July 13: What's On Today's Show : Blog Of The Nation In the first hour of Talk of the Nation, the political junkie looks at the week in politics, and Ahmed Rashid comments on Ahmed Wali Karzai's influence on Afghanistan. In the second hour, the author of The Memoir Project explains how to write a good memoir, and economic lessons of The Great Depression.
NPR logo July 13: What's On Today's Show

July 13: What's On Today's Show

Everyone has a story, but how do you make it interesting? In the second hour, Marion Roach Smith, author of The Memoir Project, explains how to write a good memoir. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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The Political Junkie
The president and Congressional leaders meet again today, but there appears to be no progress on a deal to reduce the deficit and raise the debt ceiling. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lashing out Tuesday on the Senate floor, saying no deal could be reached while President Barack Obama is in office. But by day's end he offered a back up plan that shifted the responsibility for raising the debt ceiling to the president himself. Host Neal Conan and Ken Rudin will discuss who wins and who loses in the politics of the debt ceiling. The two will also recap the week in politics from a special congressional election in Southern California to GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty going on the offensive against Michele Bachmann.

Ahmed Wali Karzai
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the younger half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was assassinated in his Kandahar home by one of his body guards on Tuesday. The controversial power broker was known for making deals with many of Afghanistan's tribes, militias, and insurgent groups. He was also alleged to be a corrupt enforcer, a drug smuggler and a CIA asset. Senior American and NATO officers in Afghanistan have wanted Karzai gone for many years now. But in an op-ed for The New York Times, Ahmed Rashid argues that without Karzai, "Afghanistan just got more dangerous and unpredictable." Neal Conan talks with Rashid about Karzai's influence on Afghanistan and the future of the country without him.

'The Memoir Project'
Everyone has a story to tell, but memoir writer and instructor Marion Roach Smith says making those stories readable — and interesting — is harder than it looks. In her new book, The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text For Writing And Life, Roach Smith argues that too many aspiring memoirists try cramming every poignant or whimsical memory onto the page — and fail to relate their story to universal themes about the human experience. Whether it's a letter to a child, a post on a blog or a book for publication, if you want someone to read your memoir, she says, you must have laser-beam focus, countless drafts, and diligent observation of the little exchanges and emotions that make up day-to-day life. Neal Conan talks with Roach Smith about how to write memoir — and how to do it well.

Lessons Of The Great Depression
Talks between President Barack Obama and his GOP rivals continue with no deal in sight as the deadline for raising the debt ceiling draws closer. A CNN poll conducted last month found that almost half of Americans believe another Great Depression is "very likely" or "somewhat likely" in the next 12 months. In a recent piece in The Washington Post "Outlook" section, Robert McElvaine, a history professor at Millsaps College, argued that many Americans and politicians misunderstand what went wrong during the Great Depression and risk leading the country into another one. Host Neal Conan talks with McElvaine about the economic lessons from the Great Depression.