Book Nook

Book Nook


Vick Mickunas created the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1200 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities.He has interviewed historians (Studs Terkel, David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin), politicians (Mario Cuomo, George McGovern, John Kasich), movie stars (Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Peter Ustinov), astronauts (John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan), diplomats (Richard Holbrooke, Jose Ramos Horta), humorists (Garrison Keillor, Dave Barry, Sarah Vowell), and music legends from bands like The Animals, The Doors, and The Rolling Stones.Vick has interviewed some of the leading writers of our time, people like Pat Conroy, James Lee Burke, Richard Ford, Virginia Hamilton, Amy Tan, Anne Lamott, Tom Robbins, T.C. Boyle, and Gary Shteyngart.Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them.Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.More from Book Nook »

Most Recent Episodes

Book Nook: The Heavenly Table, by Donald Ray Pollock

Readers love to try to pigeonhole books and authors. So do reviewers. We seem to need to have some points of reference. Someone will claim that a writer is like Hemingway or Faulkner or heaven forbid, Cormac McCarthy. They want to have definable genres that people can recognize. This novel is crime fiction. That one is chick lit. Or maybe this is grit lit? Chick lit veering into grit lit?While categories are helpful I think that we often go too far down that road. Some writers are unlike any others. Donald Ray Pollock is one of those. I have only one category for Don; he's my favorite living Ohio author. He still lives here. His new book is magical. Here's the review I wrote for the Cox Ohio newspapers:Our world provides instant gratifications. Some of us desire much and want it right away. Do you recall the days before we could even get on-line? Before dial up modems? That slower, gentler society. Not too long ago really.Good things come to those who wait. Most of my favorite writers

Book Nook: The Rivers Ran Backward - the Civil War and the Remaking of the Middle American Border

When we look back at the Civil War period of American History we often have a tendency to examine things that we consider to have been clear cut. For example; Ohio was a free state or Kentucky was a slave state. In his book "The Rivers Ran Backward - the Civil War and the Remaking of the Middle American Border" Christopher Phillips makes the case that things were not really like that in the border states between the Union and the Confederacy. Rather than divisions that could be described as black or white, slave or free, there were infinite shades of gray (and blue).A slave who escaped and crossed the Ohio River into Ohio or Indiana wasn't going to feel that jubilant, yet. Perhaps if that slave made it to Canada there would finally be some sense of relief. According to Phillips there were actually numerous people still being held in bondage in supposedly free states and slave hunters operated freely there, recapturing escaped slaves and returning that "lost property" back to the South

Book Nook: The Rivers Ran Backward - the Civil War and the Remaking of the Middle American Border

Book Nook: As Good As Gone, by Larry Watson

Over the years that I have been hosting this program I have witnessed a lot of changes on the book publishing landscape. Technology has had an impact. Electronic books are now popular. Almost anybody can publish a book now if they want to do so. Book publishing has been going through consolidations. Back in the 1990's there were many more authors who went out on book tours. We used to get several passing through the WYSO studios each week for live interviews. Those days are gone.One author who appeared on the program a number of times back in the day was Larry Watson. He came through on book tours. He was publishing a lot of great books. Time marches on.The last time I had Larry Watson on the program was for a phone interview 16 years ago for his novel "Laura." He's still writing books. I'm still interviewing authors. His latest novel "As Good As Gone" reminds me of some of his greatest work from the 1990's. When I realized how long it had been since my last interview with him I felt

The Best of the Book Nook: A Conversation With Kent Haruf About "Plainsong"

Kent Haruf was one of the great American novelists that you might have never heard about. Haruf took a long time writing his books and he didn't even get published until late in life. His first book "The Tie that Binds" came out in 1984. That was followed in 1990 by "Where You Once Belonged." That second book only took him six years to write but he felt like he had to rush because he needed the money. He was so unhappy with it that before it even came out he wrote his editor a letter delineating all the flaws he felt were in it.Haruf's third book, 'Plainsong," came out in 1999. That was the book that brought this author his first significant critical attention and financial success. The following year when it came out in paperback I had him on the program. Haruf didn't write many books and he rarely gave interviews. It was the only opportunity I ever had to speak with him. "Plainsong" is a magical story and Haruf was an amazing writer. He died in 2014. The Book Nook on WYSO is made

The Best of the Book Nook: A Conversation With Kent Haruf About "Plainsong"

