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BROWSE ARCHIVE

April 29, 2009

Best Author Interviews and Talks on Audio & Video

author_interviews_blog.jpgCheck out audio & video of 25 interviews and talks with top authors of contemporary literature. Have a look at LearnOutLoud's selection of 25 contemporary literature resources, including audio & video from the top authors to emerge in the modern era. For years we've been keeping up with the newest free talks and author interviews, which we periodically share as part of our Free Resource of the Day Emails. In this list, you'll find in-depth discussions with key modern literary authors, such as Margaret Atwood, Joan Didion, Garrison Keillor, Frank McCourt, Amy Tan, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut and many more. Always keeping our eye on what's fresh, this list also makes room for 21st century voices, such as Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini, Modern Fantasy king Neil Gaiman, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, and talented modern innovators like Jonathan Franzen. Get our take on the best voices in poetry, literary journalism, fiction and more by clicking any of the links below:

1. Wired for Books MP3 Page

Wired for Books is offering a page full of downloadable MP3 interviews with many of the best authors in contemporary literature. Compiled from the 1980s CBS Radio show, Book Beat, these interviews feature journalist Don Swaim spending roughly a half hour with the author discussing their books. Swaim seems to have done his research and to have read the works of the authors he interviews. The interviews seem very relaxed and off-the-cuff. Here's a list of some of the people Swaim interviews: Douglas Adams, Maya Angelou, Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume, Ray Bradbury, William F. Buckley, Anthony Burgess, William Burroughs, Raymond Carver, Joan Didion, E. L. Doctorow, Bret Easton Ellis, Joseph Heller, John Irving, Erica Jong, Garrison Keillor, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, Amy Tan, Studs Turkel, John Updike, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Elie Wiesel, and hundreds more. Just click to the MP3 page and remember to download these files by right-clicking on the Download File link and selecting Save Target As... Then it will allow you to download the file to an assigned place on your computer. Enjoy.

2. In Depth: Tom Wolfe

In this streaming video from C-SPAN's BookTV, Tom Wolfe talks about his career as writer from The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby which he wrote back in the 1960s all the way up to his latest novel I Am Charlotte Simmons which explores the college campus life in the present day. He fields call-in questions from people across the United States and tells us the secrets of his craft. Indeed, no writer today is as fun to listen to as Tom Wolfe.

3. Allen Ginsberg Poetry Readings

Allen Ginsberg's Howl is ultimate beat poem, and what better way to experience it than listening to Ginsberg read it himself. PennSound features two recordings of Ginsberg reading Howl, one from 1956 (the year he published it) and one from 1995 (a few years before his death). PennSound also features Ginsberg reading some other of his classic beat poems like Kaddish and Wichita Vortex Sutra. All these poems are available to download on MP3.

4. The Infinite Mind Interview with Kurt Vonnegut Live from Second Life

Recently American author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. passed away at the age of 84. Watch one of his last interviews which was conducted by John Hockenberry of The Infinite Mind series, and recorded live in the virtual on-line community called Second Life. It's a thoroughly entertaining interview with questions from the Second Life audience and Vonnegut's thoughts on America towards the end of his life. He also discusses his final work which is a collection of essays entitled A Man Without a Country. This streaming video is offered by Lichtenstein Creative Media and is available through Google Video.

5. An Evening with Ray Bradbury

Renowned science fiction author Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles) gives aspiring writers some encouraging insight in this short lecture provided on streaming video by UCTV. Beginning with a list of essential practices he feels all writers should adhere to, Bradbury then demonstrates how events and people in his personal life fed his classic stories. Inspiring, funny and delivered with irreverent wisdom, Bradbury's account of his career is a sincere argument for "writing what you know". This talk is available on streaming video through Google Video.

6. The 20th Century on Trial: Norman Mailer

In one of Norman Mailer's last public appearances (he passed away a few months later in November of 2007), this acclaimed author talks about his complex relationship with America. He looks back at his own literary career and offers his ideas on existentialism. Towards the end of the interview German author Gunter Grass joins him in conversation and they discuss Adolf Hitler who was the subject of Mailer's final novel The Castle in the Forest. In this interview Mailer conveys his sharp wit and clear insights that were with him until the end. This talk was moderated by Andrew O'Hagan and conducted at the New York Public Library. It is available on streaming audio and MP3 download from FORA.tv.

