Doing time with Ron Kuby

            

Listen for me today on a radio near you!

I'll be a guest this afternoon on "Doing Time with Ron Kuby" on the Air America radio network. We'll talk about my memoir, The Accidental Terrorist, and about the new podcast in which I'm serializing it. Again.

That's today—Tuesday, April 14th—at 5:00 pm Eastern. I hope you'll tune in.

To find your local Air America station, or to listen to the live online audio stream, please visit:

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Reading debriefing

            

The reading at Flourish Bakery Cafe was a great success last night. I had a terrific time. Thanks to everyone who came out to listen, including all the crew from Imagination, and especially to Steven Silver and [info]stonetable, neither of whom I'd met before, and each of whom schlepped quite a way to be there. And big thanks to Hallie Gordon and Connor Coyne of Gothic Funk Nation, who made the whole evening possible.

If you missed it, I hope I'll have a chance to read at Tuesday Funk again later this year when my collaboration with Derryl Murphy, Cast a Cold Eye, comes out from PS Publishing.

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Quorum of the Twelve Apostates

            

I have my breakfast stop to thank for another little gem this morning. The 31-year-old father at the booth next to mine (I know his age because it came up in his conversation) was summarizing news stories from the Sun-Times for his two young daughters, and I was listening in with half an ear over my eggs and coffee as I read Then We Came to the End.

Both my ears perked up when he mentioned Brigham Young University. You may have seen this A.P. story already:

Apostles, not apostates: BYU paper's ungodly typo
Thousands of issues of Brigham Young University's student newspaper were pulled from newsstands because a front-page photo caption misidentified leaders of the Mormon church as apostates instead of apostles....

The caption called the group the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostates." The mistake happened when a copy editor ran a computer spell check and apostate was suggested as the replacement for a misspelling of apostle....  [full article]

I almost sprayed coffee all over my book as the father transmitted the gist of the story. After he had explained the meaning of "apostate," one of the girls asked, "Did someone do it on purpose?"

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Memoir-go-round

            

The Accidental Terrorist
In 2006 and 2007, over the course of about 30 episodes of my "ShunnCast," I read my unpublished memoir The Accidental Terrorist, the story of how I, as a young naive Mormon missionary, came to be arrested for terrorism and permanently banned from Canada. The response was enthusiastic and overwhelming. Each chapter was downloaded thousands of times, and the memoir continues to be a great draw at my website. If you've listened before, I thank you for your support.

Now I'm serializing the book again, from the beginning. Why? As popular as those episodes were, the sometimes lengthy bracketing chatter about other aspects of my life and work made it impossible for listeners after the fact to sit back with every chapter and listen to the book straight through from start to finish.

This new podcast will change that. Starting April 7th and continuing throughout 2009, I'll post a new chapter from The Accidental Terrorist every Tuesday morning. Most of these will be excerpted from the original "ShunnCast" episodes, but a handful in which I've made significant revisions since the first podcasts will be newly rerecorded.

Most Friday mornings, I'll post a short "Setting the Record Straight" installment, also excerpted from the original episodes, in which I'll talk about what elements of Tuesday's chapter may have been slightly exaggerated in the writing of the book, and which others hew close to reality.

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Tuesday Funk

            

And here's the flyer for the Tuesday Funk Reading Series, where I'll be reading this coming Tuesday along with Elisabeth Blair and Gina DiPonio.

Hope to see you there!

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Hey, Chicagoans! I have a reading coming up just over a week from now, Tuesday, April 7, 2009, as part of Chicago's Tuesday Funk Reading Series.

The reading starts at 7:00 pm sharp at:

Flourish Bakery Cafe
1138 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Chicago, IL 60660
That's just east of Broadway, just west of the Bryn Mawr stop on the Red Line.

I don't have all the details yet, but there will be two other readers, giving you a full hour of prime literary entertainment. I'll likely be reading from his memoir The Accidental Terrorist. Copies of my chapbook An Alternate History of the 21st Century will be available for purchase for a paltry $4.

