Largely self-educated and widely read, Mattilda Berstein Sycamore is wise and whimsical. It’s a magnetic combination. Her reading story takes an important turn when she moves to San Francisco at 19 and meets a vibrant queer community that loves to read as much as she does.
A designer by schooling and trade, Jez Burrows is also a writer who enjoys having fun with words. The books he likes best do, too. In one, letters start disappearing from a plaque on a statue in town, and the residents must do without them, one by one, until only a few are left. Which means the writer does without them as well. In another, originally written in French, the letter E is missing. And guess what? It’s missing in the English translation, too (how did they do that?!). You have probably never heard of some of the books discussed in this episode — so, get your to-read list out.
Author Paul Lisicky’s interview was recorded in 2016 when The Spine was a radio program on WHUP FM out of Hillsborough, North Carolina. He’s the author of five books, including “The Narrow Door,” published by Graywolf Press in 2016. A New York Times Editor’s Choice, “The Narrow Door” was named one of the most exciting books of the year by Buzzfeed and one of the best books of the year by Shelf Awareness. Paul is working on a new book, which is coming out in 2020, also from Graywolf. It’s called “Later.” Right now, he’s a Visiting Writer at UT Austin.
Though she created a Twitter feed, @DystopianYA, where she aimed to write the worst young adult novel, author Dana Schwartz actually loves dystopian stories. From Atwood to Gaiman, Bradbury to Card, she covers it all in her conversation with host Gail Marie in this episode of The Spine.
Though he didn’t begin reading in earnest until college, he’s made up for lost time. As a graduate student at Duke University English Department, Ken Ilgunas lived out of a van so that he could (and did!) graduate without incurring debt. You can read about it in “Walden on Wheels,” his first book, which just celebrated its fifth anniversary.
The award-winning writer Allan Gurganus discovered the library later in life than most writers. “All of the imagination that a lot of people use in reading I used to read the woods.” But he made up for lost time quickly, finishing 1,200 books (and writing book reports on each one) in under four years. He says it saved his life, and after listening to his story, you’ll understand why.
Krista Bremer is the author of “My Accidental Jihad: A Memoir” and editor at The Sun. She shares with listeners of The Spine how she became a reader (including “the thrill of browsing” she still experiences at the library), how her reading informs and affects her writing, and her all-time favorite book (by Virginia Woolf). “I think fiction can be truer than nonfiction,” she said.
Writer and reader Michele Filgate credits her grandmother for generating her love for books; for Michele’s 10th birthday, she even paid Michele’s $100 library fee. Who does she consider “the patron saint of book worms”? What kind of fan fiction did she write as a kid? And what was her role in Paul Harding’s “Tinkers” winning the Pulitzer Prize for literature? You’ll have to listen to find out.