second of his life," Almond said. "I promised you total weirdness, Emily, and I am supplying it."
"But it's an absolutely brilliant, strange meditation on love and loss and how memory functions in our life." Almond pointed out it is likely the only novel you'll read on the beach that takes place within the span of a single second.
This memoir from the best-selling author of "High Fidelity" chronicles his personal relationship to a set of very specific, beloved songs. "It really revolves around the emotional experiences that people have when they listen to particular songs, the eras that they relive," Almond said.
Carlo Rotella, author of Cut Time: An Education at the Fights; director of American Studies at Boston College; columnist for the Boston Globe
"The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998)
A famous anthropological study of Lia Lee, daughter of a Laotian Hmong family living in California, who suffered from severe epilepsy.
Rotella described it as several books at once, so you can have a huge variety at your fingertips for your summer reading: "It's one book that's a family drama, a medical thriller, an immigrant narrative. It gives you a history of the Hmong people from pre-history through the Cold War."
This fantasy writer's latest installment, part of the "First Law" trilogy, is a dark and strange war story. "If you take J.R.R. Tolkien, and reverse the polarity of everything in J.R.R. Tolkien," Rotella said, you would end up with something like this trilogy. "They're sort of noir fantasy stories. In a lot of ways the opposite of that kind of J.R.R. Tolkien kind of noble, high-flown heroic fantasy."
Hank Phillippi Ryan, investigative reporter for 7News in Boston; award-winning author of the novel "Drive Time"
"I think this is perfect for the zeitgeist in Boston right now," Ryan said. "It is a murder mystery about hockey!" Set in a small Michigan town, the fictional Starvation Lake of the title, the novel follows an reporter who investigates the murder of the local hockey coach.
Gruley has often been compared to Dennis Lehane. "It is that kind of tone: that sort of bleak, personal tone," Ryan said.
"The Other Side of Dark"
With a plot concerning treasure hidden by an ex-slave trader and Frederick Law Olmstead's Emerald Necklace parks, this young adult novel comes right out of local history: "It's a really interesting — a little bit spooky, a little bit scary — look into Boston history." Ryan said. The protagonists are a young white girl and a young black boy who get drawn into a drama with the ghosts of the past. "It also is a really kind of straightforward story about the complicated racial issues that still linger here."
Kristan Higgins, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of seven romantic comedies, including "My One And Only"
"Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart"
"Summer isn't complete unless you have a romance novel on the beach," Higgins said. This one in particular is a romp around British high society, full of scandal, gossip and comedy. "It's a very heartfelt historical romance," she said.
"A Lot Like Love"
Another screwball romance novel, "A Lot Like Love" follows a businesswoman who is pressured by an FBI agent to give up information on her Mafia-connected associates.
By WGBH News | Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Steve Almond counts Marissa Nadler as one of the artists to listen to this summer.
June 28, 2011
Steve Almond, author of Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, and Stephen Thompson of NPR Music, joined The Emily Rooney Show to talk about their favorite summer music. With many holiday weekends throughout the year, there's often an undertone of melancholy or reflection. “What is so great about July Fourth weekend, is that sort of the unofficial motto of the weekend is: ‘Woooo!’” Thompson said. “It’s a perfect occasion to think about what makes great summer music.”
"I love summer music that kind of gives you that figurative kick in the pants that goes along with blowing something up," Almond added.
So here are a few of the critics' choices, some new and some classic, which they hope you'll keep in mind when you're thinking of fireworks — or whatever else you're up to this summer. And you can check out the full conversation and see more picks here.
“Always Like The Son” by Release the Sunbird, from “Come Back To Us”“ — The name of the band, which was recently started by the leader of indie rock band Rogue Wave, refers to a Robert Pollard song. But in any case, as Thompson said: "It sounds like a euphemism for something awesome.”
“Daisy” by Fang Island, from “Fang Island” — Thompson pointed to this one as a "Woooo!" kind of song. “The Go-Gos called, they want their handclaps back,” Almond added.
“It’s Time To Party” by Andrew W.K.from “I Get Wet” “ — "His first full-length record has three different songs containing the word party,” Thompson said. The song is “The kind of wonderfully, kind of overdriven, roll your windows down, blare the music as loud as you can, you can’t go wrong.” And, frankly, most of W.K.'s songs are incitements to party, so you really can't go wrong.
