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

Herman Melville lived at Arrowhead (so named because of arrowheads found nearby during planting season) from 1850–1863, during which time he wrote some of his best known works:  Moby-Dick,  The Confidence-Man, and The Piazza Tales, a short story collection named after his porch, of which he wrote:

Now, for a house, so situated in such a country, to have no piazza for the convenience of those who might desire to feast upon the view, and take their time and ease about it, seemed as much of an omission as if a picture-gallery should have no bench; for what but picture-galleries are the marble halls of these same limestone hills?—galleries hung, month after month anew, with pictures ever fading into pictures ever fresh.

Built in the 1780s as a farmhouse, it was located adjacent to property owned by Melville's uncle Thomas, who Melville visited in his youth. He purchased the property in 1850 with borrowed money and spent the next twelve years farming and writing. Money problems forced him to sell the property to his brother, and return to New York City in 1863 whereupon he eventually found work as a customs inspector.

The house remained in private hands until 1975, when the Berkshire County Historical Society acquired it and some of the original 160-acre property. The Society restored most of the house to Melville's period and operates it as a house museum; it is open to the public during warmer months.

I visited Arrowhead recently to learn more about why Arrowhead should be on all Literary tourists' bucketlist.  Here's my conversation with Executive Director Betsy Sherman

Direct download: Betsy_Arrowhead_130806_002.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 8:54am EDT

The Mount is a historic site and a cultural center inspired by the passions and achievements of Edith Wharton. Designed and built by  Wharton in 1902, the house embodies the principles outlined in her influential book, The Decoration of Houses (1897). The property includes three acres of formal gardens designed by Wharton, who was also an authority on European landscape design,  surrounded by extensive woodlands. Programming at The Mount reflects Wharton’s core interests in the literary arts, interior design and decoration, garden and landscape design, and the art of living. Annual exhibits explore themes from Wharton’s life and work. In the summer of 2010, The Mount launched Berkshire WordFest, a gathering of writers and readers staged in one of the most beautiful settings in the Berkshires.

I met recently with Kelsey Mullen, Education and Public Programs Coordinator at the Mount, to ask her why the Literary Tourist might want to venture into this neck of the woods.  

Direct download: The_Mount_130806_001.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 8:05pm EDT


Photo: The Mighty Quill

Last week I attended the Kingston WritersFest and interviewed some great authors about 'place' and its relationship to their work. Here I talk with Thomas King about native myth, possibility in storytelling, his love of the Alberta Landscape - especially that which surrounds Lethbridge - and those novels of his which best capture the essence of this spectacular place.

Direct download: Thomas_King_final_130926_002.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 1:58pm EDT

Founded in 1978, Shakespeare & Company aspires to create "a theatre rooted in the classical ideals of inquiry, balance and harmony; [and] a company that performs as the Elizabethans did — in love with poetry, physical prowess and the mysteries of the universe."

Home to more than 150 artists, the company performs Shakespeare in ways which encourage collaboration between actors, directors and designers of all races, nationalities and backgrounds. It also provides training, and develops and produces new plays of social and political significance. The hope is to "inspire a new generation of students and scholars to discover the resonance of Shakespeare’s truths in the everyday world, demonstrating the influence that classical theatre can have within a community".

Its mission is to establish a theatre company which, by its commitment to the creative impulse, is a revolutionary force in society, which connects the truths of the past to the challenges and possibilities of today, which finds its source in the performance of Shakespeare’s plays, and reaches the widest possible audience through training and education as well as performance.

I met recently with Elizabeth Aspenlieder Communications Director/Artistic Associate and Tony Simotes, Artistic Director to talk about why Literary Tourists should visit Shakespeare and Company, and how its programs and plays affect participants and the social and political environments in which they operate. 

Direct download: Shakespeare__Co.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 3:31pm EDT

Poets House is a literary center and poetry archive - a collection and meeting place in New York that invites poets and the public to join the living tradition of poetry. Free and open to the public, Poets House’s 50,000-volume poetry library is among the most comprehensive, open-stacks collections of poetry in the United States. Hosting acclaimed poetry events and workshops, Poets House not only documents the wealth and diversity of modern poetry, it stimulates public dialogue on issues of poetry in culture.