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It has to have been 1988 when I first read Watchmen. I was a Mormon missionary stationed in Wenatchee, Washington—a zone leader, no less. We weren't allowed even to read newspapers or magazines, let alone comic books, but some sainted individual at church (I now forget who) had found out I was an aspiring science fiction writer and decided I needed to know about the most exciting thing to happen in the field in the time I'd been away. He (because he was definitely male) made me a gift of Issues 2 through 12.

I still remember the marathon reading session that went on that night. Two other elders were hanging out at our apartment that night, and as I finished each issue I would hand it off to my companion, who handed it off to the next elder, and so on. I think all our minds were blown that night, to one extent or another. I don't know what stood out for the other elders, but I was as fired up by the formal brilliance of the books, the panel-to-panel transitions and juxtapositions and visual motifs, as I was by the surface level of the story. Even at 20, I could tell that I had just watched a depth charge exploding against the hull of superhero mythology. I could also tell the blow had been delivered in a way no other medium could have accomplished.

My reading experience wasn't crippled, I think, by not having Issue 1 at hand, though the next day I dragged my companion to the first comics store I could find and plunked down something like ten dollars for a copy. That hurt a little, but it was still less than I would have paid for all twelves issues had I bought them as they came out. I still have those books, bagged in plastic and locked in the safe. I'd be hard-pressed to part with them, even though my Issue 1 is not from the first printing.

But now I digress. I've reread Watchmen many times over the years, and even turned my wife into a fan, so like any other fan I approached the news of a movie adaptation actually going into production with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. I didn't go to a midnight screening last Thursday night, but I did see the earliest showing I could get to on Friday. And I sat rapt, thrilled, and hypnotized for nearly three hours. Seeing those familiar scenes translated so beautifully and faithfully to the screen, I was transported.

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Attacks on gays = a tax on Mormons

            

I don't know about you, but I am incensed about the LDS Church's over-the-pulpit exhortation of its members to mobilize and help pass California's Proposition 8, banning gay marriage. When I first heard about it, in fact, my first reaction was, "Damn, they need to have their tax-exempt status revoked."

Now you can help urge the IRS to make that happen. Here are all the instructions and supporting documents you need in order to:

File a Complaint Asking the IRS to Revoke the LDS Church's Tax-Exempt Status

If the Church is going to jump into the political arena (yes, okay, they've never not been a player in the political arena) and try to legislate a segment of our population out of their legal rights, then it's only fair that they as a corporation should share this country's tax burden. They pulled this same kind of nonsense 30 years ago to help defeat the Equal Rights Amendment,* and who knows what they'll try next if their actions are left legally unchallenged?

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ShunnCast #53

            

[info]
Epidode #53 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill combs through the dusty vaults of his cassette collection to unearth a musical gem from his missionary days that might more profitably have remained buried—"The Wenatchee Rap" by No Parking Zone.

http://www.shunn.net/podcast?id=53

See also shunncast.

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On lying, and lying artlessly

            

Longtime readers may recall me railing against James Frey and the phenomenon of the invented memoir a couple of years ago. Rather than chilling the memoir marketplace, though, Frey was merely in the vanguard of a veritable explosion of exposed frauds that now includes such "memoirists" as Margaret B. Jones and Misha Defonseca.

The topic of these overly embroidered tales is much on my mind as, again, my memoir makes its way back into the marketplace. I feared two years ago that Frey's escapade would make a memoir more difficult to sell. Now I fear that he didn't make it difficult enough.

Nearly two months ago, Scott Simon on NPR's Weekend Edition delivered an editorial that made me stand up and pump my fist in the air. He made the interesting argument that the phony memoirist cheats in two ways: first, by weaving of his life an epic that never was; and second, by scanting the literary rigor a novel would have demanded. Listen here:

Writing and Truth in Fact and Fiction
by Scott Simon
Speaking as someone who has labored for nearly ten years to produce a book that will hold up on both counts and provoke more than skepticism and cynicism, I can only add my fervent amen.
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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

Order yours now!

About the Book

What happens when an ambivalent young Mormon missionary is pushed to the limit in a challenge to prove his faith? Hint: the outcome is explosive. The Accidental Terrorist is the long-awaited memoir from Hugo and Nebula Award–nominated author William Shunn, based on his popular podcast. Available now from Sinister Regard!