Marcel Proust has his little madeleine cakes. Calvin Trillin has Arthur Bryant's BBQ in Kansas City. And Tulsa-based writer and editor Mark Brown has, well, his mother's bygone fried chicken. Food, for so many of us, is about much more than taste and sustenance, much more than flavors and rations. It's about culture, society, tradition, and practically everything else --- about the past, the seasons, our memories, our loved ones. Food is as basic to the human species as are celebrations, rituals, fingerprints, or dreams.
Talk about the influential use of language.... Did you know that "bloviate," "lunatic fringe," "iffy," "military-industrial complex," "Anglophobia," "public relations," and "ottoman" are all terms or phrases that have been either coined or popularized by various U.S. Presidents over the years?
Today on ST, we speak with the bestselling author of "Just My Type" and other works of wide-ranging, culturally- or historically-driven nonfiction, Simon Garfield. His new book, "On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks," is just out. It's a detailed yet accessible survey of the age-old relationship between man and map, if you will, a study of why we as human beings are (and always have been) so fixated upon mapping things. Cartography, after all, seems to be as defining a characteristic for us (as a species) as, say, language or creativity or play.
On this "best of" edition of our show, we're listening back to a discussion we had by phone last year with Jack Hitt, who's a contributing editor to The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, and public radio's This American Life.
On this "best of" edition of our show, we're listening back to a discussion with the well-known Hollywood actor --- and children's book author --- Bob Balaban. When we spoke with Mr. Balaban by phone, back in early October, he had just put out a book called "The Creature from the Seventh Grade: Boy or Beast" (Penguin Young Readers Group). We spoke with him about this work, and about his efforts as a writer and actor --- and film producer / director / screenwriter --- more generally.
On this "best of" edition of our show, we're listening back to a discussion with the noted sociologist and bestselling author, Arlie Russell Hochschild. The focal point of our interview is Hochschild's latest book, "The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times." You can read a full description of this discussion --- and hear a free, on-demand "stream" of same --- at this link.