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Christian Novel is Surprise Bestseller

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Christian Novel is Surprise Bestseller

Christian Novel is Surprise Bestseller

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  • Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Hey there, welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. We are online all the time at npr.org/bryantpark. You guessed it. It's time for the most-emailed, most-read, most-mosted stories on the Internet. Let's do The Most.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: Did I sing that?

DAN PASHMAN: You inflected it with passion, gusto.

MARTIN: Singing would have been saying...

(Singing) The Most.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MIKE PESCA, host:

That would have been vibrato.

PASHMAN: Yeah.

PESCA: And that would have gotten high marks from Simon Cowell, yeah.

MARTIN: OK. Let us begin now with Tricia McKinney.

PATRICIA MCKINNEY: Hello, hello.

MARTIN: Hey!

MCKINNEY: I have one of the most-popular articles from the New York Times Arts Section.

MARTIN: Yeah?

MCKINNEY: And it's actually about the number one book on their trade-paperback fiction bestseller list.

MARTIN: Mm-hm.

MCKINNEY: Which we talked about on the show awhile ago. It's called "The Shack," by William P. Young, a.k.a. Paul Young...

MARTIN: We did, yeah.

MCKINNEY: And it's a Christian novel, and Rachel, you and I were - talked to Paul Young, and - so the book, you know, if people recall, started out - he wrote it for his kids to kind of explain his spiritual awakening, and then a friend helped him publish it, and then they spent about 300 dollar on marketing, and just through word of mouth, this thing caught on. And we find it when it was on the USA Today bestseller list. Well, now it's on the New York Times bestseller list. It's number one at Borders. It's even outselling - at Barnes & Noble, it's even outselling Oprah's guy, Eckhart Tolle.

PASHMAN: Oh, Eckhart Tolle.

MARTIN: Wow.

MCKINNEY: So, yeah. So he - it's big, and apparently now - so here's the change since we last talked to him in May. Hachette Book Group USA entered into a partnership to continue to publish the book. They are now placing marketing advertisements on subways in Atlanta, Chicago and New York. They're running spots on CNN and other - and local TV stations.

MARTIN: Gosh. He must be freaking out. He was real - when we talked to him, he was really - he was overwhelmed.

MCKINNEY: Yeah. Well, apparently, according to Windblown Media, the publisher, they have sold more than a million copies. So, you know, a lot of that's worth of mouth, they said. So we'll see, it's really taken off.

PESCA: Or listening to the Bryant Park Project.

MARTIN: Yeah.

MCKINNEY: Yeah. I'm sure we had a lot to do with it.

PESCA: Yeah, yeah.

MARTIN: Ian?

IAN CHILLAG: Good morning.

MARTIN: Good morning.

CHILLAG: I have a most-emailed from Yahoo! News.

MARTIN: Mm-hm.

CHILLAG: I was pretty excited about the Boy George tour, supposed to start July, 11th.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHILLAG: You guys pretty excited?

MATT MARTINEZ: You've been talking about it nonstop, man.

CHILLAG: Yeah. I know.

PESCA: You've been dressing in drag all week.

CHILLAG: That's not drag. That's my style. Yeah, so it's off, though.

MARTIN: Oh!

MARTINEZ: D'oh!

CHILLAG: Boy George has been denied a visa.

MARTIN: What?

CHILLAG: U.S. authorities cited some looming legal issues overseas.

MARTIN: Oh, oh!

CHILLAG: You may recall he was accused of false imprisonment and assault.

MCKINNEY: Ooh.

CHILLAG: His lawyers...

PESCA: Guilty of imprisoning us with his lyrical greatness?

MARTIN: I thought it was something way...

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHILLAG: Yeah. His lawyers in London have - are not talking about it, but George, quote, "in a statement, is astounded at the decision," and his lawyers here in the States are looking at it, and hoping someone will change their mind.

MARTIN: Do his friends call him Boy? Is that his first name?

CHILLAG: Well, that's - that was the weird thing about this article, is he's quoted as George, which seems like - I guess that's a first and last name...

