Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Shows About Books

The NY Times tells me that Daniel Menaker has left his old position at Random House and will be running a web-based show on books, with interviews -- kind of like a Charlie Rose thing, it seems. Though Menaker looks like a cutie in his rolled-sleeve oxford shirt and curly gray mop-top, I can't imagine I'll be stopping by. I have barely enough time to make the circuit of all my favorite blogs as it is -- watching an interview would seem unbearably time-consuming. I mean, I'd rather actually just read.

And here's a confession: not only do I dislike teevee shows about books, I don't even like books about books. So many memoirs about reading have come out in the last few years, about how the writer's life was affected by reading, about the impact of certain books. Bleah: even though I could possibly write one of those things myself, I have no interest in reading someone else's. I don't quite know why this is, except that maybe the experience the writer is detailing in his memoir is one that is actually available to anyone who reads the same books -- so why not go for the unmediated pleasure? Also, there's also the suspicion that these memoirs aren't actually about the books they purport to be about, but about the amazing sensitivity of the memoirist. Or maybe I just hate being told how to read something.

One show I did used to like was Michael Silverblatt's "Bookworm," which we got on the radio in Montana but don't get here. Actually, I loathed his snobby tone for the longest time, but I got over it eventually and began to enjoy his brainy, weird trains of thought. Ithaca is supposed to be getting its own public radio station in the next year -- WITH -- and maybe we can talk them into carrying that show...

5 comments:

AliciaABeale said...

You can listen to "Bookworm" online through streams. It took me awhile to adjust to Silverblatt too. His style seemed like the Actor's Studio guy, but eventually Silverblatt's genuine intensity won me over.

Matthew Tiffany said...

Yeah, iTunes has Bookworm, also.

myles said...

The only reasonable book about books I've read is Alberto Manguel's "History of Reading". Comprehensive and engaging. The rest of 'em are, it seems, a little ... um, onanistic. I used to read lots of book reviews and magazines, and then I thought, why don't I just read the damn books? So I ditched most of them (except LRB and NYRB) and all but a few book blogs.

And TV shows about books are hopeless. There's one in Australia (The First Tuesday Book Club) which tries to be literary and smart, but it's too superficial. But, hey, it's TV -- it's meant to be superficial.
On the other hand, Radio National's Book Show is a daily dose of smarts about the book world: interviews, readings, news and gossip. (http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bookshow/default.htm)

jrlennon said...

Yeah, geez man, don't quit reading US!

myles said...

Hell, no. You and Bookslut.