Summer Book Week 2016

Weekend Connections is a collection of some of the most noteworthy moments from the week on Connections with Evan Dawson. This episode includes discussions from our Summer Book Week. Listen to conversations about:

  • The debate over the M.F.A. degree;
  • How local publishers and self-publishers compete at the national level;
  • Writing personal essays, with author Sonja Livingston;
  • How novels can reflect societal challenges, with author Richard Russo;
  • Making the classics engaging for young adult readers.

We sit down with two local authors who publish fiction for young adults. 

Charles Benoit is the author of Snow Job. Does who you are in high school brand you for life? Nick sure hopes not. It's senior year, and he has decided that his loser friends may be going nowhere fast, but he "isn't." Instead, Nick has created the perfect list of rules for remaking his life. But meeting dark-eyed Dawn and hanging out with teen thug Zod are nowhere on that list. And making illegal deliveries "definitely" isn't on it. So why is Nick caught up with these people and their dangerous schemes? Will Nick's list help him to be a hero or turn him into a fall guy? Benoit's teen novels include Cold Calls, Snow Job, Fall from Grace and You, an American Library Association Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. A former high school teacher, Charles is also the Edgar-nominated author of three adult mysteries. He lives in Rochester, New York.

Linda Sue Park is the author of Forest of Wonders and Yaks Yak. 

Forest of Wonders is a captivating fantasy-adventure about a boy, a bat, and an amazing transformation. Raffa Santana has always loved the mysterious Forest of Wonders. For a gifted young apothecary like him, every leaf could unleash a kind of magic. When an injured bat crashes into his life, Raffa invents a cure from a rare crimson vine that he finds deep in the Forest. His remedy saves the animal but also transforms it into something much more than an ordinary bat, with far-reaching consequences. Raffa's experiments lead him away from home to the forbidding city of Gilden, where troubling discoveries make him question whether exciting botanical inventions including his own might actually threaten the very creatures of the Forest he wants to protect. The first book in an enchanting trilogy, Forest of Wonders richly explores the links between magic and botany, family and duty, environment and home. 

  Yaks Yak presents animals acting out the verbs made from their names. Illustrations rich in comic details show hogs hogging, slugs slugging, and other spirited creatures demonstrating homographs, words with different meanings that are spelled and pronounced the same. A chart listing the words, their meanings, and their history is included. Ideal for sharing, this book offers a sprightly and fanciful introduction to a fun form of wordplay. Born in Illinois, Ms. Park has also lived in California, England, and Ireland. She and her husband, a journalist, now live in Rochester, New York, and have two grown children. 

We close out our 2016 Summer Book Week with conversations about young adult literature. Organizers and attendees of the Greater Rochester Teen Book Fest join us to talk about what's trending in YA fiction, which authors are making waves, and how teens can get involved in local reading and writing events. Our guests:

  • Stephanie Squicciarini, founder and director of the Greater Rochester Teen Book Fest, and young adult librarian at Fairport Public Library
  • Beth Puckett, founding member of the Rochester Teen Book Fest, and library media specialist at Monroe 1 BOCES
  • Hannah Olin, author and graduating senior at Fairport High School
  • Alexis Taranto, member of the Greater Teen Book Fest’s Write and Draw On Group, and member  the Teen Advisory Board at Fairport Public Library
  • Claire Molinich, member of the Teen Advisory Board at Fairport Public Library

