Randall Kennedy – “Can You Say This Word?”

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Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word

Few words in the English language have caused so much pain, hurt and emotion as the N-word. It is arguably the most consequential social insult in American history. The long history of the pejorative use of the N-word has given it an unusual power that extends to the judicial system, literature and social settings.

Randall Kennedy, a professor of Law at Harvard University Law School, is the author of “Nigger-the Strange Career of a Troublesome Word.”  His book chronicles the history of this word, in an effort to diffuse and neutralize it.

At the end of his book he writes, “There is much to be gained by allowing people all backgrounds to yank the N-word away from white supremacists to subvert its ugliest denotation, and to convert the N-work from a negative into a positive appellation.”

I spoke with Professor Randall Kennedy in the winter of 2002 while he was in California and asked him to begin our conversation by explaining this conclusion.

The book Randall Kennedy recommends in “The Negro in the American Revolution,” by Benjamin Quarles, written in 1961.

Originally Broadcast: March 19, 2002

“Saul Diskin – Identical Twins”

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The End of the Twins, a Memoir of Losing a Brother

Ever wondered what it would be like to have an identical twin—how alike would you be to that person? How much of an individual would you be? Saul Diskin and his identical twin brother Marty grew up together in New York City where Saul and Marty were inseparable. As adults, they began to live separate lives, Saul in Phoenix and Marty near Boston. In 1991, Marty, who had suffered from leukemia for 20 years, needed a bone marrow transplant, which he received from Saul. In his extraordinarily intimate book, “The End of the Twins, a Memoir of Losing a Brother,” Saul Diskin chronicles the rich relationship beginning with their early childhood and ending well past Marty’s death in 1997, shortly before their 63rd birthday.

Saul Diskin recommends “Entwined Lives,” by Nancy Segal and “Cosmology and Creation: The Spiritual Significance of Contemporary Cosmology” by Paul Brockelman.

Originally Broadcast: September 22, 2001

“Nicolas Bothman – Get Along Well”

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How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less

Making people like you is a skill that anybody can learn. By reading body language and synchronizing behavior, it is possible to make meaningful connections with almost anybody in almost any circumstance. We appreciate and like people similar to ourselves, people we understand and people who are open. “How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less” is the title of a book by Nicholas Bothman, a neurolinguistic practitioner who lives in Toronto, Canada.

Nicolas Bothman recommends “Love in the Town of Cholera,” & “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” both by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Originally Broadcast: January 2, 2001

“Patrick McGrath – Moving to America in 1774″

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Imagine leaving home and traveling by yourself to a new land where you don’t know the customs or the politics, on a trip that will take weeks to complete in what would now be considered a very small ship, on turbulent waters. Imagine making this voyage, never to return to your homeland, when you are 15 years old, and pregnant. Soon after you arrive a war begins that changes the face of the country and set a new type of government in motion. Imagine researching this story and then writing it. That is the work of Patrick McGrath, the author of “Martha Peake,” a book about a plucky young woman who came to American in 1774. I spoke with Patrick McGrath by phone in 2001 to talk about “Martha Peake,” how he researched and prepared to write it, and what British students are taught about the American Revolution.

Patrick McGrath recommends “The First American,” by H.W. Brown.

Originally Broadcast: January 16, 2001

“Mary Catherine Bateson – Do We Really Know the People Around Us?”

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Radio Curious revisits a conversation with Mary Catherine Bateson, author of ““Full Circles: Overlapping Lives, Culture and Generation in Transition.Do we really know the people around us? Our children? Our family? Our friends? Or are we strangers in our own community? Mary Catherine Bateson, the author of a book entitled, “Full Circles: Overlapping Lives, Culture and Generation in Transition,” believes that we are strangers. She describes us as immigrants in time, rather than space.In this interview from the archives of Radio Curious, recorded in April 2000, we visit with Mary Catherine Bateson, the daughter of two distinguished anthropologists, Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson.

The book Mary Catherine Bateson recommends is “Ithaka: A Daughter’s Memoir of Being Found,“ by Sarah Saffian.

Originally Broadcast: April 17, 2000.

 

Boyd, Blanche: Self-Styled Outlaw Lesbians

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Terminal Velocity

The concept of memoir versus fiction leads many authors to transform their personal experiences and life to fiction. Blanche Boyd is a native of South Carolina and a Professor of Literature at Connecticut College. She is also the author of the book entitled, “Terminal Velocity.” This is a book about a group of self-styled lesbian outlaws in the 1970s. We discussed the relationship of memoir and fiction, and how it applies to her work.

Blanche Boyd recommends “Cathedral” & “To the Waterfall,” both by Raymond Carver.

Originally Broadcast: August 19, 1997

Bloom, Amy: Love as Creator

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Love Invents Us

Amy Bloom is a Connecticut-based author and psychotherapist and the author of a novel entitled “Love Invents Us.” This book, the enactment of psychological theory about human behavior, also traces the intimate details in the life of Elizabeth Howe from her childhood to middle age. I spoke with Amy Bloom by phone while she was on tour to discuss ‘Love Invents Us” and asked her, “how does love invent us?”

Amy Bloom recommends “Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream,” by John Derbyshire.

Originally Broadcast: February 12, 1997

Osborn, John Jay: A Marriage as a Separate Entity

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“Listen to the Marriage” is a novel by John Jay Osborn, a retired lawyer and law professor. The story centers a marriage counselor and a recently separated couple with demanding jobs and two small children.  All thirty-one short chapters take place in the therapist’s office and reveal the angst, anger, and hidden love that the couple Gretchen and Steve, have for each other. Sandy, the therapist guides the sessions, while keeping her thoughts about her clients to herself.  An empty green chair representing their marriage sits between Gretchen and Steve during each visit.

“Listen to the Marriage” is Osborn’s sixth novel, the first one being “The Paper Chase,” published in 1971, a year after he graduated law school.  “Listen to the Marriage” is based in part on the experience Osborn and his wife had with a marriage counselor beginning about ten months after they separated in the mid 1980s.  They remain happily married.

John Osborn visited the Radio Curious studios by phone from his home in San Francisco, California, on December 14, 2018. We began our conversation with his description of the therapist’s goal: To get the couple to look at the marriage they created as being separate from themselves.

The book John Jay Osborn recommends is “Happy All the Time,” by Laurie Colwin.

The program was recorded on December 14, 2018.

Boothman, Nicholas: Getting People To Like You

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How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less

Making people like you is a skill that anybody can learn. By reading body language and synchronizing behavior, it is possible to make meaningful connections with almost anybody in almost any circumstance. We appreciate and like people similar to ourselves, people we understand and people who are open. “How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less” is the title of a book by Nicholas Boothman, a neurolinguistic practitioner who lives in Toronto, Canada.

Nicolas Boothman recommends “Love in the Time of Cholera,” & “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” both by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Livingston, Gordon M.D.: How To Love?

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Everybody thinks about love and many people say “I love you”, but how is love defined? The book “How To Love” written by psychiatrist Dr. Gordon Livingston grapples with these and many other questions about love, and how to find a compatible and pleasurable partnership. In this interview, we discuss how to choose more carefully, in matters of love to get what we desire and deserve. The song, “Do You Love Me?” from the musical “Fiddler On The Roof,” is our background music. Dr. Gordon Livingston spoke from his home in Columbia, Maryland on July 13th 2009, where he lives and practices psychiatry. The conversation began when I asked Dr. Livingston to define love.

The book Dr. Gordon Livingston recommends is “All He Ever Wanted,” by Anita Shreve.