The Agony Column

Interview with Alan Furst



While Alan Furst’s current novel is ‘Midnight in Europe,’ at this point in his career, you can’t really talk about a single novel. Make no mistake. You can read ‘Midnight in Europe’ by itself, having never read anything else by the man, cold, and it will knock you out. It’s a superb novel. But Furst is working on a unique literary form, a multi-volume version of a story in the style of a huge Russian novel.

“..but it was as nothing compared to the noise of planes landing…”
—Alan Furst

In conversation about his latest, I definitely wanted to open it up, to explore how Furst builds this detailed world, novel by novel. He told me some very interesting secrets that took me back to my time as a child, reading the Compton’s Encyclopedia. In retrospect, it seems that the hardbound encyclopedia has much more worth than one might presume, as it captures the world in a moment. It may give you some valuable information about the world, to be sure, but is certain to offer invaluable and un-reproducible information about the moment.


Writer Sarah Lotz


Read a review of Sarah Lutz’s The Three, by Rick Kleffel.

Author Sarah Lutz

Author Sarah Lutz

Sarah Lotz is something of a contradiction in terms. Here’s her first novel, by my reckoning, ‘The Three.’ Bu there are three in the “Also By” list, and I come to understand she’s part of three other “writers,” that is single names on the cover that prove to be collaborations, including one with her daughter.

“…people need answers…”

— Sarah Lotz

To be honest, she looks far too young to have a daughter with whom she could collaborate, but she tells me that this is the case. The point being, if ‘The Three’ seems like a remarkably accomplished first novel, then that’s because like most “first” novels, it’s actually, well, pretty far down the line.

As a reader, I tend to confabulate, that is, to see things in novels that are not, I am later told, put there deliberately. So as I read ‘The Three,’ it seemed clear to me that Lotz is really interested in doppelgangers and doubles and simulacra a la Philip K. Dick. In hindsight, the author agreed, but she didn’t put them there on purpose. But the name Philip K. Dick is an important one for readers to remember, because this book has that vibe in spades.

We talked quite a bit about Android Man, a fellow who speaks through a version of himself he built. Lotz had to do a lot of research for this novel, and talking about that was almost as fun as the novel.

Read a review of Sarah Lutz’ The Three, by Rick Kleffel.

Author Riane Eisler’s Vision of Human Culture and a New Economy


eislerRiane Eisler discusses her books “The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future” and “The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics.” Eisler is speaking in Santa Cruz next week.

Rick Kleffel writes:

Starting with Paleolithic and Neolithic archaeology and reaching into the 20th century and beyond, Eisler is intent on toppling hierarchical society, what she calls the “Dominator Model” and replacing it with the Shared Partnership model, which she demonstrates is neither new nor innovative, but instead, the natural order.

Also on the program, the CIA’s top lawyer for 7 years, John Rizzo, talks about the NSA’s surveillance program.