1961 -- The Waters of Kronos

The most recent biography of Conrad Richter, David R. Johnson’s Conrad Richter: A Writer’s Life (2001), begins with an introductory chapter attempting to describe Richter’s “dread of public events that bordered on a phobia.” The chapter opens with Richter’s agony over the National Book Award ceremony, this a forced publicity march under the command of publisher Alfred Knopf. Richter had agreed to attend the pre-ceremony news conference, but after one look at the raised platform and microphone he plunked down in the first row of audience chairs, willing to field questions but unwilling to move on-stage. At the award presentations that evening, Richter again remained in the audience when his name was called, Knopf taking the podium to deliver the author’s acceptance speech:

I’m not speaking in person today because my ancestors prevented me. My father was a preacher. My grandfather was a preacher. My uncle and great uncle were preachers. They spoke in public constantly and used up all the talent in the blood stream so that when I came along, unfortunately there wasn’t any left. But I’m grateful that they didn’t all write, or I’d be left in a worse way….

Johnson’s introductory chapter ends by noting that throughout his last years Richter kept a Depression-era photograph of himself in the old corduroy jacket he always wore. Beneath his scowl and awkward stance was Richter’s hand-written, “Smile, **bleep** you, smile.”

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.