Cover To Cover
A Program About Books

Monday, December 29
Negro President/Garry Wills
The Pulitzer Prize winning historian with a short book concerning the true relationship between America's history and slavery, postulating that Jefferson not only tolerated the institution, but used whatever means to encourage it.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky.

December 25
Where I Was From/Joan Didion
Ruminations on California, its history, and the relationship between Manifest Destiny and the hell of suburban living. Alternately intriguing and obscure.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky. 

Monday, December 22
In The Forest/Edna O'Brien
Tryptich/Edna O'Brien
The Irish novelist's play, now at San Francisco's Magic Theater, is the funny and tragic story about a man, his wife, his mistress and his daughter. A very lively and worthwhile play. (Also on hand in the interview is Chris Smith, artistic director of the Magic).
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky

December 18
City Room/Arthur Gelb
Continuation of the interfiew.
Skipping Toward Gomorrah/Dan Savage
Outtakes from the previously aired interview.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky.

December 11
City Room/Arthur Gelb
The former City Room and Managing Editor of the New York Times looks back on his life and on the events that his newspaper covered between 1945 and 1980.  Not merely a superb memoir but also a history book that brings the recent past to life.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky

December 4
Review Program
The Magician/W. Somerset Maugham. This lesser novel from 1908 has odd resonances because the main character is a dead ringer for L. Ron Hubbard. The book was written years before Hubbard was actually born. RAL
In Pharaoh's Army/Tobias Wolff. Resonances abound as thoughts of Iraq intrude as one reads this brilliant memoir by a Vietnam Vet. RW
A Puzzle for Fools/Hugh Wheeler (Patrick Quinn). A interesting out of print mystery by the librettist for Sondheim's "A Little Night Music." RAL
Everything Was Possible/Ted Chapin. Brilliant book about the creation of the musical "Follies." RW
Impact Parameter/Geoffrey A. Landis, published by Golden Gryphon press ( Excellent science fiction stories by an upcoming star in the field. RAL.
Hosts: Richard Wolinsky and Richard A. Lupoff.

November 27
Skipping Toward Gomorrah/Dan Savage
The author of the "Savage Love" advice column checks in with this look at America, the seven deadly sins, and the hypocritical professional scolds like Bill Bennett who tell us what we're doing wrong even as they continue pandering to their own vices. Very funny and very truthful. Available now in trade paperback.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky.

November 20
Bushwhacked/Molly Ivins & Lou Dubose
Molly Ivins is a national treasure. Long may she continue and prosper. While less funny and angry than recent books by Michael Moore or Al Franken. Bushwhacked uses specific examples to show how, as Molly says in the interview, Americans are being screwed by the Bush Administration. Highly recommended.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky.
Hear the full interview

November 13
Secret Father/James Carroll
Constantine's Sword/James Carroll
Carroll's latest multilevel novel concerns an incident in Berlin just prior to the building of the wall, when Cold War tensions were at their highest. Thoughtful and often incisive. Constantine's Sword is an indictment of Christian institutionalized anti-Semitism.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky

November 6
That Old Ace in the Hole/Annie Proulx
The Shipping News/Annie Proulx
Gorgeously written and well researched populist literature. Proulx has a keen eye for detail and a sharp, subtle wit.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

October 30
Sixty-Six/Barry Levinson
The director of "Diner" writes his first novel, dealing with similar issues as his classic film. More interesting as a fictionalized memoir of Levinson's early years than as a novel per se, but still very readable.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

October 23
Book Reviews with Richard Wolinsky and Richard A. Lupoff.
Bushwhacked/Molly Ivins & Lou Duboce. Excellent look at the way the Bush Administration is screwing the American public. Highly recommended. RW
Roscoes In The Night/Robert Leslie Bellum. Published by Adventure House ( Bellum's overblown pulp prose is both a camp riot as well as a window into '40s sensibility, and worth the effort for anyone interested in American cultural history. RAL.
Dude, Where's My Country?/Michael Moore. A funny and often angry screed by America's great populist rabble-rouser. If this doesn't get people to take action, what will?? RW
Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons/John Carter. Published by Feral House ( The biography of the man who served as the link between the worlds of science fiction, the occult, and scientology. Fascinating and bizarre. RAL.

