"B & Me" -- The Writer as Reader...and Fan, and Critic, and Commentator, Etc. (Encore Presentation)
(Note: This interview originally aired back in March.) On this edition of ST, we speak with the writer J.C. Hallman, who was raised in Southern California, studied at the University of Pittsburgh and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and now teaches at Oklahoma State University. We speak about his widely acclaimed new work of "creative criticism" -- published by Simon & Schuster -- called "B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal." Hallman's book is a funny, smart, far-reaching, and often insightful meditation on the life and literary development of the contemporary American writer Nicholson Baker -- who himself once wrote a similar book about John Updike called "U & I." But "B & Me" is also an engaging exploration of our culture's relationship to books in a digital and screen-defined age, the role of art in an increasingly commodified world, the power that good books have to both change us and help us grow, and so on. And further, as was noted of this book in a starred review in Publishers Weekly: "Witty.... Hallman is a talented writer.... 'B & Me' is a wide-ranging and idiosyncratic career survey for Nicholson Baker's work, a love letter to the act of reading, and a commentary on the modern novel. It's difficult to do Hallman's work justice, but this is a book that readers will absolutely adore."