books

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As Debbie Pettid, one of the creators of The Rabbit Hole, waited for some 30 elementary school students from Rosehill Enhanced Learning Classroom in the Shawnee Mission School District on a recent Friday morning, she reflected on the whirlwind of the past several months.

Becoming a grandparent can have vivid effects on a person. Journalist Lesley Stahl's new book, Becoming Grandma, explores the evolution of close relationships, personal transformation, and the intense joy that came over her when she held her grand-daughters for the first time.

When Al-Qaida moved into Timbuktu, Mali, the terror group was bent on enforcing Shariah law, threatening many historical artifacts in the region. That's when an African collector and adventurer, Abdel Kader Haidara, took it upon himself to salvage and smuggle more than 370,000 ancient manuscripts out of harm's way.

Guest:

With the birth of his first-born, Brian Gordon quickly learned that parenting wasn't exactly what he'd expected, much less what had been promised. So Gordon turned to cartooning, creating a duck family to comment on the joys and pains of parenthood in Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting

As we're in the midst of another election season, we hear a lot about how each candidate seems "presidential." What does that word mean, and what does it say about us? An editor who publishes books about the presidency shares his thoughts.

Guest:

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City writer Angela Cervantes won an International Latino Book Award in 2014 for her first book, Gaby, Lost and Found. Published by Scholastic Press, the book helped establish Cervantes, originally a poet and short-story writer, as an author of middle-grade fiction (for audiences between the ages of 8-12).

Courtesy Historic Kansas City

“Adult" coloring books are hot right now. Some 12 million coloring books sold in 2015, up from just 1 million the year before, according to the Nielsen Bookscan.

Some claim coloring is therapeutic. It’s undeniably nostalgic, but no matter the reason, The First Kansas City Coloring Book resurfacing now is certainly an example of good timing.

It's Leavenworth, Kan., in the 1980s. Two young boys. One escaped convict. Two recently divorced parents too absorbed in their own struggles to fully supervise their children. An apartment-complex swimming pool. A mysterious new friend. 

Meet the Leavenworth-born novelist behind this vision.

Guests:

Todd Wade / Flickr -- CC

The year is 2300 and Kansas City — as we know it — no longer exists.

The Eastern Empire — a loose federation of Chinese-led nations — has claimed the West Coast of the United States.

The refugee crisis from Americans fleeing east over the Rockies triggered a cataclysmic civil war, pitting the extremely wealthy against the extremely poor.

The very rich won, and the new nation that emerges has been restructured into a formalized, class-driven society.

Pexels / Creative Commons

The con-man may be someone  you want to avoid in real life, but he is a beloved figure in literature. Why do readers and writers love the con artist so? And why is he always a "he"? Lots of reading recommendations, plus the story of a local writer who's not only written about the con-man; he's also been one.

Guests:

Have you ever considered playing golf with a bow and arrow? What about boxing with fireworks? On this edition of Up to Date, we find out about these pastimes that sound made up but are actually very real.

Guest:

  • Edward Brooke-Hitching is the author of Fox Tossing and Other Forgotten and Dangerous Sports, Pastimes and Games.
Courtesy Doug Bradley

A new book about music and the Vietnam War is striking a deep chord, one reverberating from a long-ago Kansas City connection that shows up between the lines of We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack to the Vietnam War.

Adam / Flickr--CC

Steve Potter was sitting in a plane at Kansas City International Airport, waiting to taxi away from the gate.

“I got an email saying, ‘The audiobook that you’ve been waiting for is ready,’” says Potter, director of Mid-Continent Public Library. “So I’m like, OK, I’ll give this a try, see how fast it downloads.”

Before it was time to put his phone in airplane mode, he’d downloaded the audiobook and had it to listen to on his flight.

Natasha Ria El-Scari
Screaming Times

The first poem in Natasha Ria El-Scari’s Screaming Times launches a new war on a lie 397 years in the making.

That’s how long it’s been since African slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia, a full 157 years before America’s declaration “that all men are created equal.” The poem, “Treat Me Like a White Man,” is weary, incisive, and funny. “I hate being a Black woman,” El-Scari writes, “don’t wanna be an African woman.”

She’s written 21 books which have been translated into 35 languages. Her list of awards — which includes a Presidential Medal of Honor — could practically fill a book itself. Chilean-American author Isabel Allende joins Steve Kraske to talk about her latest book, her inspirations and her eventful life.

Writer and teacher Sandra Moran died on Saturday, November 7, at the age of 46, after a brief battle with cancer.

Moran was born in Topeka, Kansas, on Dec. 20, 1968, and grew up in Dover. She earned three degrees from the University of Kansas: a bachelor's degree in journalism, and master's degrees in public administration and in anthropology. 

Book Review: Denise Low's 'Jackalope'

Nov 2, 2015
Jason Daily

Denise Low
Jackalope (Red Mountain Press, 2015)

In the opening pages of Trickster Makes This World, his freewheeling 417-page masterwork on the subject, cultural critic Lewis Hyde argues that the trickster of ancient mythology hasn’t vanished. Trickster is everywhere, whether you recognize him — or her — or not.

