Tag Archives: audiobook

Q+A With Marion Winik, Author of The Big Book of the Dead

Tantor Media sat down with the University of Baltimore professor, Marion Winik, and author of The Big Book of the Dead and winner of the 2019 Towson Prize for Literature. Among her nine other books are First Comes Love and Highs in the Low Fifties. Her award-winning Bohemian Rhapsody column appears monthly at Baltimore Fishbowl, and her essays have been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Sun, and elsewhere. A board member of the National Book Critics Circle, she writes book reviews for People, Newsday, The Washington Post, and Kirkus Reviews; she hosts The Weekly Reader podcast at WYPR. She was a commentator on NPR for fifteen years; her honors include an NEA Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction.

Tantor Media (TM): First off, you’ve done a wonderful job narrating. You had a lot of confidence and humor while you were reading despite the subject matter. Were there any essays that were particularly difficult to record?

Marion Winik (MW): Thank you! It was such a pleasure to record the book – like living my whole life over again in 5 hours, each character sort of materializing and then fading, like a parade of ghosts. The only audience was the engineer, a twenty-something musician who reminded me of my sons; I was energized by his attention and reactions.

I have read almost all of them aloud many times before and I was surprised at how much they still affect me. The Carpenter and The Skater, my brother-in-law and my first husband, both of whom died very young of AIDS, in particular, hit me hard. The last line of The Carpenter, “I miss him more, not less, as time goes by” came as much from my heart as from the page.

TM:  For a memoir, it seems like you have taken on the role of narrator, making only small appearances in the lives of those who appear in your book. Each essay focuses on a specific character and their death, and some characters appeared briefly, playing a very small role in your life. How did you decide to arrange your memoir in a way where you assume a minor role?

MW: I’ve written about five of books of memoir and personal essay where I am center stage – my character, my choices, my mistakes. There are many things about that fierce spotlight that are challenging. So actually, it was a relief to be off to the side. When I was first writing the pieces, all the way back in 2007, I didn’t quite realize that whomever I was writing about —  whether it was my father, my son’s second-grade teacher, an old boyfriend, or even a cat – I was also writing about myself. By the time there were 125 of the little essays (each is no more than 400 words), I saw that they could be assembled to tell the story of my life – in terms of the people lost from it. So the book starts with characters from my childhood in New Jersey, goes through people I met during my 20 years in Texas, moves on to rural Pennsylvania and finally to where I am now, Baltimore.

As a writing teacher, I’ve had the chance to notice that you can sometimes learn more about a person by what they say about other people than what they say about themselves, which is always a bit fraught. I’d think that dynamic might be operating here.

TM: Despite your book showcasing death, there isn’t a whole lot of time spent on the dying process or grieving; rather, you pinpointed meaningful moments in each person’s life. Was this an intentional choice, or did your work start out as something different?

MW: The book is not really about death – it’s about people, and it’s about life. But in some cases, the way the person died felt like a big part of the story. That’s particularly true of the young people in the book – The Virgin, The Graduate, The Boy With the Wrong Story, The Very Tiny Baby. The Innocents, which is about victims of school shootings. For the older subjects, the death is often more of a footnote to the life. Still, in each case, I try to give the sense of how it fits into the story. “The only consolations of Alzheimer’s, and they are small indeed, is that it doesn’t hurt much and that once the full nightmare is underway, you are long gone.” “She certainly did not believe a clot in her lung could bring her down, that smoking for sixty-five years would actually cause lung cancer, or that lung cancer was definitely fatal.” “He was fifty-six, just like my own father who died the same way: the heart in the dark of the night that loses its place.”

TM: Are there any people you wanted to include in The Big Book of the Dead that didn’t make an appearance? If so, is there a reason why they weren’t included?

MW: I relied heavily on information from surviving family and friends to fill in details about the subjects, and luckily no one turned me down when I asked them for help. As you know, there are a few famous people in the book. Towards the end of the writing process, I was thinking of writing one about Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade that would talk about their suicides – how suddenly a subject no one ever talks about was being discussed at every dinner table. But I found I didn’t have the personal connection to either one of them that I would need to strike the right tone. Not like, say, Prince, who may not have known he was in my life, but definitely was. David Bowie, Philip Roth, Keith Haring – same.