I visited Poet's House recently to speak with Program Director Stephen Motika about why a literary tourist might want stop by here. Please listen to our conversation here:

Direct download: Stephen_Motika_Poets_House.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 11:28am EDT

The Greenwich Village Literary Pub Crawl has been leading tourists into bars rich in bookish history since 1998. Inside each bar, you take a drink and listen as your actor/tour guide tells of the history of the establishment and of the great authors who have hung out, gotten drunk and written there. You’ll get recitations from relevant texts and stops at "unique sites that are literary, historical, or alcoholic in nature." Tours start off every Saturday at 2pm, beginning at the White Horse Tavern, 567 Hudson Street and 11th Street, and last for three hours. (Take the 1 train to Christopher Street; Left on w. 10th to Hudson St.; Right/North on Hudson St. to West 11th Street). Tickets are $20, $15  for students/seniors. To make a reservation call (212) 613-5796.

I caught up with owner Eric Chase at the White Horse recently to learn more about the Crawl and why literary pilgrimage for many assumes such importance.

Direct download: Greenwich_Village_Literary_Pub_Crawl_130515_003.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 1:07pm EDT

Edward Rutherfurd looking Parisien

Edward Rutherfurd was born in England, in the cathedral city of Salisbury. Educated locally, and at the universities of Cambridge, and Stanford, California, he subsequently worked in political research, bookselling and publishing. Abandoning this career in the book trade in 1983, he returned to his childhood home to write SARUM, a historical novel with a ten-thousand year storyline, set in the area around the ancient monument of Stonehenge. It was an instant international bestseller remaining 23 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. Since then he has written six more bestsellers: RUSSKA, a novel of Russia; LONDON; THE FOREST, set in England's New Forest which lies close by Sarum, and two novels which cover the story of Ireland from the time just before Saint Patrick to the twentieth century. In 2009 NEW YORK was published, and in 2013, PARIS.

Rutherfurd is the quintessential Literary Tourist. He 'walks' the cities he writes about, researches them, imagines them, and arrives at a personal understanding of them. We talk here about this process, about the importance of learning about the ordinary lives of people from the past, of writing short stories about the places you visit, and about history as reconnaissance and "finding out what happened to the last army that went there".


Direct download: Edward_Rutherfurd_final.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 11:14am EDT

Creativehuron.ca
Several years ago, well known Canadian author/biographer Charlie Foran, playing the Literary Tourist, travelled to Wingham, Ontario and environs to spend a little time in Alice Munro country. We talked to him recently about his experience.


The power of poetry or what? Listen and learn

I met last month - October, 2012 to be precise, the very month one hundred years ago that Poetry magazine was launched in Chicago - with Stephanie Hlywak, Media Director at the Poetry Foundation to talk about the history, mandate, approach and architecture, not only of the magazine, but also of The Foundation and its impressive new building, and, as if this weren't enough, the place and places of poetry itself in our world. Please listen here:

Direct download: Stephanie_W_Poetry_Foundation121024_001.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 12:42pm EDT

Jason Webster is an Anglo-American crime novelist, travel writer and critic. Born in California he now lives in Valencia, Spain. Webster was educated in England, Egypt and Italy. In 1993 he graduated from Oxford University (St John's College) with a degree in Arabic and Islamic History. His books all involve Spain, and include Duende: A journey in search of Flamenco (2003), which recounts his move here, and his quest to learn flamenco guitar, (itwas long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award); Andalus: Unlocking the secrets of Moorish Spain (2004)  and Sacred Sierra: A year on a Spanish mountain (2009) which describes a year that Webster and his Spanish wife spent living on their mountain farm in eastern Spain working on the land and planting trees with the help of a 12th century Moorish gardening manual.

Or the Bull Kills You (2011) is a crime novel set in Valencia, and the world of bullfighting. It is the first in a  series of detective stories featuring Chief Inspector Max Cámara of the Spanish National Police. It was long-listed for the Crime Writers' Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger.  Death in Valencia (2012), is the second book in the series.

I caught up with Jason recently in Valencia. We met at a sidewalk cafe in the Cabanyal - the real neighbourhood in which his fictional action takes place -  to talk about how those who read and love his novels can get more out of them by visiting this great, colourful Spanish city.

Direct download: Jason_Webster_ZOOM0003_2.mp3
Category:Literary Destinations -- posted at: 8:32am EDT