PASHMAN: I'm pretty sure his last name is George. I think when I was living in London, I might have seen "The Boy George Story."

MCKINNEY: His name's George Dowd.

MARTIN: Oh!

PASHMAN: There you go.

MCKINNEY: Isn't that Dowd?

MARTIN: I have no idea.

MCKINNEY: I'll have to look it up.

MARTIN: I have absolutely no clue.

PESCA: Anyway...

MARTIN: Well, that's sad. I'm sorry for you.

PASHMAN: You said that with such confidence, Trish, and then it just withered away pretty quickly there.

CHILLAG: I think...

MCKINNEY: Welcome to my world.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: George Alan O'Dowd.

CHILLAG: I think for all those sad - O'Dowd. All those sad George Alan O'Dowd fans out there. Here's a little something for you.

MARTIN: Oh good!

(Soundbite of song "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?")

Mr. GEORGE ALAN O'DOWD: (Singing) Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cry? Precious kisses, words that burn me. Lovers never ask you why.

CHILLAG: Now this song, if you listen to the lyrics, has a lot of - a lot of relevant lines. You know, he could say, I could wait 1,000 years until I go over to America for my tour. That's - I added the second part of that, but you know, so. Listen up.

(Soundbite of song "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?)

Mr. O'DOWD: (Singing) In my heart the fire is burning...

MARTIN: Oh man. Gets me every time.

PESCA: Perhaps it was his association with the Church of the Poisoned Mind that raised the ire of U.S. officials.

MARTIN: Really did him in.

PESCA: Rachel?

MARTIN: OK. I have the second most-emailed story at cnn.com. America, these United States, is about to nominate its first female four-star general. This woman has been nominated by the Pentagon. They announced it on Monday. President Bush nominated Lieutenant General Ann E. Dunwoody to serve as head of the Army's supply arm. Now, by law, women can't take part in combat jobs in the military, which is the typical path to four-star rank, and so that's why you've seen - not seen very many women in those positions, but apparently, Ann is going to be the first. She still has to be...

PESCA: You know, calling her Ann...

MARTIN: Confirmed. I'm sorry.

PESCA: Is really sexist.

CHILLAG: I think you're supposed to call her General Dunwoody. Why don't you just call her "sweetie," Rachel?

PESCA: Yeah.

MARTIN: Easy. Only I can say that. You guys can't say that.

PESCA: Is it old Petty (ph) Petraeus over here? Yeah. Yeah.

MARTIN: But I can call her Ann. Anyway, that's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

PESCA: OK.

MARTIN: Congratulations, general. That's all I have to say.

PESCA: Even though it's not Thursday, more women news, as we go to the number one story in a lot of places, like CNN and the Rocky Mountain News. "Sports bra saves hiker stranded in the Alps." Yes, a 24-year-old American was stranded for three days, but then she unclasped her sports bra, kept her shirt on, because she knew she'd need that for warmth, hooked the sports bra to some sort of rescue poll, signaled the rescuers. Very clever girl, sports bra saved her life.

MARTIN: Get on you, lady.

MATT MARTINEZ: All right. And I've got a most-emailed here from npr.org. Most-viewed, most-emailed, as you might expect, George Carlin is all over the Most lists on npr.org. The comedian passed away over the weekend at age 71, and they posted some clips of a 2004 interview that Carlin did on WHYY's Fresh Air, as Ian - the show Ian used to know so well.

CHILLAG: I remember it.

MARTINEZ: Indeed. So here's George Carlin speaking with Terry Gross, and he begins talking about the power of shocking language.

(Soundbite of reverse playback)

(Soundbite of WHYY's Fresh Air)

Mr. GEORGE CARLIN (Comedian): It's superstitious. These words have no power. We give them this power by refusing to be free and easy with them. We give them great power over us. They really in themselves have no power. It's the rest of the sentence that makes them either good or bad.

TERRY GROSS: In your 1972 recording, you talk about how it's perfectly OK to say, don't prick your finger.

