The Biblio File Hosted by Nigel Beale
Twenty - forty minute interviews with accomplished authors, publishers, biblio people, conducted by an excitable bibliophile.


Rivka Galchen was born in Toronto. She grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, where her father, Tzvi Gal-Chen, was a professor of meterology at the University of Oklahoma. Her novel Atmospheric Disturbances features a character with the same name, Tzvi Gal-Chen, a professor of meterology and a fellow of the (fictional) Royal Academy of Meterology.

Galchen attended Princeton University, where she was an English major, and applied in her sophomore year to an early-admissions program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She received her M.D. from Mount Sinai in 2003, with a focus in psychiatry. After completing medical school, she completed an MFA at Columbia University. Farcically, Atmospheric Disturbances was nominated for Canada’s Governor General’s Award for fiction (she left the country when she was four years old). No way she was going to win; still, on the flip side, provides nice exposure for both prize and author.

We talk here among other things about denial, death, fathers, unreliable narrators, James Wood, Walter Benjamin, science, consensus knowledge, and being stoned.

Please listen here:

Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 8:34am EDT

Nam Le has won this year’s £60,000 Dylan Thomas Prize. It recognizes the best young writer in the English-speaking world with the goal of ensuring that the inspirational nature of Dylan’s writing lives on.

I met with Nam in Toronto recently at the IFOA. This is part two of a series of interviews conducted with three acclaimed short storywriters: Rebecca Rosenblum, Nam Le, and Anne Enright. In each case we riff off those qualities which Flannery O’Connor thought best constituted a good short story. I’ve listed some of them here.

Nam Le is author of The Boat, a collection of ’stories that take us from the slums of Colombia to the streets of Tehran; from New York City to Iowa City; from a fishing village in Australia to a floundering vessel in the South China Sea, in a masterful display of literary virtuosity and feeling.’

We talk, among other things, about never condescending to the reader, the prose having to be smarter than its author: tapping into things seen, but a just beyond their ken; gaps and allowing the reader to put their experiences into them; getting into the consciousness of characters; relinquishing ego; the difficulty of writing short stories — and the greatness of those who can do it well; spring-boarding detail and gearing it for expansion; and affecting paradoxical senses of recognition, wonder and redemption.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Please listen here:

Direct download: Nam_Le.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 7:34pm EDT

Joseph Boyden has just won  The 2008 Giller Prize  for his novel Through Black Spruce.  We talk here about the novel, and the psychic distance Joseph requires to write novels about Northern Ontario and the Cree; the similarities between North and South, James Bay and New Orleans; snowmobiling over vast amounts of snow-covered bush, isolation in the wilderness; bridges between communities, oral culture, First Nation humour, respect for myths and legends, and soapboxes. Please excuse the abrupt ending!

For more interviews and book reviews Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Joseph_Boyden1.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:00pm EDT

Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library, founded in 1946, is a not-for-profit organization for people interested in books and libraries. Its purpose is to stimulate public interest in the library, purchase library materials, and support other cultural and educational programs in Tompkins County. Each year since inception the Friends have held a book sale in Ithaca New York.

It now ranks among the ten largest (250,000 to 300,000 books, CDs, records, etc. per year) in the United States.

Beryl Barr

is the currently in charge of the Book Sale. I talked with her recently, and asked her to give listeners her top ten hints on how best to run a used book sale.

Here’s our conversation:

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Beryl_Barr_Ithaca_Book_Sale.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 5:08pm EDT

Listen to my interview with Aleksandar Hemon on his National Book Award nominated novel The Lazarus Project here at The Quarterly Conversation.

Direct download: Aleksandar_Hemon.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 3:44pm EDT

David Curruthers, owner proprietor of St. Armand Papers in Montreal takes us through the process of how he produces paper that is used in the letterpress printing of books. We talk about pure fibre rags, old jute coffee bags, cover stock, denim and blue paper, beaters, pulp, and vat-like structures for pulp and machines that take 95% of the moisture out of the pulp and flatten it so that it can been stored in sheets that look and feel like blotting  paper and then treated with substances such as potato starch, clay and/or chalk, depending upon the end use of the paper. We also talk about opacity, smooth laid paper, end leafs, machine grain and bookmarks.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

For more interviews and book reviews

Direct download: David_Curruthers_St._Armand_Papers.mp3
Category:Book Publishers -- posted at: 8:13am EDT


I first heard about Michael Lista in a workshop conducted by Meeka Walsh, Editor of Border Crossings magazine. She raved about him: "Michael is a remarkably gifted young poet who lives in Montreal. He has a special interest in the points of intesection between science and poetics."

These points live dramatically in the person of Louis Slotin, a scientist from Winnipeg involved in the Manhattan project and development of the atomic bomb, and Lista’s desire to capture a day in his life. On May 21, 1946, Slotin conducted a dangerous experiment referred to by his fellow scientists as "tickling the dragon’s tail." Using a framework of existing poems, in the way that James Joyce used Homer’s Odyssey, Lista has borderline plagarized them in a collection which documents this May day.  The book will be entitled Bloom. Anansi will publish it.

"Out of admiration for the virtuosity of Slotin’s achievements - with the attendant hubris and arrogance necessary to take risks and make anything new - and taking on those qualities in his own work, Lista’s poems do glitter, but more lastingly than that word would suggest. Dazzle too has a showiness I don’t mean to imply but the wit is so apparent. At the same time the tone is held and is exactly what the subject requires in this poetic construction."

Revisiting my Salon des Refuses experience in the last post, I am reminded of how rarely one encounters great literary work. Poetry especially. Pablo Neruda, Ted Hughes, Robin Robertson…I knew immediately upon first reading their poems that something extraordinary was happening. Their words rubbed up against my experience and sensibilities in ways that satisfied like few others have.

I felt something of this while reading the handful of poems Michael sent me (please find three in a future post) in advance of our conversation. We talk here about the suicidal dangers of emulating Joyce’s Ulysses, and the book’s unapproachability; punning, the multiple meanings of bloom, epiphanies, coincidences, translation, sex and physics, life and death.

For more interviews and book reviews

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Michael_Lista.mp3
Category:Poets -- posted at: 11:04am EDT

This is part one of a series of interviews conducted with three acclaimed short storywriters: Rebecca Rosenblum, Nam Le, and Anne Enright. In each case we riff off those qualities which Flannery O’Connor thought best constituted a good short story. I’ve listed some of them here.

We start with Rebecca Rosenblum, author of Once, " a collection of sixteen stories portraying the constricted and confused lives of the rootless twenty-somethings — students, office techies, waitresses, warehouse labourers, street hustlers — who inhabit them. These are stories grounded in the all-too-real comedy and tragedy of jobs and friendships and romances, books and buses and bodies." This debut collection won The Metcalf Rooke Award.

 Please listen here:

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Rebecca_Rosenblum.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 1:45pm EDT