Thursday, July 17, 2008

Talking About Books: The First Episode of Open Book

Books and authors, which never really caught on with television (although I remain hopeful for "Inside the Writer's Studio," or some similar TV show), seem to have a shot on the internet. First came Titlepage, which features four authors in a round table discussion about their books and literary culture in general, and now Slate has launched Open Book, an interview show that focuses on a single author.

The first episode of Open Book (discussed earlier on The Millions and the Avery Anthology blog) features reigning Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz discussing The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, as well as his childhood in the Dominican Republic, and why it took him so damn long to publish Oscar Wao. I agree with Emma over at Avery when she says that Diaz seems more relaxed than the guests on Titlepage, but I found something about the set to be distracting. It might be the projection screen walls they've got going on. I don't know. I spent half the show trying to make out what was happening through the screen (I think there's a picture of one of those rooftop water tanks they have in New York, right?). Also, I don't believe I've ever seen a show where there were two interviewers and only one guest. It makes it seem like an inquisition more than an interview (That would be a great name for an interview show, huh? "The Inquisition with Patrick Brown"...maybe that's what we'll call the Vroman's Podcast from now on).

As for Diaz, he's a fun interview, and it's kind of amazing that he read and reread all those sci-fi novels so that he could drop the casual jokes that he did in Oscar Wao. And, I dig his shirt, although I'm not entirely sure I could carry it off.

Anyway, check out the interview for yourself and tell me what you think. (And if you haven't read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, do it! It's a great book and it's fun, damn it!)

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At 1:26 PM, Blogger Don said...

I though his appearance on the Colbert Report was a bit embarrassing. He had a big sci-fi nerd ready to talk with him and he seemed to completely freeze up. I hope the internet interview came out better.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

Hi Don,

I didn't see him on Colbert, but I imagine that national TV is a fairly terrifying experience for an author who's more used to print media, etc. Hang on while I go watch it...Okay, yeah, he was a little overwhelmed by Steve Colbert (who I thought was a touch overbearing). Shows like the Daily Show and Colbert are weird, because they're some of the only shows that have authors like this on, but then the interviews are always subservient to the jokes, like the only purpose of the interview is to get to the ten or so scripted jokes. I thought he was eloquent and funny in the Open Book interview. The truth is that most authors are a little uncomfortable out in the bright lights of a stage. Maybe it's from all those hours spent alone behind a computer.

Anyway, thanks for commenting Don.

At 3:19 PM, Blogger Anne said...

You have my vote for The Inquisition with Patrick Brown.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger e said...

How about Booksquirm? That way if the authors freeze up it's not so unexpected.

Then again, I have a lot of bad ideas.


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