Amy Tan’s mother wanted her to become a doctor and a concert pianist. Instead, Tan chose to write fiction, a career that was out of line with her Chinese immigrant parents’ expectations.
Tan’s novels include “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” and “Saving Fish From Drowning,” all of which are New York Times bestsellers.
In this talk, recorded at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall on January 12, 2012, Tan talks about the genesis of creativity, different forms of creative expression and how her own creative process has evolved.
Writer Jonathan Raban came to Seattle from his native England in 1991. Microsoft and Starbucks were in their toddler years and Seattle’s music scene had just become an international sensation. What was once a workingman’s town was evolving, and Raban was here to chronicle that change. "Driving Home," a collection of Raban’s essays written over 20 years, is out now in paperback. He talks with Marcie Sillman about the Seattle he first met.
Pink is no longer just a color for young girls — it’s a lifestyle. It celebrates girlhood, but more alarmingly, it fuses girlhood to an obsession with appearance, argues Peggy Orenstein.
Orenstein, an author and the mother of a young girl, was shocked by today’s “princess culture” that forces girls to value material objects and looking pretty over individuality. To research this phenomenon, Orenstein braved toddler beauty pageants, Disneyland and Miley Cyrus concerts, and her resulting book is a tough examination of the girlie-girl culture and its effect on young girls’ identities and futures.
Orenstein spoke at Seattle’s Town Hall on February 15, 2012.
Alaska journalist Tom Kizzia spent a decade following the Pilgrims, a modern-day Alaska pioneer family. With his wife and fifteen children, Papa Pilgrim masqueraded as a homespun Christian family man. Over time, however, Kizzia reveals that this father was actually a sociopath.
Kizzia spoke at the Elliott Bay Book Company on August 8.
Most of us have fond memories of our childhood friends, but what about our friends that weren’t real? Imaginary friends come in many shapes and sizes, and they often provide handy scapegoats. Steve Scher talked with Marjorie Taylor, professor and head of psychology at the University of Oregon and author of "Imaginary Companions." He also talked to Stephanie Carlson, professor of child development at the University of Minnesota, about where our imaginary friends come from and why they leave.
At the end of 2009, legendary Gourmet Magazine printed its last issue. Steve Scher talked with then-editor and author Ruth Reichl just four days before the announcement of the magazine’s end about how and what Americans are eating.
Robert Olen Butler On Vietnamese Expat Communities
Robert Olen Butler is the author of “A Good Scent from a Stranger Mountain,” a collection of short stories about Vietnamese expats. In his book, Butler recalls many stories from Vietnamese expats around the world and the often, as he deems them, temperamental dynamics of these communities. Steve Scher talked with Butler back in 1992.
When it comes to publishing authors’ works, Seattle may be the next New York City. Amazon and other tech companies have transformed publishing with e-readers, social media and new financial models, making the old New York book publishing house less relevant, according to tech reporter Emily Parkhurst.
In 2004, an 11-year-old girl in Redmond wrote a letter to Nordstrom complaining that the choice of clothing available to her was too revealing; midriff shirts, low-riding pants. Today many still worry about the revealing clothing options for young girls. KUOW’s Steve Scher talked with Dr. Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington, and Laura Portolese Dias, an instructor of business administration now at Central Washington University, about where these trends come from and where to find modest clothing for children.
Frankie Avalon surfed in every beach party movie he made while Annette Funicello looked on lovingly. The movie "Blue Crush" profiled a bunch of girls who surfed competitively. Even Elvis surfed in one of his movies. But none of them surfed in the Pacific Northwest, which has the best swells in the world according to a study by legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau. The Pacific Northwest also has notoriously cold water, but that's not the worst of a surfer's worries compared to the strong currents and undertows. Marcie Sillman talked with Bobby Arzadon, owner and founder of the Perfect Wave Shop in Kirkland, and Eric Fleming, then middle school art teacher and longboard surfer, about surfin’ in the PNW.
Authors Terry Brooks and Greg Keyes have sold millions of copies of books. Both writers have legions of fans around the nation and the world, and both are part of a parallel universe of fantasy and science fiction: "Star Wars," "Star Trek," "The Lord of the Rings;" the list could go on and on. In 2004, Steve Scher talked with Brooks and Keyes about writing, working with George Lucas and the lasting allure of fantasy.
War is often remembered through history textbooks. Shortly before Veteran’s Day 2004, Weekday took a look at war through the eyes of soldiers and their families. Steve Scher talked with two Medal of Honor recipients: retired Air Force Col. Joe M. Jackson and retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady.
Many of us have experienced "the wave" at a baseball game, and most of us have marveled at fish swimming in schools or starlings whirling around in the evening sky. In 2009, Steve Scher talked with Julia Parish, associate director of the school of aquatic and fishery sciences at the University of Washington, about why animals move together.
In this past month, Washington state cut funding for the smoking cessation hotline. Humorist David Sedaris has a different approach to quit smoking. Instead of calling the hotline, Sedaris moved to Japan. His story "The Smoking Section" is just one of 17 essays in his book “When You Are Engulfed in Flames.” Steve Scher talked with David Sedaris back in 2008 about smoking and other tales.
Karaoke fascinates some and leave other baffled. Rob Sheffield is in the former category. The Rolling Stone contributing editor has written a memoir about love and karaoke and he sits down to take Ross Reynolds into the fascinating and often strange world of karaoke.
Eli Hastings is the author of two memoirs and a team leader at the Pongo Teen Writing Project. Pongo is a nonprofit that works with troubled Seattle teens on how to express themselves through poetry and other forms of writing. He shares his story with Ross Reynolds.
It’s not unusual to find people looking for a new life in Alaska. That’s what the man who called himself Papa Pilgrim seemed to be when he arrived in McCarthy with his wife and 15 children. But there was much more to the story. Alaskan journalist Tom Kizzia tells the story in "Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier.”
Imagine a tiny, filthy-at-first kitchen, shockingly bad ingredients and the requirement to prepare two meals a day, five days a week for up to 80 young men. That’s what Darlene Barnes found when she applied for the position of house cook at Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity at the University of Washington. She was new to the area and wanted to continue her career in cooking. But what she got was so much more than a job.
Ross Reynolds talks with Darlene Barnes about her new memoir, “Hungry: What Eighty Ravenous Guys Taught Me about Life, Love, and the Power of Good Food.”
News From D.C. Washington, D.C., is on recess. What didn’t get done before they left? CBS News Capitol Hill producer Jill Jackson.
Nancy Pearl On Armchair Travel If you don’t have the time or money to travel this summer, you can still get away. Nancy Pearl takes us on an armchair travel adventure with her recommendations of worldly books to read this summer. Two titles she loves: “The Saddest Pleasure” by Moritz Thomsen and “Travels in a Thin Country” by Sara Wheeler.