A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life
By Michael Krasny
(Stanford University Press, Hardcover, 9780804756716, 317pp.)
Publication Date: September 2007
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But it didn't start out that way.
In "Off Mike," Krasny, host of one of public radio's most popular and intellectually compelling programs, talks of his strong desire to become a novelist in the footsteps of Bellow and Philip Roth, and then discovering his real talent as a communicatora deft ability to draw others out as an interlocutor.
In a mix of memoir and reportage, Krasny takes readers inside his world. He gives an account of the polarizing transformation of talk radio, from his early days at KGO commercial radio, through to his current role at NPR, where he manages to keep the flow of talk in his San Francisco based show animated and politically balanced.
"Forum" fans and lovers of literature will be riveted by the insightful and amusing vignettes and behind the scenes accounts. They will get a taste of the sharp commentary from his encounters with panels of experts, and interviews with cultural and political personalities as well as writers.
"Off Mike is an insightful homage not only to his craft, at which he has few peers, but also to the impressive litany of writers and personalities who have appeared on his show. He is as thoughtful and gracious on the page as he is behind the mike."—Khaled Hosseini, best-selling author of The Kite Runner
"Krasny agonizes over not having achieved the great dream of his youth—to become 'a respected and valued author.' Now, arguably, he has achieved with nonfiction what he failed to do as a novelist: Off Mike is reminiscent of the enormously entertaining fiction of Herman Wouk and Neil Simon. Even if Krasny is not a bird, his writing soars."—San Francisco Chronicle
"Krasny canonizes his talk radio career in this memoir, placing stories from his juicy backlog of interviews alongside tales of a neglectful father, his Ohio State fraternity, procreating and purchasing a home. His steadily honed love of language is palpable and infectious, suited more to the book party-hopping literary junkie than the broadcast historian. Eminent newsmakers, literary greats and iconoclasts open up to him like patients on a psychiatrists couch... "—Publishers Weekly
"Perhaps the biggest plaudit to give Krasny—who aspired his whole life to be a novelist, but settled for hosting talk radio and television shows, doing live interviews and teaching college—is that this book is well written, and will equally please literati and listeners of commercial radio."—San Jose Mercury News
"Krasny's true literary accomplishment is befriending America's intellectual elite in a public forum, giving the lay audience aural Cliffs Notes of modern classics without condescending to them. In that sense, Krasny is to literature through Off Mike what Al Gore is to global warming in An Inconvenient Truth: a trusted communicator of profundities, whose one excusable mistake is that he tells us more than we wanted to know about himself in the process."—SF Weekly