TM: Who did you write about first? Whose life or death compelled you to start writing your series of books about the dead?

MW: The first one was The Jeweler, a guy I briefly dated in Austin in my twenties. How it came about was that I was sitting in on a writing workshop given by another teacher. She read the students a poem called “Tenderness” by Stephen Dunn, and asked them to write about someone for whom they felt the same blend of regret and nostalgia that is captured in the poem. The Jeweler came immediately into my mind… and then I realized I had dozens of people I felt this way about. I wrote a list right then and there that eventually became the first table of contents.

TM: What would you like listeners to come away with after finishing The Big Book of the Dead?

MW: A desire to read my other books? Ha. Perhaps a renewed appreciation of our short time on earth. Maybe the urge to make something or write something in memory of their own lost loved one, to bring them back in the way the characters in the book are. Think of it as a writing prompt.

 

Questions created by Marissa Woble

For more information about Marion Winik visit: www.marionwinik.com

June Audiobook Giveaway—The Ables

Read by Eric Michael Summerer

The Ables is a fast-paced, captivating debut novel from Jeremy Scott, a bold new voice in fantasy and science fiction, and already a widely popular storyteller as co-creator and narrator of CinemaSins, a YouTube channel that has amassed more than 3.8 million subscribers in under two years.

“Smart, thought-provoking, and unique… readers won’t want to put this eye-opening, explosive story down.” ―School Library Journal

How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to contests@tantor.com
  2. Put the word “Ables” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by  June 30, 2019. Open to US only.

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Thank you to all that entered!

Around the World in Eighty Wines

By Kaleigh Lawson

My love affair with wine started out  just because I really enjoyed drinking wine. At the time I couldn’t tell you much about the stuff. It wasn’t until I started blogging about fermented grapes that I started to realize how complex and quite fascinating wine really is.

My interest in wine has only continued to blossom, and to this day I continue my journey to learn more about wine and try different varietals. Did you know that a grape from one country can and does taste different from a grape grown in another country due to the climate and soil?  Naturally, when I came across Around the World in Eighty Wines I had to listen to discover more about wine and which wines that Mike Veseth sampled along his adventures.

The book is exactly what you think it is. It’s a detailed account of wine from different parts of the world with some fascinating facts and stories about wine—80 to be exact. While Veseth obviously wasn’t able to taste every single wine from the regions he visited (as cool as that would be) he was able to sip on varieties many of us will never have the opportunity to try. I guess I will have to just live vicariously through his description of Venissa wine produced in a lagoon in Venice, Italy and the Domaine de Bargylus made in Syria.

As far as the audio goes, I thought Eric Michael Summerer’s narration was very clear and easy to follow along. This is definitely something I recommend adding to your listening list!

October 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of John Farris’ The Fury

“America’s premier novelist of terror. . . .  Nobody does it better.” —Stephen King

Read by Joe Barrett

First published in 1976 and made into a successful movie written by the author and directed by Brian De Palma in 1978, The Fury is one of the all-time classics of the horror genre.

Read the full description.
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How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to contests@tantor.com
  2. Put the word “Twins” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by Oct 31, 2017. Open to US only.

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Congratulations to N Collins, winner of last month’s giveaway of For Two Thousand Years. Thank you to all that entered.

March 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of The Cyanide Canary

From Robert Dugoni, the #1 Kindle bestselling author of My Sister’s Grave, and Environmental Protection Agency Special Agent Joseph Hilldorfer comes a true story of good and evil, greed and its consequences, and an elusive quest for justice. Read the full description.

“[An] electrically charged narrative . . . Top-notch nonfiction legal thriller, reminding readers of the baseline: ‘This all comes down to one thing. It’s all about money.'” –Kirkus Starred Review

“[An] enthralling legal drama . . . a fully rounded, gripping story of how environmental crime is prosecuted in the real world.” –Booklist Starred Review

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How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to contests@tantor.com
  2. Put the word “cage” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by March 31, 2017. Open to US only.