“Rolling In The Deep” by Adele, from “21” — “Just a record that everybody knows, but is a perfect summer song.” It's been a huge hit for many months already: it debuted all the way back in November. “Seems like it’s kind of taken its place as one of the big songs of this summer," Thompson said.
“Strawberry Letter 23” by Shuggie Otis, from “Inspiration Information” — "If you’ve got a group of people coming over for a barbecue, and you want that perfect choice, that perfect album to put on, that’s not too obvious — like for example the Adele pick I just made — and it’s gonna surprise a lot of people but everyone’s gonna love it.” Dating to 1977, Thompson says the song is a lost soul classic that's been recently rediscovered.
"Waterloo Sunset" by The Kinks, from "Something Else by The Kinks" — An old standby, from 1967, that Thompson said is possibly his favorite song of all time.
Steve Almond's Picks
“The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You” by Marissa Nadler, from “Marissa Nadler” — Nadler is an acclaimed singer-songwriter based in Boston, and this is the one of the singles from her latest album, just released this month. “Her voice is a winter, but the arrangements are summer," Thompson said. “Like it’s a beautiful summer day, but you just had a depressing break-up kind of feeling," Almond added. Rooney got to see the song bring out the "sensitive male" in both of them.
“Everything Is Everything” by Booker T. Jones, covering Lauryn Hill, from “The Road From Memphis” — The much loved hip-hop and R&B artist gets the instrumental cover treatment. "This is just a party anthem," Almond said. "There’s no words, just interpretive dance. You’re around the pool, maybe there’s some alcoholic beverages. And this is just what you listen to.”
“We Almost Lost Detroit” by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., covering Gil Scot-Heron — Almond felt he had to give a shout-out to his favorite artist, the legendary spoken-word artist and musician Gil Scot-Heron, who passed away last month. “To me, that’s late night summertime, and you’ve had a lot of drinks, and you’ve maybe had more than drinks, Emily, to be honest with you," Almond said.
“Summertime Thing” by Chuck Prophet, from “No Other Love” — “This is the quintessential summertime song," Almond said. "And it’s been my summer anthem for as long as I”ve known about it. It even mentions The Beach Boys, for extra bonus points.”
Almond paraphrased the lyrics to get at the summer vibe of the song: “Money in the bank, I’m not gonna save it, we’re having a party – or maybe not it’s not even organized as a party, I just hope this one chick comes by. That is my summer.”
“Youth Of 1000 Summers” by Van Morrison, from “Enlightenment” — Just one more classic: this 1990 track from the legendary Irish singer-songwriter. “I know Stephen Thompson and I can agree on that," Almond said.
By WGBH Staff | Thursday, June 23, 2011
Summer is a great time to travel, enjoy the outdoors or just kick back with a good book. We’ve asked a cross-section of WGBH Radio personalities for their suggestions of what to do and read this summer.
Jared Bowen, Arts & Culture contributor on 89.7 WGBH; reporter, Greater Boston
Little, Brown and Co., May 2011
“I’ve been dying to sink my teeth into the drug-addled, rollicking and surreal world of Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards, courtesy of his recently released memoir. I’ll never strut the stadium stage so Richards can help me fantasize. Without the heroin.”
Callie Crossley, The Callie Crossley Show, 89.7 WGBH
“Every year I promise I’ll head to Cape Ann or Maine, but then I find myself once again on my two-step jaunt via Peter Pan bus and Woods Hole Ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. In my beach bag, I’ll have the latest In Death mystery from J.D. Robb, and a new novel from Lorene Cary, If Sons, Then Heirs, a fictionalized story about the great migration North so well told in the nonfoction The Warmth of Other Suns by Boston University professor Isabel Wilkerson. And any day I’m ‘on island,’ you can find me admiring the sunset on a pal’s porch and sipping my favorite summer adult beverage: Vinho Verde, the green Portuguese wine with a touch of fizz. Cheers!”