7. Douglas Adams: Parrots, the Universe, and Everything

Immerse yourself into the mind of Douglas Adams. The author The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy graced the world with one final appearance just days before his tragic death from a heart attack on May 11, 2001. Delivered at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Adams discusses his own personal favorite of his books Last Chance to See about his travels to faraway lands to see firsthand many endangered animal species such as the Aye-aye lemur of Madagascar, the Komodo dragon on the island of Komodo in Indonesia, and the Yangtze River Dolphin in China. With his own hilarious insights he describes these animals and his wild travels to observe them. He ends the talk by urging humanity to envision their place in the world in a way that can sustain all species including humans. This talk is available through YouTube on streaming video and video download.

8. Joan Didion: Revelle Forum at the Neurosciences Institute

In this conversation with American writer Joan Didion, she discusses her 2001 collection of essays Political Fictions in which she explores the disconnect between the political class and the American public. She touches on many issues addressed in her book regarding the electoral process, political pundits, Clinton's impeachment, and the election of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. This talk was conducted at UC-San Diego and is available on streaming and downloadable video through Google Video.

9. In Depth: John Updike

In this generous 3-hour interview provided on streaming video by BookTV, John Updike talks about his life as a writer and observer of the human condition. Last week the literary world mourned the death of Updike who's literary reputation places him among the likes of Mailer, Vonnegut and Roth as one of the great contemporary American novelists. Here you can watch him as he examines his childhood, discusses his early start with the New Yorker Magazine, and answers questions about his prolific career as an author and literary critic. This streaming video is available through the BookTV website.

10. Joyce Carol Oates: Lannan Readings & Conversations

Listen to a reading from one of America's most versatile and prolific writers: Joyce Carol Oates. She pulls no punches in her public reading, as she reads from her novella Rape: A Love Story. Oates' narration adds new dimension to the main character who is reflecting on being the victim of a rape. After the reading, the host from public radio's Bookworm has a conversation with Oates about the piece and much else. Enjoy this streaming audio from the Lannan Foundation.

11. Harold Pinter - 2005 Nobel Lecture

The English playwright Harold Pinter passed away a few days ago at the age of 78. Listen to his lecture delivered upon the receipt of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature. In this lecture Pinter examines the truths unto which he sought after in his plays and his life as a citizen. After elaborating on his creative process, he explains the difference between art and politics and then examines America's role in global politics since World War II. He briefly covers the past military conflicts in Latin America along with the current war in Iraq. This 45 minute lecture is available on streaming video from NoblePrize.org.

12. Meet the Poet: Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni has been publishing works of poetry in America for over 30 years. In this talk from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she tells many stories from her life and reads from her 2002 collection of poetry Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems. Giovanni is candid and full of humor as she tells about how Mars astronauts can learn from African slavery, how Rosa Parks actively stood up against the murder of Emmett Till when she refused to move from her bus seat, and how one should confront prejudice in contemporary society. This talk can be heard on streaming audio and video from the WGBH Forum Network.

13. In Depth: Susan Sontag

One of our favorite free video resources is the C-SPAN BookTV series In Depth. This series features 3-hour long interviews with America's greatest and most prolific authors towards the latter part of their careers. Included in the interviews are questions from callers across the United States, that always make for interesting discussion. This free video includes the first two hours of the video interview (the last hour gets cut off) with the late author & activist Susan Sontag. She answers questions about politics, movies, and the many nonfiction & fiction books she has written throughout her career. Watch this free streaming video from BookTV.

14. Arthur C. Clarke's 90th Birthday Reflections

Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke recently passed away at the age of 90. In this brief video supplied by TVE Asia Pacific, Clarke reflects on his life from his home in Sri Lanka as he turned 90 in December of 2007. He considers the great achievements in space travel which he saw during his lifetime and is hopeful that space travel will be something that many can enjoy in the future. He also provides three wishes for the planet as he surpasses his 90th orbit around the sun. This video is available through YouTube.

15. Frank McCourt: Teacher Man

The author of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis treats us to stories of life as a public school teacher in this downloadable audio lecture released by WGBH. Writer Frank McCourt spent 30 years of his adult life teaching in the New York Public school system before later writing his acclaimed memoirs in retirement. Here he praises the teacher's effort to help children find their footing in the world, and relates to us the trials and tribulations he faced as a young inexperienced teacher in a sometimes hostile classroom.

16. Vanity Fair's Writers Reading Podcast

Vanity Fair's Writers Reading Podcast features many of today's best authors reading from their latest books. Past podcasts have featured award-winning prison journalist Wilbert Rideau read from his book In the Place of Justice, Norris Church Mailer reading from her memoir about her life with her husband Norman Mailer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills reading from his new book Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State, Jonathan Safran Foer on his first nonfiction work exploring factory farming entitled Eating Animals, and many other highly respected writers including Augusten Burroughs, Tracy Kidder, Taylor Branch, Gay Talese, Jay McInerney, and more.