Mr. CARLIN: Mm-hm.

GROSS: But you can't say don't finger your blank.

Mr. CARLIN: Yeah. You can't reverse the two.

GROSS: You can't reverse the two words. So, comics work with the power of word.

Mr. CARLIN: Mm-hm.

GROSS: And in a way, the fact that certain words are supposed to be taboo, as you point out, that gives them power.

Mr. CARLIN: Yes. That's right.

GROSS: And that makes those words more powerful for you, when you want to use them. So, do you feel like you've been able to work with the taboo nature of certain words and, you know, make that work in your favor?

Mr. CARLIN: Well, what...

GROSS: Like in that classic routine.

Mr. CARLIN: Yeah. That is an interestingly disguised way, and I don't mean you were trying to deceive me or anything, but it's a disguised way of saying, well, don't some people just use these for shock value? You get this phrase all the time from interviewers, "shock value." Well, shock is a kind of a heightened form of surprise, and surprise is at the heart of comedy. So, if you're using the word in a way to heighten the impact of the sentence, or season the stew - they are after all great seasonings.

There are sentences that without the use of hell, or damn, even, lose all their impact. So, they have a proper place in language, and in my case, I just like them because they are real and they do have impact. They do make a difference in the sentence. But if you're using them for their own sake, that's probably kind of weak. If you're using them in some way that you feel enhances what you're doing in delivering, that's another thing.

(Soundbite of reverse playback)

GROSS: You have always talked about language in your comedy, and one of the things you talk about in your new book is - well, you describe political correctness as America's newest form of intolerance.

Mr. CARLIN: Yeah.

GROSS: How do you see political correctness as actually a form of intolerance?

Mr. CARLIN: Well, because it dictates ways of speaking, and therefore, thinking, that a person may not be comfortable with, or agree 100 percent with. It's sort of a diktat, and it is intolerant of other - I'm not saying it shouldn't be intolerant of blatant racism, or something like that, but there are gradations in these so-called offenses, and they don't all qualify for the same, I think, kind of - you know, the problem with it, is that it's censorship from the left, which I, for one, wasn't expecting. You know, we sort of get used to the fact that more conservative regimes, in various places around the world, try to do a lot to control the way we think and speak, but we don't expect it from our liberal democracies so much.

(Soundbite of reverse playback)

GROSS: Did language get you into trouble as a kid?

Mr. CARLIN: Well, I - because I liked language - as I was saying, my grandfather wrote out all the works of Shakespeare in his adult life longhand, because of the joy it gave him. Those were his words, I do it for the joy it gives me. So that gene was active in our family, so I had that as I actually described earlier. But I then started collecting exotic combinations of curses that I heard in my neighborhood.

I was probably 13 or 14 at the time, and there were guys who would put together a sentence in the heat of anger, or in some ornate, descriptive passage in something they were describing, and they would have an adjective or two, self-hyphenated. They would have made up a form, and tacked it onto some noun that it didn't really go with, and the rest of the sentence might have been some colorful verb that was, again, very inventive of street language, but I wrote them down and I had a little list of them.

I had about 10 or 12 of them. There are a few I can still remember, but I've had that in my wallet, and my mother was a snoop and discovered things I had stolen that way, and confronted me with them. But in this case in looking in my wallet, she found this list, and I heard her - I came in one night and I opened the door very slightly in the apartment on the second floor, and I heard her talking to my Uncle John, and she was worried about me anyway, because I was kind of - I was getting like a loosed - to be a loose-cannon kind of adolescent, and I heard her saying...

(Whispering) I think he may need a psychiatrist, John.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CARLIN: I think we may have to get a child psychologist for him. Because she was telling him these words and showing him this list. So yeah, they got me in trouble that way, but at least it was a creative effort.

(Soundbite of music)

PESCA: That was comedian George Carlin in a 2004 interview on WHYY's Fresh Air. For links to that and all the stories from The Most, go to npr.org/bryantpark.

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