Treachery in Death
(Putnam, Feb 2011)
If Sons, Then Heirs: A Novel
(Atria, Apr 2011)
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
(Random House, Sep 2010)
Cathy Fuller, 99.5 All Classical
Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer
(Picador, Feb 2011)
“It’s not every summer that you can find a thriller with as much stylish and sophisticated musical intrigue as Wesley Stace’s Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer. A composer murders his wife, her lover and himself on the eve of his new opera’s premiere. The opera’s plot is an echo of the triple murder and never gets staged. Highly praised by The New Yorker’s Alex Ross!”
Cristina Quinn, Weekend Edition, 89.7 WGBH
First Family: Abigail and John Adams
Joseph J. Ellis
(Knopf, Oct 2010)
“This is a great read that gives us a comprehensive look at the lives of John and Abigail Adams during monumental times in history through the intimate letters they wrote to each other. They were a fascinating couple with a bottomless well of embarrassingly adorable pet names for one another. It’s also really neat reading about local landmarks and events in firsthand detailed accounts. First Family has been my bedside table book for a couple months now, but I’m looking forward to finishing it up at the beach!”
Emily Rooney, The Emily Rooney Show, 89.7 WGBH
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
(Vintage Books, Feb 2004)
“Last summer I got off my usual track and wound up reading the Stieg Larsson Dragon Tattoo series, but this summer I’m back with my usual nonfiction indulgence and am about to dig into Eric Larson’s The Devil in the White City.”
Andrea Smarden, Reporter, 89.7 WGBH
The Imperfectionists: A Novel
(The Dial Press, Jan 2011)
“This story of people who work at a fictional English-language newspaper in Rome weaves together the perspectives of characters at the paper—from its heyday of clacking typewriter keys through the Internet age. Rachman’s book is a great contemplative read for summer. It’s moving, funny, and—as a journalist—it rings uncomfortably true.”
Mindy Todd, The Point, WCAI
(Viking, May 2011)
“Geraldine Brooks is one of my favorite authors, so I always look forward to her books. This one is based on the true story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College in 1665. Little is known about him, but Brooks weaves a tale that not only honors this Wampanoag from Martha’s Vineyard, but also gives insight into what an amazing accomplishment this was.”
Laura Carlo, 99.5 All Classical
Newport Music Festival
Thursday, July 7 – Sunday, July 24
“Less than a tank of gas away is the Newport Music Festival. Make a full day of it by flying kites at Adams State Park, having lunch overlooking the ocean, and then heading over to hear amazing performers from around the world at one of those exquisite ‘summer cottages’ built by the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. This year, be sure to catch the 13-concert miniseries in honor of Liszt in his 200th anniversary year.”
Brian O’Donovan, A Celtic Sojourn, 89.7 WGBH
Lowell Folk Festival
Friday, July 29 – Sunday July 31
Boarding House Park, Lowell, MA
“Now in its 25th year, this free festival celebrates all the diversity of traditional music, from Irish to Ethiopian to Louisiana Zydeco to Québécois. Not to be missed. Three bands alone are worth the trip: Dervish, a supergroup from Ireland, La Vent du Nord from Canada and Shemekia Copeland. Wow! If you can’t make it to Lowell, listen to WGBH on Saturday afternoon at 3pm for a live broadcast, which I will host.”
The Boston Irish Festival
Friday, June 17 – Sunday, June 19
“The Boston Irish Festival, produced by the Irish Cultural Centre of New England, offers a great weekend of Irish sports, music, dancing, ?lm, art, food, song and history.’
The Blackstone River Theatre Summer Solstice Festival
Saturday, June 18
“The Blackstone River Theatre Summer Solstice Festival presents a day of great artists like Annalivia, Robbie O’Connell, and The Gnomes.”
Bob Seay, Morning Edition, 89.7 WGBH
Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals
“For me, summer means a chance to enjoy the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals, the granddaddies of all summer music festivals. Newport is legendary for good reason. Founder George Wein, now 86 and still running the show, always is able to get the very best in talent—many of whom feel it’s an honor to be invited. Hear great music in an unforgettable setting at Fort Adams State Park overlooking beautiful Newport Harbor. Well into their sixth decade, both festivals are well run and world renowned.”