October 16

October 9
L'Affaire/Diane Johnson
Le Divorce/Diane Johnson
Johnson's newest novel, "L'Affaire," the last in her French trilogy, is an amusing take on the French and their relations with the British and the Americans, with Johnson's observations holding sway. While both amusing and readable, neither as sharp or funny as her brilliant "Le Divorce" (the book, not the movie).
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky. 

October 2
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency/Alexander McCall Smith
The Kalahari Typing School for Men/Alexander McCall Smith
Smith's books on Botswana are not really detective books. They're rather stories about every day life in Africa, told from a very expansive viewpoint. Enjoyable and informative.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky

September 25
Blue Shoe/Anne Lamott
Traveling Mercies/Anne Lamott
Blue Shoe is a very funny, brilliantly written novel about one woman's search for happiness. Traveling Mercies is a collection of essays, mostly written for Salon, about Lamott's own search for meaning. Lamott is an extremely entertaining writer. Recorded in 2002.  I
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

September 18
A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies/John Murray
Well-reviewed collection of short stories written by a doctor who spent most of his career as an aid worker around the world.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

September 15
Prague/Arthur Phillips
This novel about young Americans in Budapest in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall shines most when it veers into the story of an Hungarian publisher and the history of his family. A very good first novel, but still, a first novel. Now in paperback.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky. 

September 11
Clever Girl/Lauren Kessler
Biography of Elizabeth Bentley, American spy for the USSR during World War II and star witness for HUAC and J. Edgar Hoover.  A fascinating read.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky. 

September 4
Looking For My Country/Robert MacNeil
The retired host of "MacNeil/Lehrer" talks about growing up in Canada, and what convinced him to eventually become an American citizen. Mostly a memoir, but also a paean to the better parts of the American psyche.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky. 

August 28
Shattered Love/Richard Chamberlain
Chamberlain, who starred on TV in "Dr. Kildare" and miniseries such as "The Thorn Birds" and "Shogun" comes out of the closet and discusses his life in this recent memoir.  Despite claims of openness, Chamberlain remains extremely guarded, keeping this book from being what it could have been.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky.   

August 21
Seriously Funny/Gerald Nachman
This lengthy examination of the rebel comedians of the '50s and '60s is not without flaws but still stands alone as the only book covering, in depth, an extremely important era in American comedy.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

August 14
Mystic River/Dennis Lehane
Shutter Island/Dennis Lehane
"Mystic River" is one of the best noir novels of the past decade. Lehane's follow-up, "Shutter Island," which takes two cops to a prison insane asylum in the 1950s, is quite different but still succeeds.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky. .

August 7
Oryx and Crake/Margaret Atwood
A satiric dystopia about a world destroyed by gene-splicing run amok. Fails as a cautionary tale but is often wildly funny. Not among Atwood's best but still worthwhile.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky. 

July 31
Review Program
Damn Senators/Mark Gauvreau Judge. Error-filled account of the history of the Washington Senators baseball team. RAL
Summerland/Michael Chabon. Young adult fantasy in which the non-fantastic elements work better than the fantastic ones. RAL & RW
Damascus Gate/Robert Stone. Brilliant novel about the conflicts in Israel today, by the author of the recent "Bay of Souls." RW
When The Game Is On The Line/Rick Horrow. Baseball economics clearly explained. RAL
1421: The Year China Discovered America/Gavin Menzies. A gem of an historical work. RAL
Reviewers: Richard A. Lupoff and Richard Wolinsky

July 24
Keeping Faith/Fenton Johnson
Johnson, the author of the acclaimed AIDS memoir, "Geography of the Heart", spent several years alternating between the Buddhist and Catholic monastic lifestyles, delving into the difference between faith and religion. This fascinating philosophical and historical exploration is the result.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

July 17
Sappho's Leap/Erica Jong
The author of the feminist classic "Fear of Flying" returns with this historical novel about the ancient Greek feminist poet. Using Homer's Odyssey as its starting point, the novel satirizes much about modern society, including the idea that if only women ran the world, there would be peace. More often than not, however, the book misses its mark.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

July 10
Good Morning Mr. Zip Zip Zip/Richard Schickel.
Schickel, film critic for Time Magazine, talks about growing up in Wisconsin during World War II and examines the films of that era, with an eye toward their propagandistic value. Those parts of the book dealing with film are superb, the material about life in Wisconsin less so. There's a reason why Schickel himself at the time found things so dull there. They were.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