We talk to author Richard Russo about his new book, Everybody's Fool

Russo, at the very top of his game, now returns to North Bath, in Upstate New York, and the characters who made Nobody’s Fool (1993) a “confident, assured novel [that] sweeps the reader up,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle back then. “Simple as family love, yet nearly as complicated.” Or, as The Boston Globe put it, “a big, rambunctious novel with endless riffs and unstoppable human hopefulness.”  The irresistible Sully, who in the intervening years has come by some unexpected good fortune, is staring down a VA cardiologist’s estimate that he has only a year or two left, and it’s hard work trying to keep this news from the most important people in his life: Ruth, the married woman he carried on with for years; the ultra-hapless Rub Squeers, who worries that he and Sully aren’t still best friends; and Sully’s son and grandson, for whom he was mostly an absentee figure (and now a regretful one). We also enjoy the company of Doug Raymer, the chief of police who’s obsessing primarily over the identity of the man his wife might’ve been about to run off with, before dying in a freak accident; Bath’s mayor, the former academic Gus Moynihan, whose wife problems are, if anything, even more pressing; and Carl Roebuck, whose lifelong run of failing upward might now come to ruin. And finally, there’s Charice Bond—a light at the end of the tunnel that is Chief Raymer’s office—as well as her brother, Jerome, who might well be the train barreling into the station.

We shine the spotlight on Writers & Books, a literacy center in Rochester's Neighborhood of the Arts.

For more than 35 years, Writers & Books has promoted reading and writing within the community through writing classes and workshops, outreach programs, readings and talks, and more.

We talk to the center's founder and retired executive director, Joe Flaherty, about how Writers & Books has grown throughout the years. We are also joined by the center's new executive director, Kyle Semmel, who shares his plans for the organization's future.

Two local writers join us to talk about their new books.

Rachel Hall is the author of the forthcoming book, Heirlooms: Stories (pre-order). Heirlooms begins in the French seaside city of Saint-Malo in 1939, and ends in the American Midwest in 1989. In these linked stories, the war reverberates through four generations of a Jewish family. Inspired by the author's family stories as well as extensive research, Heirlooms explores assumptions about love, duty, memory and truth.

Lynn Rosen is the author of A Man of Genius. Samuel Grafton-Hall is a man of genius who demands reverence from all. A renowned architect, his point of view is not universally shared by students, critics, and colleagues – but this is of little consequence to Grafton-Hall, for he revels in his misanthropy. Immune to the barbs of the masses, Grafton-Hall also suffers no qualms about his personal peccadilloes and perversions. An unrepentant womanizer, Grafton-Hall leaves colleagues, friends, and lovers deeply scarred from having known him. And then there is the murder. The question of guilt is of less consequence than the question of whether the gift of genius makes one irreproachable. A rich novel that will sweep you into a life of glittering achievement and the core of hubris, A Man of Genius will forever alter your ideas about success and pride. Written in the haunting style of du Maurier’s Rebecca, this is a compelling story, told with intelligence and classic style.

We talk to local publishers and editors who are making waves nationally. Our guests:

We talk with author Sonja Livingston about her new book, Ladies Night at the Dreamland

At the Dreamland, women and girls flicker from the shadows to take their proper place in the spotlight. In this lyrical collection, Livingston weaves together strands of research and imagination to conjure figures from history, literature, legend, and personal memory. The result is a series of essays that highlight lives as varied, troubled, and spirited as America itself. Harnessing the power of language, Livingston breathes life into subjects who lived extraordinary lives— as rule-breakers, victims, or those whose differences made them cultural curiosities—bringing together those who slipped through the world largely unseen with those whose images were fleeting or faulty so that they, too, remained relatively obscure. Included are Alice Mitchell, a Memphis society girl who murdered her female lover in 1892; Maria Spelterini, who crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope in 1876; May Fielding, a “white slave girl” buried in a Victorian cemetery; Valaida Snow, a Harlem Renaissance trumpeter; a child exhibited as Darwin’s Missing Link; the sculptors’ model Audrey Munson; a Crow warrior; victims of a 1970s serial killer; the Fox Sisters; and many more.

In the age of Google and e-book readers, what does the future hold for bookstores and libraries? How can they adapt to patrons' needs?

We talk to local bookstore owners and librarians about how their industries are surviving and thriving. We also explore industry trends and emerging technology and spaces, which speak to how bookstores and libraries have become centers for community and collaboration. Our guests:

First hour: The future of bookstores and libraries

Second hour: Author Sonja Livingston and her book, Ladies Night at the Dreamland