For two reasons, his interview was out of the ordinary. First, it was obvious before we even began to record that he'd actually read the book. I'm sure that if I were a radio guy, I wouldn't take the time to read every book I was reviewing on air; after all, there are certain obligatory questions you wouldn't even have to write out to remember:
"Where did you get the idea for these stories?"
"What's your writing schedule look like?"
"Do you write on a notepad in a coffee shop or hammer away on a computer?"
"How old were you when you knew you wanted to write?"
I don't doubt for a moment that one could do a fairly thorough job of interviewing a writer or two, or three or six or eighteen, with the very same list on the very same single sheet of paper.
The second reason this interview wasn't ordinary was that he had a chunk of the book in his hand, a chunk of a story on a couple of sheets of paper because he wanted me to read a long passage he'd chosen himself. I don't remember doing an interview with someone who actually wanted me to read. When first he brought up the idea, I thought he was kidding.
He wasn't. I did. I read the passage he'd chosen.
And then it was over. "That ought to do it," he said, or something similar. I was surprised, not because it hadn't taken all that long--I knew he had more copy than he needed--but because he hadn't asked those standard questions, not one, not once.
I'd read a long passage from one of the stories, and he nodded approvingly when it was over, even indicated he was moved--and honestly I think he was.
The interview he created was broadcast this week. He took what he'd recorded and sculpted it into a work of art, really. He added the whoosh of passing cars and an endearing rendition of the kind of Genevan Psalm that rises from the story; and what the interview became, what it is--this news feature about a new book by a local writer--is just plain beautiful.
I know--I'm hardly objective. But listen yourself. It's about eight minutes long even though the music continues to play.
Tell me I'm wrong, but I think it's just plain beautiful.
Here it is. His name? Mark Munger, from KWIT, Sioux City, IA.