Jared Bowen, Arts & Culture contributor on 89.7 WGBH; reporter, Greater Boston
Porgy and Bess
Wedneday, August 17 – Monday, October 3
Loeb Drama Center, American Repertory Theater
“Diane Paulus and the A.R.T. have scored a major coup in landing the rights from the Gershwin estate to stage the iconic piece Porgy and Bess.It’s a little known fact that Porgy and Bess premiered here in Boston at the Colonial Theatre. With the ever-inventive Paulus directing and Broadway icon Audra McDonald starring, Porgy and Bessshould be the summer’s sublime show.”
Laura Carlo, 99.5 All Classical
Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular
Monday, July 4
“A Boston native, I remember heading out to the Esplanade with my friends when Arthur Fiedler conducted that amazing concert in 1976, the bicentennial year. We were just kids but we knew that an amazing Boston tradition was being launched and we were thrilled that we got to be part of it. I love broadcasting from the scene even though my voice has to compete with flyovers, Howitzers and fireworks!”
The Boston Landmarks Orchestra Summer Concert Series
Wednesdays at 7pm, July 13 – August 31
“99.5 All Classical is so pleased again to be the media partner of this free summer concert series. Pack some munchies and a blanket, and gather with your family at the Hatch Shell to hear gorgeous music under the stars. Landmarks welcomes new conductor Christopher Wilkins.”
Brian McCreath, 99.5 All Classical
Calmus Ensemble at the Rockport Chamber Music Festival
Friday, July 15
“On July 15, two of my favorite places come together when the Calmus Ensemble brings the amazing choral tradition of Leipzig, Germany, to the Rockport Chamber Music Festival’s gorgeous Shalin Liu Performance Center. A spectacular seaside setting, stellar acoustics and a cappellafrom Brahms to Sting: A definite winner.”
Emily Rooney, The Emily Rooney Show, 89.7 WGBH
Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Saratoga Springs, New York
“As for summer concerts, I like to take in an event or two at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center as I have a summer place at nearby Lake George. They have several events I’m looking forward to in July, including performances by the New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Saratoga throughout the month.”
Tennis Hall of Fame
“Tennis is my real passion, and I’ll take a day off from playing Saturday, July 9, to attend the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport for the annual inductees ceremony.”
Mindy Todd, The Point, WCAI
Cape Cod Melody Tent
“This intimate venue doesn’t have a bad seat in the house (tent): every seat is within 50 feet of the stage! Concerts this summer range from The Wiggles to Chris Botti to Tony Bennett.”
By WGBH News | Tuesday, June 21, 2011
June 21, 2011
BOSTON — Summer, with long days and, for many, a chance to be a little lazy, is the perfect time to catch up on some reading. The books people turn to this time of year include everything from lowdown trash to literary treasure.
So... what to pick? We can't choose for you. But The Callie Crossley Show humbly offers you its selection, compiled by "Inside Arts" editor Alicia Anstead, Wellesley College English Professor Yu Jin Ko and Callie herself.
Hear the full conversation and see more book picks here.
Alicia Anstead's Picks
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, by Gertrude Stein
I just saw Woody Allen's film Midnight in Paris," Anstead said. "I am now obsessed with Paris in the 1920s and 30s." Anstead thinks of this period, when the highly productive "Lost Generation" of artists and writers convened in Paris — as having shaped American culture in the 20th century more than almost any other time or place.
Gertrude Stein was a huge figure in this generation, and she wrote this novel about her lover, editor and confidant, Alice B. Toklas, in the guise of an autobiography. The book is as much chronicle of Stein's life and their time together.
Vintage; 252 pages.
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
The bestselling trilogy of young-adult thrillers, Anstead said, is great for summer entertainment at really any age. These post-apocalyptic novels concern a society in which a pair of children are selected annually to fight to the death in a televised event.
“I think they’re extraordinary fiction for young people,” Anstead said. She felt that Suzanne Collins had successfully transported her to another world.
Scholastic; 384 pages.
Callie Crossley's Picks
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by Manning Marable
This new reexamination of the controversial figure's life earned sad notice when the author passed away, two days before its release.
But the book's praise was well and thoroughly earned on its own merits. "He spent 20 years refuting what we think we know about Malcolm X," Crossley said. Marble reveals that the man presented to us in "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" was a misleading, sometimes fictional image. Plus, the book is 600 pages long — perfect for a long summer.
