The Agony Column

Author Interview: Robert Kurson


shadow-diversThe waters off the coast of the Dominican Republic — and New Jersey — are home to wrecks lost to history. But those who explore U-Boats and pirate ships are not just there for treasure; there’s something more that brings them to the brink of death.

Robert Kurson discusses his books Shadow Divers and Pirate Hunters with host Rick Kleffel.

Authors: Robert Repino, Emily Schultz, Ernest Cline






This week on The Agony Column, it’s all apocalypse, all the time.

Author Robert Repino brings on Mort(e), in which your housecat becomes your executioner; Emily Schultz brings on The Blondes and Ernest Cline explains our fascination with video games and science fiction with his book Armada.

Author Adam Benforado



It’s clear that the American justice system has a problem. Rick Kleffel speaks with legal scholar Adam Benforado, who uses neuroscience, psychology and data analysis to examine how justice works. He says it’s our understanding of ‘Ourelves’ that’s the problem. His new book is Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice.

Also on the program is an interview with Annie Jacobson, author of the book, The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top-Secret Military Research Agency.

What an Historic Decision Means for Churches


Following the recent historic decision by the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage — and the decision the same week by the Episcopalian Church to allow same-sex marriage in their Churches – Rick Kleffel talks with openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson.

And on the same program, Adam Benforado uses neuroscience to analyze the biggest flaw in our justice system — humans!

Author Interview: Stephen Witt


witt-how_music_got_free-400Rick Kleffel speaks with reporter Stephen Witt about his book How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century and the Patient Zero of Piracy.

He followed an electronic trail that led him from the most powerful man in American music, to a temporary factory worker and a German genius.

The untold story of the remaking of modern music…

Author Interview: Karen Joy Fowler


fowler_w_coverRick Kleffel is joined by national bestselling writer and Man Booker Award nominee Karen Joy Fowler to discuss Black Glass, her collection of short stories.

Author Interview: Dan Buettner


In 2007, National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner set out to find the places where people lived the longest, healthiest lives.

Rick Kleffel talks to Buettner about the places and the people he discovered, and his new efforts to reverse engineer those conditions. Live long and prosper with Dan Buettner and The Bue Zones Solution.

Author Dan Simmons



Having it Every Way

Reading can provide many delights; you can immerse yourself in a detailed world not your own, you can be led to laughter, engaged by a tense story, endeared to well-drawn characters, enlightened by fiction that draws from history. In ‘The Fifth heart,’ Dan Simmons does all of these, pretty much at once, with an ease that makes it all deceptively fun.

The setup is smart and fast. We meet Henry James in 1893, considering suicide as he stands on the bank of the Seine River. He’s joined by a tall fellow with an aquiline profile who advises him to reconsider. This man introduces himself as Sherlock Holmes, and he confides in James that he too was considering suicide because, after the incident at Reichenbach Falls, he’s come to the conclusion that he’s a fictional character. The best cure for this, he suggests, is that James help him unravel a murder that seems to have been a suicide.

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Dr. Michael Gazzaniga



Neuroscience legend Michael Gazzaniga who as a student, discovered the split between the left and right halves of the human brain, discuss his science memoir, Tales from Both Sides of the Brain.

Plus, National Geogrpahic’s Dan Buettner on The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People.

Interview with John Waters: Going His Way

John Waters at KUSP. Photo: Rick Kleffel

John Waters at KUSP. Photo: Rick Kleffel

Interview From the first sentence on, John Waters shares his excitement as well as the pitch for ‘Carsick.’ You know it well before reading this review. At the age of 66, John Waters decided he would hitchhike from his doorstep in Baltimore to his doorstep in San Francisco, and share his adventures with readers. That alone is reason enopugh to makie this book worth reading.

There’s more than a bit of non-fiction. Before he tells us what really happened on his journey, Waters offers us two fictional versions; a best-case scenario and a worst-case scenario. Some readers may have trouble distinguishing between the two, though both are markedly different from reality. What remains the same is Waters’ lust or life, his joyful celebration of everything that is human. This is a fun, funny book that offers a potent, often-poignant glimpse of America. It’s quite irreverent but never irrelevant.

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