July 3

June 26
Bay of Souls/Robert Stone
Damascus Gate/Robert Stone
While "Bay of Souls", which takes place partly on a fictional island in the Caribbean, deals with similar themes as his earlier work, including politics, the religious impulse, and the search for meaning, it seems pared down compared to Stone's masterful previous novel, "Damascus Gate," which may be the best book written to date about modern-day Israel, the intifada, and the nature of Jerusalem.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky

June 19
Getting Mother's Body/Suzan-Lori Parks
Topdog Underdog/Suzan Lori-Parks
The Pulitzer Prize winning author of the play "Topdog/Underdog," which comes to San Francisco in fall, 2003 has a new novel, a road trip set in 1963 West Texas, in which each character tells the story from his or her point of view. Very different, frequently surprising.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

June 12
I, The Jury/Mickey Spillane
The king of pulp detective fiction is still around, at 85, and as feisty as ever. "I don't have fans," he says, "I have customers." His early work like "I, The Jury" is still a classic in paperback lore, though the general reaction to his later career is usually "What, is he still alive?"
Spillane was interviewed in Los Angeles this past spring by Richard A. Lupoff. Program Producer: Richard Wolinsky

June 5
The Kitchen Boy/Robert Alexander
Robert Alexander is the pseudonym of mystery author R.D. Zimmerman, and this book recounts the final days in the life of Tsar Nicholas and his family. Mostly reads like an historical work, but Alexander comes through in the end with some bang-up twists.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

May 29
Have You Seen Dawn/Steven Saylor
Gordianus the Finder series/Steven Saylor
The author of an acclaimed series of mysteries set in ancient Rome, Steven Saylor now writes a contemporary thriller set in Texas. A fast and easy read with nice atmosphere, but no match for his other works.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

May 22
Random Family/Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Reporter LeBlanc spent ten years with a group of young Puerto Ricans in the South Bronx. This is their story, told with few frills and no moralizing. Intense and different.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky, 

May 15
Cosmopolis/Don DeLillo
The acclaimed author of "Underworld" returns with a short distillation of his themes of technology and alienation. DeLillo is a brilliant stylist, but the book never resonates.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

May 8
Devil in the White City/Erik Larson
The detailed story of the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair mixes with that of a serial killer and an assassin to create an non-fiction historical tapestry that brings to life America's gilded age.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky. 

May 1
Pattern Recognition/William Gibson
Gibson uses his science fiction chops to create a novel set in 2001 involving a cult video clip and the woman who tries to find out who created it. Gibson either strikes a deep chord, or misses entirely, depending on the reader.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 
Bookwaves/William Gibson page

April 24
The Time of Our Singing/Richard Powers
A brilliant multi-dimensional sage that combines a history of race in America in the second half of the Twentieth Century with music and the nature of time. Highly recommended.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

April 17
The Master Butchers Singing Club/Louise Erdrich
A family epic spanning three decades set in the author's fictional town of Argus, North Dakota, based in part on Erdrich's own grandparents. Sprawling, densely written and well-researched. While it might leave some readers cold, a treat for Erdrich fans. Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky

April 10
What Liberal Media?/Eric Alterman
Alterman's well-researched book documents the truth behind the myth of the liberal media, and explains how the right-wing uses that myth to further its own agenda. Necessary reading for those interested in how news and analysis is presented in the United States.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky 

April 3
Review Program
The Spooky Art/Norman Mailer. Mailer talking about writing and his career as a writer. Highly recommended to anyone who cares about the literary art. RAL
The Time of Our Singing/Richard Powers. Extraordinary literary novel about race, music and American life in the second half of the twentieth century. Highly recommended. RW
It's That Time Again/edited by Ben Ohmart. Fun collection of short stories based on old radio shows.
Available through RAL
The Kitchen Boy/Robert Alexander. A novel about the last days of the Tsar, with a terrific surprise ending. Robert Alexander is the pseudonym of mystery writer R.D. Zimmerman. RW
Willeford/Don Herron. Interesting biography of the noted mystery writer Charles Willeford ("Cockfighter," "Miami Blues," the Hoke Mosely series), from the perspective of one of his friends. Available through RAL
What Liberal Media?/Eric Alterman. What's really going on in the media? One of the most important books of the last several years. RW
Reviewers: Richard Wolinsky, Richard A. Lupoff.

