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Talking Volumes 2019 season guide

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Talking Volumes 20th season
Talking Volumes 20th season
MPR

Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune are proud to announce the 20th season of Talking Volumes. Talking Volumes is hosted by award-winning journalist Kerri Miller. This season the events take place in St. Paul at the Fitzgerald Theater and Minneapolis at The Parkway Theater.

The following book descriptions are provided by the publishers.

Sept. 25: Alice Hoffman and ‘The World That We Knew’

Location: The Fitzgerald Theater | Get tickets

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites comes Alice Hoffman's darkly magical story of in a heartbreaking time of war when men became monsters, children navigated a world without parents, and women were willing to sacrifice everything for those they loved.

What does it mean to lose your mother? What makes a family? How is it possible to survive cruelty and continue to love? In a life that is as unreal as a fairy tale, Alice Hoffman's The World That We Knew takes us on a journey of loss and resistance, good and evil, the fantastical and the mortal, to a place where all roads lead past the angel of death and love is never-ending.

Oct. 9: Saeed Jones and ‘How We Fight for Our Lives’

Location: The Parkway Theater | Get tickets

From award-winning poet Saeed Jones, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir written at the crossroads of sex, race, and power.

Haunted and haunting, Jones' memoir tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws listeners into his boyhood and adolescence - into tumultuous relationships with his mother and grandmother, into passing flings with lovers, friends and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another — and to one another — as we fight to become ourselves.

Blending poetry and prose, Jones has developed a style that is equal parts sensual, beautiful, and powerful — a voice that's by turns a river, a blues, and a nightscape set ablaze. How We Fight for Our Lives is a one-of-a-kind memoir that cements Saeed Jones as an essential writer for our time.

Oct. 16: Tim O’Brien and ‘Dad’s Maybe Book’

Location: The Parkway Theater | Get tickets

Best-selling author Tim O’Brien shares wisdom from a life in letters, lessons learned in wartime, and the challenges, humor, and rewards of raising two sons.

In 2003, already an older father, National Book Award–winning novelist Tim O’Brien resolved to give his young sons what he wished his own father had given to him — a few scraps of paper signed “Love, Dad.” Maybe a word of advice. Maybe a sentence or two about some long-ago Christmas Eve. Maybe some scattered glimpses of their rapidly aging father, a man they might never really know. For the next fifteen years, the author talked to his sons on paper, as if they were adults, imagining what they might want to hear from a father who was no longer among the living.

The result is Dad’s Maybe Book, a funny, tender, wise and enduring literary achievement that will squeeze the reader’s heart with joy and recognition.

Nov. 7: Karen Armstrong and ‘The Lost Art of Scripture’

Location: The Fitzgerald Theater | Get tickets

In this timely and important book, one of the most trusted and admired writers on the world of faith examines the meaning of Scripture. The sacred texts have been co-opted by fundamentalists, who insist that they must be taken literally, and by others who interpret Scripture to bolster their own prejudices. These texts are seen to prescribe ethical norms and codes of behavior that are divinely ordained: they are believed to contain eternal truths. 

But as Karen Armstrong shows in this chronicle of the development and significance of major religions, such a narrow, peculiar reading of Scripture is a relatively recent, modern phenomenon. For most of their history, the world's religious traditions have regarded these texts as tools that enable the individual to connect with the divine, to experience a different level of consciousness, and to help them engage with the world in more meaningful and compassionate ways.

At a time of intolerance and mutual incomprehension, The Lost Art of Scripture shines fresh light on the world's major religions to help us build bridges between faiths and rediscover a creative and spiritual engagement with holy texts.

Nov. 14: Lindy West and ‘The Witches Are Coming

Location: The Fitzgerald Theater | Get tickets

Firebrand NY Times columnist and author of the critically acclaimed memoir and Hulu TV series Shrill, Lindy West, provides a laugh-out-loud, incisive cultural critique that answers the fundamental question of this hellish political moment--how did we get here?--by dissecting the films, television series, internet phenomena, and lifestyle gurus that have taught us who we are. And, more importantly, what happens when people start saying "no."

The conditions that fostered the catastrophic resentment and abetted Trump's victory did not spring up in a vacuum; they are woven into America's DNA. The Witches Are Coming will explore how we got here through a long lens of pop culture, dissecting the stories we've been telling ourselves about ourselves — and each other — for generations, the assumptions we swallow as fact and the facts we deny, and the disastrous death-grip of mediocre white men on our past century's art and media. 

The Witches Are Coming was named one of Esquire's most anticipated books of 2019. 

Nov. 21: Tracy K. Smith and ‘Wade in the Water’

Location: The Fitzgerald Theater | Get tickets

In Wade in the Water, Tracy K. Smith boldly ties America's contemporary moment both to our nation's fraught founding history and to a sense of the spirit, the everlasting. These are poems of sliding scale: some capture a flicker of song or memory; some collage an array of documents and voices; and some push past the known world into the haunted, the holy. Smith's signature voice — inquisitive, lyrical and wry — turns over what it means to be a citizen, a mother, and an artist in a culture arbitrated by wealth, men, and violence. 

Here, private utterance becomes part of a larger choral arrangement as the collection widens to include erasures of The Declaration of Independence and the correspondence between slave owners, a found poem comprised of evidence of corporate pollution and accounts of near-death experiences, a sequence of letters written by African Americans enlisted in the Civil War, and the survivors' reports of recent immigrants and refugees. Wade in the Water is a potent and luminous book by one of America's essential poets.

Talking Volumes

About the host

Kerri Miller joined Minnesota Public Radio in June 2004 as host of Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning and Talking Volumes, the joint book club of MPR, the Star Tribune in collaboration with the Loft Literary Center. She has been a radio and television news reporter since 1981. She has won numerous awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists National Achievement Award, Minnesota Broadcasters Award, the Associated Press Award and a Gracie award from the Association of Women in Radio and Television

About Talking Volumes

Talking Volumes, a partnership of Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune, in collaboration with The Loft Literary Center, is a winner of the prestigious Gracie Allen Award. Talking Volumes was noted for its superior quality in writing, production and programming. The program spotlights books with feature articles, live broadcasts with the author, in-person readings and discussions, and more.

Ticket information

Tickets can be purchased online at MPREvents.org starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Fitzgerald tickets can also be purchased in person at First Ave ticket outlets. The Fitzgerald has reserved seating and the Parkway is general admission. Both venues will include musicians, real-time open captioning, book sales and signings with the authors.

  • Sept. 25: Music by Tiny Deaths at the Fitzgerald Theater

  • Oct. 9: Music by Toussaint Morrison at the Parkway Theater

  • Oct. 16: Music by Molly Maher at the Parkway Theater

  • Nov. 7: Music by K.Raydio at the Fitzgerald Theater

  • Nov. 14: Music by Chris Koza at the Fitzgerald Theater

  • Nov. 21: Music by Lady Midnight at the Fitzgerald Theater

The shows will be recorded for broadcast on MPR News. Doors open at 6 p.m. and shows start at 7 p.m. 

Correction (July 25, 2019): An earlier version of this story misspelled Toussaint Morrison’s name.