17. A Remembrance of Playwright Arthur Miller

American playwright Arthur Miller was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and best known for his plays The Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. In this interview recorded towards the end of this life Arthur Miller sits down with Charlie Rose and discusses his life as a playwright. He also gives his thoughts on the state of theater in America today, his marriage with Marilyn Monroe, and what he feels were his greatest successes and biggest regrets. He talks about why the theater was his medium and why he never really could write novels or screenplays. It's an interesting talk with one of America's great playwrights.

18. Amy Tan on Creativity

In this TED Talk author Amy Tan probes into the roots of creativity or how "out of nothing comes something". She examines her own life and the many influences that have fed into her novels. She also tells of the many fascinating coincidences that have happened to her over the years at key moments of creativity. It's an intriguing and often humorous talk from a beloved author. This talk is available on streaming video and audio & video download.

19. Alice Walker: We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For

Today's free resource is a lecture by author Alice Walker who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 for her novel The Color Purple. She has written dozens of novels, poetry collections, and nonfiction books and in this talk she reads from one of her latest works We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For which is a collection of meditations and essays. In the lecture she talks about her days in the civil rights movement following Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the grieving process she had to go through after he was assassinated. Listen to some interesting stories from author Alice Walker. This talk is available on streaming audio and MP3 download from the Fourm Network (formerly the WGBH Forum Network).

20. Margaret Atwood: Lannan Readings and Conversations

With the dry wit that has come to make her a literary icon, Margaret Atwood reads selections from her work and discusses writing in this audio download released by the Lannan Foundation. At times bleak, often humorous and always probing, Atwood's work is devoted to exploring the underbelly of modern experience, with special attention given to how the future may take shape if current dubious trends continue to their natural conclusion. While the material she presents is in some ways sobering, Atwood maintains a satirical tone that offsets it all, revealing a writer that is ultimately optimistic, self-deprecating and always searching. This event is available on streaming audio and MP3 download.

21. John Elder Robison & Augusten Burroughs: Live From B&N

In this talk offered by Barnes & Noble, Augusten Burroughs interviews his brother John Elder Robison about his memoir Look Me in the Eye. Robison's biography covers growing up with Asperger's Syndrome which he was diagnosed with later in life. John Elder Robison reads stories from his book and Augusten Burroughs asks him questions and provides color commentary on growing up with his elder brother. This talk is available on streaming video and audio download from Barnes & Noble Media.

22. Khaled Hosseini: A Thousand Splendid Suns

In this talk from the Book Group Expo, Khaled Hosseini, author of the bestselling novel The Kite Runner, discusses his latest work A Thousand Splendid Suns. He reads a short dramatic piece from the book and then answers questions about writing the book and about women in Afghanistan which the book explores. This talk is available on streaming video and MP3 download on FORA.tv.

23. Authors@Google: Neil Gaiman

Fan-favorite fantasy author Neil Gaiman regales viewers with stories of his life as a writer in this streaming video lecture provided by Authors@Google. After reading a short selection of poetry from his latest book, Gaiman talks of his latest adventures with the slightly detached and unassuming attitude of an author quick to note how lucky he feels with his own success. Here you will find out about his screenwriting duties on the newest film version of Beowulf, his views on the current renaissance in children's literature and the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel. This video is available streaming video on YouTube.

24. Elizabeth Gilbert: A Different Way to Think About Creative Genius

Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert examines the way society looks at artists and the way artists look at themselves in this TED talk. She feels that the creative people should view their work as channeling God's creative gift to them rather than as their own personal creative genius. And she hopes such a shift might prevent some of the madness and self-destruction that occurs in so many of our modern artists. This talk is available on streaming video and MP3 download from the TED.com website.

25. Jonathan Franzen on The Discomfort Zone

In this book reading and discussion delivered at the Miami Book Fair International, Jonathan Franzen (author of the National Book Award-winning novel The Corrections) discusses his memoir The Discomfort Zone. The book explores his childhood growing up in suburban St. Louis, and he reads a lengthy portion of the opening of the book which describes the ordeal of selling his mother's house and the memories it sparks. The reading is followed by questions mostly which touch on the process of writing a memoir. Enjoy this humorous reading from popular author Jonathan Franzen. It is available on streaming video through FORA.tv.