Book Nook: Under the Harrow, by Flynn Berry

Quite some time ago I recognized that I will never be able to read all the books I want to read. That doesn't mean I have stopped trying. One thing that really excites me is the prospect of discovering new books and new writers. The other day I had the opportunity to talk to Flynn Berry about her novel "Under the Harrow." The book just came out. It is her debut novel.There's a distinctive buzz that swirls about during conversations with authors who have just formally put themselves out there for readers to discover. "Under the Harrow" made quite an impression on me. As the story begins two sisters are planning to spend some time together. One sister is living in an English village. The other one travels there to visit. Upon her arrival she finds that her sister has been brutally murdered.Flynn Berry reveals in this interview that the original story that became "Under the Harrow" began to take root as a revenge fantasy. In this novel the police might not be able to figure out who

Book Nook: A Conversation With Michael Goldfarb

Michael Goldfarb has had a distinguished career as a journalist. Recently he returned to Ohio to work on a documentary for the BBC. Michael was interviewing Ohioans who are independent voters so that he could hear their opinions in regard to our upcoming presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.Michael is based in London, England but he has a history that takes him all the way back to Yellow Springs where he attended Antioch College. In this interview Michael talked about his books and then we shifted into a discussion about the US election. It is always a pleasure to talk to him. He joined me in the WYSO studios to record this special edition of the Book Nook. The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by six local library systems in southwest Ohio: the Greene County Public Library, Washington-Centerville Public Library, MidPointe Library System, Clark County Public Library, Dayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

Book Nook: The Dead Don't Bleed, by David Krugler

Alan Furst is often cited as the current master of the historical spy novel. I just read his latest, "A Hero of France," and I was shocked. His last several books have been fabulous. This new one is a real dud. Perhaps his bright star is dimming? I hope not.Fortunately we have some new entries in the genre. David Krugler just published his first novel "The Dead Don't Bleed" and it is a humdinger. The story is set in Washington, D.C. in 1945. World War Two is drawing to a close and the city is crawling with spies. Soviet espionage agents are trying to uncover the secrets of America's atomic bomb project. An American spy has been found dead in an alleyway. One of his colleagues goes undercover to try to find out who killed him. Or so it seems.As you peruse this page turner the one thing that is certain is that nothing will be as it seems. David Krugler's debut is a winner.

Book Nook: Terror in the City of Champions, by Tom Stanton

In 1935 the city of Detroit, Michigan was in the grip of the Great Depression. Unemployment was high and many of the city's residents were barely getting by. There were some things that happened that year in Detroit that gave the residents something to cheer about. 1935 was a great year for sports in the Motor City.1935 was the year that the Detroit Tigers won a baseball championship, the Detroit Lions were football champions, the Detroit Red Wings were the hockey champions and a boxer from Detroit named Joe Louis was on his way to becoming the heavyweight boxing champion.There were also some very evil things happening that year in Detroit. A secretive society called the Black Legion was committing hate crimes. This group had a large membership and many of the members were well connected. The Black Legion had many members who were also police officers. Many Legion members worked for the massive Ford plant at River Rouge.In his book "Terror in the City of Champions - Murder, Baseball,

Book Nook: Ghosts of the Desert, by Ryan Ireland

An anthropologist from Indiana travels to Utah to do some research. Shortly after he arrives he is abducted by a cult that has forged their own secret society in a ghost town. This researcher, his name is Norman, then becomes a member of this group that resides in the ruins of a place they call Jacobyville.In this novel "Ghosts of the Desert" Ryan Ireland has distilled some frightening moments he had once in the desert into some thoroughly creepy fiction. His story is peopled with bizarre characters. The level of morbid violence being perpetrated here can be chilling. We want to feel sorry for Norman but that doesn't last very long. Norman discovers he has found some kindred spirits and in the end he proves to be the greatest monster of them all.

The Best of the Book Nook: Remembering Gene Logsdon

Over the years that I have been interviewing authors on the radio I have had the pleasure to converse with some of the more interesting people on the planet. One of my favorite guests has been Gene Logsdon. Gene made half a dozen appearances on the program.The last time I spoke with Gene he was 82 years old and he was still living on his farm near Upper Sandusky, Ohio. He had just published a book called "Gene Everlasting - a Contrary Farmer's Thoughts on Living Forever." This book contains a number of essays that Gene wrote. Most of them were written after Gene had been through treatment for cancer. Gene's reflections on this grand adventure that we call life are often deep, frequently humorous, and steeped in the vast reservoir of living that Gene experienced.Gene Logsdon died on May 31, 2016. When I heard the news I went back and listened to the interviews we did together. I put together this memorial tribute show for him. As you listen you'll hear portions of a conversation we had

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