Viking; 608 pages.
The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson
Wilkerson, the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize, chronicles the long African-American migration to the Northern United States.
“A lot of book clubs are off for the summer, and they pick a book that is going to be either thoughtful, or long, and spend some time really revisiting it," Crossley said. “It’s stunning, it reads like a novel.”
Random House; 640 pages.
High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, by Jessica B. Harris
"A combination cookbook and cultural history," as Callie called it, Harris chronicles the cuisine of the African diaspora and its huge social significance. The book is a full-on celebration of the food and social traditions that sustained Africans in the Americas, and the culture that evolved in the wake of slavery.
Bloomsbury; 304 pages.
Yu Jin Ko's Picks
Please Look After Mom, by Kyung-Sook Shin
This novel, which has been a huge bestseller in Korea, is the story of a family searching for their mother, after she disappears into the crowds one day at Seoul Station.
But this may not be the right book for those who want something light or fun for the summer. “It’s not an escapist fantasy, but rather sends you on a guilt trip,” Ko said. “It’s a tear-jerker, and it wrings every last tear form your body.”
Knopf; 256 pages.
Babette's Feast, by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
This classic short story (here collected with several others by Dinesen), which later became a popular film, tells the story of a French cook working in a puritanical Norwegian community who treats her employers to a decadent feast.
Ko recommends it in part because, while he shares the summer fascination with food, this story is likewise less escapist and more a tale of, as he put it, "An intractable desire that never fully yields to satisfaction.”
Penguin; 256 pages.
On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan
Despite the title, Ko doesn't think this one is quite right as a beach book. “In many ways it’s the antithesis of the summer reading book," he said.
"Summer reading — a lot of summer reading, I should say — has a particular relationship to desire. Which is that it enacts a fulfillment of desire that leads to a new state — new states of being, new forms of self-actualization, etc. But there’s a category of novel that explores what happens to people when desire is deferred, or unrealized.”
For Ko, McEwan's novel is another story that movingly expresses and relates an unfulfilled desire. Which may be, in the end, a fine thing to contemplate — what is possible, impossible, and what you really want — over the long summer months.
Nan A. Talese; 208 pages.
By Lidia Bastianich | Tuesday, August 10, 2010
They're red. They're round. They’re juicy and delicious, and you’ve just got to have them! Tomato-time is here!
I know you know how to make a great tomato salad, but how about a panzanella? No, it’s not a dance. It’s a great, yet simple, Tuscan tomato-bread salad. It’s a great way to use day-old bread and save yourself a little dough!
Day-old crusty bread
A few fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Cut your juicy tomatoes and day-old, crusty bread into 1-inch cubes. Add some sliced cucumbers and sliced red onions, and top with shreds of ripped basil leaves. Dress with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and wine vinegar, add some salt and pepper to taste, and toss all together well.
Let it steep for 30 minutes and you’ve got yourself a great salad that will compliment any summer dish – grilled chicken, fish, meat, or even on its own with a piece of cheese will do.
And do as I do!
Pair your panzanella with a refreshing glass of Bastianich Rosato. Not only do the colors go beautifully together, but the bright acidity and berry flavors in the wine pair perfectly with the tomatoes.
Lidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Why would anyone in New England eat a strawberry in February? I wait all year for strawberries. I know the season is brief, but I eat my fill. I bake pies and tarts. I make jam. I eat them out of hand. I make ice cream. I freeze them. It’s one of the season’s greatest gifts. There’s nothing like a tart, or this wonderful recipe for Strawberries Jupiter, made with ruby-red strawberries still warm from the sun, just bursting with sweet juice!
1-1/2 quarts fresh strawberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
1 10-ounce package frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Chopped pistachio nuts
Fresh mint sprigs
Wash and hull the strawberries and dry them on paper towels. Slice the berries, cover with sugar, and chill for several hours. Purée the raspberries in the blender and strain them to remove the seeds. Add the orange liqueur and lemon juice and chill. Just before serving, ladle over the strawberries and garnish with pistachio nuts and sprigs of mint.
Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine’s food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.