Literature is alive and vital in DeKalb and the Rockford area. I learned this after interviewing five authors for WNIJ's Summer Book Series, which airs every Friday in June.
This is the first such series by WNIJ News since I started hosting Morning Edition in 1997 and, to be honest, none of us knew anything about the authors who lived here. The only thing we knew was this: The books we wanted for this series should be the kind you'd want to read while on vacation.
That they are. But they're also full of substance. Each has a compelling story and a unique voice, and strongly represents their genres of short fiction, poetry and nonfiction. The series begins June 1 with I Just Wanna Ride, the Rev. Robert Kopp's memoir and manifesto about faith and the biker lifestyle. Dr. Kopp is a Belvidere preacher who rides a 2005 Harley-Davidson Road King.
On June 8, Dan Libman discusses Married But Looking, a collection of short stories about spouses exploring the idea of another partner. Mr. Libman, from Rockford, is a Pushcart Prize-winning author whose stories have appeared in the Paris Review and the Russian journal Inostrannaya Literatura.
The morning of June 15, we delve into Amy Newman's Dear Editor, a collection of poems which are variations on a submission letter. That's what they are on the surface anyway. Each poem (or letter) reveals something about the author's childhood, her desire for human contact, and her longing for redemption. Dr. Newman is a Presidential Research Professor at Northern Illinois University.
We return to short stories on June 22 with Molly McNett's One Dog Happy, a collection about surprising, tender moments in the lives of Midwestern farm dwellers. The book won the Iowa Short Fiction Award. Ms. McNett lives on a farm near Rockford.
On June 29, Joe Bonomo discusses AC/DC's Highway to Hell (33 1/3). This explores the making of AC/DC's landmark 1979 album, and examines the legacy of singer Bon Scott. For research, Bonomo interviewed recording engineers, musicians and music reviewers. He also includes his experiences of the band's music, starting with his teenage years in suburban Maryland. Dr. Bonomo is a professor of English at Northern Illinois University.
We'll air my interviews with these authors during Morning Edition at 6:34 and 8:34. Be sure to return to this page for expanded interviews, plus recordings of the authors reading their work.
I hope you enjoy these conversations. And I hope you take these books with you wherever you go this summer. Happy reading!