C.J. Janovy

Back when he was in college, Mark L. Groves heard something frightening: "None of you will ever be professional authors."

It was his second creative writing class. The first one had been great, with a teacher who gave constructive criticism in a humane way. Now, this second creative writing professor was humiliating him.

Groves had been writing since his fourth-grade class with Mrs. Amos. He still remembers the name of his first story: "Joe Dude Groves vs. Your Monster Here."

photo courtesy of the author

Delays, misplaced reservations, waking up hungover and discovering your money is gone ... those are the hazards of travel today. Or are they? A writer with Kansas roots tells us about The Misadventures of Wenamun, his new comic about an ancient Egyptian priest who is known as "history's original literary traveler."

Guest:

Kyle Smith / KCUR

Perhaps it's the insight into the creative process. Or maybe it's because they seem like larger-than-life figures. Whatever the case, there's just something fascinating about reading about the lives of artists.

KCUR's Bibliofiles — our book critics — share their favorite books about artists with Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard.

Here are their recommendations:

Kaite Stover, Kansas City Public Library:

Kyle Smith/KCUR

They're difficult, they're demanding, they're egocentric, passionate, creative — and they make for great book fodder. KCUR's Bibliofiles discuss the best books about artists.

Guests:

 

In the newspapers, Pulitzer-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., writes about the very real world we live in, commenting on race relations and politics. On this edition of Up to Date, we talk with him about his columns and his latest novel, "Grant Park".

Courtesy Aaron Barnhart

The story of Kansas abolitionist John Brown — the wild-eyed man who killed pro-slavery settlers in response to the sacking of Lawrence before the Civil War — has been told so many times he's now a historical figure of mythical proportions. Few people, however, know the story of August Bondi, who fought alongside Brown in less-murderous Free State skirmishes.

Jen Mann

Mouthy blogger and New York Times bestselling author Jen Mann is at it again.

In her latest book, Spending the Holidays With People I Want to Punch in the Throat, the Overland Park writer takes down "humblebraggers," elves and bell-ringers alike. 

Whether its her love/hate relationship with chocolate covered peanut butter balls, or her love/hate relationship with her kids being home on winter break, she's got something to say. 

Here is an excerpt from the book, in which Mann lists the things she hates most about the holidays:

After the mortgage meltdown and bank bailouts that kicked off the Great Recession, many were pointing fingers at those who were supposed to foresee these catastrophes, economists. Steve Kraske talks with one who defends his profession, saying economists' ideas have contributed $1 trillion to this country’s economy.

Guest:

  • Robert Litan, author of "Trillion Dollar Economists: How Economists and Their Ideas Have Transformed Business"
Chronicle Books

Up to Date host Steve Kraske makes no bones about it, he does not like cats. Find out if Francesco Marciuliano and KCUR staffers can change his mind as they explore Marciuliano's humorous book, You Need More Sleep: Advice From Cats.

A new short-story collection, "I Was A Revolutionary" looks at Kansas history from a multitude of takes -- from Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence during the Civil War to the Populist era to the meat-packing plants of today. We take a closer look at the stories on this edition of Up to Date.

Guest:

Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll's classic character, turns 150 this year. The Kansas City Public Library is kicking off a two-month celebration of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland tonight with a lecture by Lewis Carroll scholar Mark Burstein.

We invite Burstein and a librarian to discuss the huge cultural influence of the book.

Guests:

Jeff Tigchelaar
Certain Streets at an Uncertain Hour (Woodley Press, 2015)

Writing free verse is playing tennis with the net down, Robert Frost famously said, and yet in the decades since his dismissal of the form many poets have ventured to win that game. Frost also once wrote to a friend that irony is a kind of guardedness, that at bottom the world isn’t a joke and humor is the most engaging cowardice — dour, almost dictatorial pronouncements.

Andrew Malan Milward
I Was A Revolutionary (HarperCollins)

 

As a place and as an idea, Kansas has a rich, textured history, including everything from bloodthirsty abolitionists to the first woman elected to public office, Susanna Salter. And for every widely known story about America’s 34th state, another remains more or less forgotten.

Consider the legacy of Nicodemus, Kansas, an all-black homestead founded in the decades after the Civil War, or the annihilation of the People of the South Wind, the Kaw Nation, also known as the Kansa, who gave their name to the territory that settlers — often German, Irish, Polish, or Balkan immigrants in the process of becoming white — stole from them.

Much of the state’s secret past is like this: sad, contentious, bloody, and thought-provoking. Sometimes it’s downright weird. In other words, fertile ground for storytellers.

Andrew Malan Milward’s new collection, I Was a Revolutionary, grows complex narratives from these obscure and captivating historical fragments. His writing is quiet, beautiful, and harrowing, bringing life to people and places you thought you knew. It’s a book powered by the past, if not consumed by it.

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