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Congratulations! To Linda Townsend, winner of last month’s giveaway of The Antiques. Thank you to all that entered.

February 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of The Antiques

g1805_antiquesdagostino_aA rollicking tableau of life in all its messy complexity, The Antiques is a heartbreaking, nimble, laugh-out-loud funny send-up of modern family life.

“It’s witty and trenchant and dark and stylish, the black sheep of the family-novel genre, the one who’s not invited to Thanksgiving but crashes it anyway to the delight of the younger relatives and the horror of the elders.” —Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Johnny Valentine

Read the full description.

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How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to contests@tantor.com
  2. Put the word “hurricane” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by February 28, 2017. Open to US only.

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Congratulations! To Lindell Martin, winner of last month’s giveaway of Steven Spielberg. Thank you to all that entered.

January 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films

g0530_stevenspielberg_a

“Molly Haskell, one of our most essential authorities on the movies, has written a fascinating, witty, acutely discerning book . . . Spielberg is given his proper due, and Haskell outdoes herself.”
Phillip Lopate, author of American Movie Critics

Distinguished critic Molly Haskell offers a brilliant portrait of the extraordinary director—a small, unhappy boy living through his imagination who grew into a man whose openness, generosity of spirit, and creativity have enchanted audiences for more than forty years. Read the full description.
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How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to contests@tantor.com
  2. Put the word “Jurassic” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by January 31, 2017. Open to US only.

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Congratulations! To Kathy Setter, winner of last month’s giveaway of A Square Meal. Thank you to all that entered.

December 2016 Audiobook Giveaway of A Square Meal

g1628_squaremeal_aFrom the author of the acclaimed 97 Orchard and her husband, a culinary historian, an in-depth exploration of the greatest food crisis the nation has ever faced—the Great Depression—and how it transformed America’s culinary culture.

Read the full description.

By Jane Ziegelman & Andrew Coe
Read by Susan Ericksen

 

“Coe and Ziegelman have written an engaging social history illustrated throughout with historically authentic recipes.” —Publishers Weekly

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How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to contests@tantor.com
  2. Put the word “Food” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by December 31, 2016. Open to US only.

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Congratulations! To Michael Alatorre, winner of last month’s giveaway of Death in Yellowstone. Thank you to all that entered.

November 2016 Audiobook Giveaway of Death in Yellowstone

Death in Yellowstone

Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness
in the First National Park

By Lee H. Whittlesey
Read by Stephen R. Thorne

From Lee H. Whittlesey comes the updated edition of the classic Death in Yellowstone. Armchair travelers and park visitors alike will be fascinated by this important book detailing the dangers awaiting in our first national park. Read the full description.

“Whittlesey’s already gripping account of accidents and foolhardiness in Yellowstone is now updated, more comprehensive, and all the more fascinating.”
—Dr. Michael Yochim, author of Protecting Yellowstone

“The most fascinating book ever written about Yellowstone Park and its environs.”
Journal Of The West

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How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook
1. Send an email to contests@tantor.com
2. Put the word “Foolhardiness” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by November 30, 2016. Open to US only.

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Congratulations! To Jennifer Essad, winner of last month’s giveaway of
The Heavens May Fall. Thank you to all that entered.

October 2016 Audiobook Giveaway of The Heavens May Fall

Featuring three characters from the bestselling book-club favorite The Life We Bury, Allen Eskens’s novel The Heavens May Fall explores a riveting murder case told from two opposing perspectives.

“Eskens keeps the reader guessing as the tale takes several unexpected twists before reaching the satisfying denouement.” —Publishers Weekly

The Heavens May FallRead the full description.

The Heavens May Fall
By Allen Eskens
Read by R. C. Bray, David Colacci, and Amy McFadden

 

 

 

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How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to contests@tantor.com
  2. Put the word “Murder” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by October 31, 2016. Open to US only.

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Congratulations! To Donna, winner of last month’s giveaway of Island. Thank you to all that entered.