Writers Speak

Listening to writers read from their work and talk about it is a treat. Here are some gems I’ve heard lately, not all new but all terrific. 

Joan Didion reads from Blue Nights and is interviewed by Jeffrey Brown on PBS News Hour. My admiration for this woman is limitless. To see a snippet of her in her youth, watch this 1970s NBC interview with Tom Brokaw.

Junot Diaz (pictured above) talks and talks, and also reads from his amazing book of linked short stories, This is How You Lose Her. Hugely entertaining and clever if you get past the mad number of ‘yeahs’.

Geraldine Brooks is the author of the novels People of the Book (inspired by the true story of the Sarajevo Haggadah), and Year of Wonder (also based on a true story, this time the tale of an English town that in 1666 voluntarily isolated itself to stop the spread of the plague), among others. If you haven’t read any of her work you really should. Maybe listening to her speak will encourage you. She’s funny, warm, and quick-witted. If you want more after this, she delivered a great Boyer Lecture in 2011.

Edna O’Brien offers a short, pure, no chatter reading of the first pages of her lauded novel The Country Girls. Exquisite.

Richard Ford, too, offers a straight reading from his novel Canada. This man is an artist with words, a modern master. You can hear him interviewed by Sean Condon at The Wheeler Centre. The conversation between Richard Ford and Joyce Carol Oates is gold (even though the sound quality is bad).

Lorrie Moore is interviewed by the New York Times‘ Sam Tanenhaus here about A Gate at the Stairs. You’ll need to read the book for this one to make sense but if you have, it’s very interesting. This interview is part of a NYT series. If you type ‘Arts: A Conversation with’ into youtube, you’ll see the list. Listen to the Toni Morrison interview, too. She is, as always, awe-inspiring.

Markus Zusak, surely the most amiable, down-to-earth Australian writer, talks about his writing process and his brother. Funny and charming.

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