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The Drum

Issue 10. March 2011



Bruce Holland Rogers' short story "Snow and Lemons" follows Tibor as he tries to lend purpose to his retirement. His two goals--to bring pride to Hungary's younger generation, and to make his neighbor smile--prove to be more challenging than even he might have expected. A Budapest snowstorm is the backdrop for this story about an older man's persistence and his inspired adaptation to the routines of his life. (8:49)

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JESSICA YEN Coming Up For Air


Jessica Yen's essay "Coming Up For Air" gives us a glimpse of an intriguing social ritual among a group of Beijing men, and looks further outward to notions of community and family both in China and in the US. (5:17)

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In Dustin Long's novel Icelander, the daughter of a local legend of the investigative arts searches for her dog while avoiding her biological impulse to solve the mystery of her best friend's recent murder. Icelander hums with Norse legend, an alternate reality and a cast of supporting characters including a "rogue library-scientist," a pair of philosophical investigators, and a many-faced villain. Built on mazes of time, language, and narrator, this literary fireworks display shows you what might happen if Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple had been penned by Nabokov then run through Hitchcock's lens. (41:21)

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LYDIA MILLET Oh Pure And Radiant Heart first chapter


Lydia Millet's novel Oh Pure and Radiant Heart plucks the three scientists who were integral to the invention of the atom bomb: Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and Enrico Fermi as they watch history's first mushroom cloud rise over the desert on July 16th, 1945, and places them down in modern-day Santa Fe. One by one, the scientists are spotted by a shy librarian who becomes convinced of their authenticity. Entranced, bewildered, and overwhelmed by their significance as historical markers on the one hand, and their peculiar personalities on the other, she, to the dismay of her husband, devotes herself to them. Soon the scientists acquire a sugar daddy - a young pothead millionaire from Tokyo who bankrolls them. Heroes to some, lunatics or con artists to others, the scientists finally become messianic religious figureheads to fanatics, who believe Oppenheimer is the Second Coming. As the ever-growing convoy traverses the country in a fleet of RV's on a pilgrimage to the UN, the scientists wrestle with the legacy of their invention and their growing celebrity, while Ann and her husband struggle with the strain on their marriage, a personal journey married to a history of thermonuclear weapons. (29:30)

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Susan Orlean followed up her recording of an excerpt from her Rin Tin Tin book for The Drum with an interview with Drum editor Henriette Lazaridis Power. Orlean asnwered questions about her interest in animals, why dogs hold such a unique place in our lives, and whether there's a place out there that is too boring to write about. She also gave valuable tips on making the most of solitary research travel and how to dine alone. The excerpt from Orlean's forthcoming Rin Tin Tin book appeared in the March 2011 issue of The Drum. (17:58)

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SUSAN ORLEAN Excerpt from Rin Tin Tin


Susan Orlean has just completed a cultural biography of the dog actor Rin Tin Tin. In the excerpt she recorded for The Drum, she writes about a visit to Paris' Cimetiere des Chiens, the special cemetery for dogs. Looking for Rin Tin Tin's grave, Orlean ponders the history of the pet-person relationship, and explores the human need to memorialize what we love even as we know we can't hold onto it. (18:08)

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theme: comedy

theme: crisis

theme: relationships

theme: family

genre: essay

novel excerpt

short fiction


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