March 27
Eleven Karens/Peter Lefcourt
The Deal/Peter Lefcourt
The Dreyfus Affair/Peter Lefcourt
For a review of Eleven Karens, please see Wolinsky Weblog, Sunday March 9, 2003. The Deal is a very funny book about Hollywood. The Dreyfus Affair tells the story of a Major League shortstop who falls in love with his double play partner, the second baseman. Lefcourt is a fine, underrated writer, who is also creator of a brilliant though little-known TV series, "Beggars & Choosers" which ran on Showtime in the late '90s.
.Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky.

March 20
Pre-empted for war coverage by Pacifica Radio.

March 13
A Whistling Woman/A.S. Byatt
Possession/A.S. Byatt
Middlesex/Jeffrey Eugenides
Fried Green Tomatos at the Whistle-Stop Cafe/Fannie Flagg
Part two of the Byatt interview; unaired excerpts from the Eugenides and Flagg interviews.
Host: Richard Wolinsky

March 6
A Whistling Woman/A.S. Byatt
The author of Possession completes her autobiographical quartet  of novels (The Virgin in the Garden, Still LIfe, Babel Tower) with this slow moving tour through rural university life, and hippie cult and political movements in 1968 England. Beautifully written, as are all Byatt's works, but it's unlikely that the political, social and cultural debates making up large swatches of A Whistling Woman have much resonance today.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky.

February 27
Tomorrow Now/Bruce Sterling
A look at trends toward the future by the cyberpunk author and editor. Despite some amusing and/or enlightening moments, mostly the kind of rant to be found on a weblog or inside conferences on the Well (to which Sterling belongs). The book he is most proud of writing remains the 19th century/cyberpunk classic, "The Difference Engine," co-authored with William Gibson.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky
Hear the interview

February 20
The Wheel of Time/Robert Jordan
Massive 10-volume fantasy series continues with Jordan's latest, Crossroads of Twilight. For those interested in reading a 7,000 page (and counting) fantasy epic, the first volume is titled Eye of the World
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky

February 13
The Grand Complication/Allen Kurzweil
A Case of Curiosities/Allen Kurzweil
Two books that combine a love of history with a love of mystery, both involving 18th century artifacts and the French crown. Both are now available in trade paperback.
Interviewed by Richard Wolinsky.

February 6
Stories from a Lost Anthology/Rhys Hughes. Excellent collection of fantasy written by a mainstream writer.
Eleven Karens/Peter Lefcourt. Charming fictionalized memoir about the television writer's early life and loves.
Discussion of Publishing
A look at the growing small press industry and its relation to mainsream publishing as a whole.
Hosts: Richard Wolinsky & Richard A. Lupoff

January 30
Wittgenstein's Poker/David Edmonds & John Eidenow
On October 25, 1946, philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper had a run-in at Cambridge University, culminating in the former waving a fireplace poker at Popper. The authors use this incident to weave the tale of 20th Century philosophy and its relationship to politics and the moral dilemmas of the time. A fascinating account of not only the personalities involved, but of major philosophical trends in the last century.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky

January 23
Crime School/Carol O'Connell
Mallory's Oracle/Carol O'Connell
O'Connell hit the mystery scene with a bang a few years ago as "Mallory's Oracle" shattered preconceptions and created a stunning new series character. Her most recent novel, "Crime School" sheds more light on detective Mallory's history, but does not sustain the energy of O'Connell's earlier works.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky

January 16
Complicated Women/Mick LaSalle
Dangerous Men/Mick LaSalle
LaSalle, chief film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, has written two volumes on Hollywood movies in the pre-code era, 1927-1934, which discusses the nature of sexual roles in film, as well as censorship. Together, the books comprise a detailed and definitive look at a brief era of Hollywood freedom.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky

January 9
Middlesex/Jeffrey Eugenides
An epic novel of a Greek family in America, from their emigration in the early part of the 20th Century to modern times, told from the point of view of a hermaphrodite. Brilliant and far-ranging novel by the author of "The Virgin Suicides."
Hear the Interview
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky

January 2
Reversible Errors/Scott Turow
The author of such excellent legal novels as "Sins of the Fathers" and "Personal Injuries" is less successful this time out in the story of the possible innocence of a death-row inmate. Turow excels at characterization, is weaker at plot.
Interviewer: Richard Wolinsky.

Some programs can be heard via the Alphabetical Archives page
FOR 2003