Monday, October 31, 2011: Ronald Bishop explores our society’s obsession with triviality, extravagance and spectacle in his new book, More: The Vanishing of Scale in an Over-the-Top Nation. Then, Amy Stewart is not an entomologist but that hasn’t stopped her from writing Wicked Bugs: The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects. It’s an A to Z list of terrifying stories about the havoc those tiny creatures can cause.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011: The documentary Marathon Boy tells the story of Budhia Singh, a four-year-old boy whose life has been described as “a Bollywood movie scripted by Dickens.” Singh was born next to a railroad track in India, beaten by his alcoholic father, and sold at age three to a street hawker. He should have ended up a street beggar, but instead, Singh was rescued from the slums by a man who is training the boy to be India’s greatest runner. Bob talks to director Gemma Atwal about his film. Marathon Boy premiers November 3rd on HBO. Then, Jeff Sharlet is best known for his 2009 book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. His newest book is also about religion but he casts a wider net, exploring the variety of belief systems in this country. Sweet Heaven When I Die is a collection of 13 essays ranging in subject from America’s largest Mind, Body, Spirit Expo to legendary banjo player Dock Boggs.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011: On October 31st the 7 billionth person was born. Robert Walker from The Population Institute joins Bob to talk about how population growth is changing and challenging our world. Then, Salon contributor Glenn Greenwald is a former constitutional and civil rights lawyer who thinks the legal system is suffering from the same inequality the Occupy Wall Street protestors see in the American economy. His new book is With Liberty and Justice for Some. Then, journalist Bill Vlasic is the Detroit bureau chief for the New York Times and author of Once Upon a Car: The Fall and Resurrection of America’s Big Three Auto Makers – GM, Ford, and Chrysler. In this new book, Vlasic chronicles the back office drama that began in 2005 and culminated with the automaker bailout of 2008.
Thursday, November 3, 2011: Illustrator Chris Van Allsburg is a three time Caldecott winner and the creator of a number of classic children’s books, including Jumanji, The Polar Express, and The Z Was Zapped. In 1984, Van Allsburg drew The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, a series of illustrations that hint at stories. Now 14 notable writers – Sherman Alexie, Jules Fieffer, Gregory Maguire among them—have written short stories to go with each illustration in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.
Friday, November 4, 2011: Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about politics and other news. Next, for 30 years, Barb Hawkins lived confined in her parents’ home, a prisoner of undiagnosed schizophrenia. Not until her sister gained guardianship did Barb get diagnosed for the mental disease which affects more than three million Americans, yet is treatable and still widely misunderstood. Margaret Hawkins discusses her memoir, After Schizophrenia: The Story of My Sister’s Reawakening After 30 Years. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Erin Blakemore. When Blakemore joined the local roller derby league, she was an inhibited and buttoned-up woman, but full-contact skating gave her confidence and strength. She heard a similar story from her fellow skaters, who meet four times a week to beat each other up, and build each other up.