Penn Stewart's novel Fertile Ground covers some historical ground that's unfamiliar to most of us: the families and fates of German nationals interned in the U.S. during World War II. We talked about that book, some of the research behind it, and some of his marvelous short stories.
Jessica Bastian, a librarian at Illinois Central College, has helped choose books for the One Book, One College program. We talked about the computer-gaming, dystopian, 1980s-nostalgic novel by Ernest Cline Ready Player One, which has been the book for 2014-15, and Civil Rights hero John Lewis's graphic autobiographic The March, which is the book for 2015-16.
Pepper Bauer--fiction writer, essayist, journalist, activist--has published a lot of work locally in Central Illinois, especially in Downstate Story and in the Limestone Independent News. We talked about her realistic fiction and about her science fiction set in a dystopian world of total corporate control. She is also leader of the Foodshare Can-a-thon, a huge annual project to fund and stock local food pantries in Central Illinois.
Hale Garrison's play Humanity Stew premiers this month, February 2015 at Peoria's Cornstock Theatre. No, it's not about cannibalism. It's a collection of seven short comedies knitted by an over all narrative involving a grandfather and granddaughter. We talked about the play and the writing of it as well as about Hale's experience directing for the first time last year--Woody Allen's Honeymoon Motel.
Our late colleague at Illinois Central College, Philosophy professor Ed Abplanalp, wrote poetry. A collection of his poems,Postmodern Shamanism, has just been published posthumously. It is amazingly good work, and everybody should read it. Sarah Parlier and I discuss what we loved about Ed and admired about his work. Sarah reads some of Ed's poems beautifully.
Stephanie Guedet talks about her scholarly and personal fascination with various kinds of autobiographical writing. We discussed issues of candor, accuracy, and lying, as well as the way writing one's life is a way to shape it. She also discussed her admiration for the memoirs of Mary Karr, especially her books The Liar's Club, Cherry, and Lit.
Our colleague Illinois Central College colleague Ed Abplanalp died in 2014. He was a Philosophy professor who also wrote poetry. Susan Hillabold, Paul Resnick, and I talked about Ed's poems, looking over advance copies of a collection of his poems that will be published in 2015.
Doug Day is an actor and a director. We talked about his recent staged reading of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and about his experience adapting other works for stage performances. He wrote a stage adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and he also did a modern update of Moliere's classic French comedy The Imaginary Invalid.
Nick Walker and I talked about his poetry, including how reading Walt Whitman helped him realize that this stuff he'd been writing could be called poetry. He also discussed the uses of poetry in everyday life.
Illinois Central College has started a One Book, One College program in which everyone is encouraged to read the same book. The inaugural choice is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, a novel set in a dystopian, gamified world of the 2040s. Amy Glass, a librarian at ICC, has graciously agreed to have a conversation with me about this engaging page-turner and what it says about our current world.