Don Swaim's online audio interviews with the best-known writers
of three decades, author updates, and more
Don's unedited CBS interviews at Ohio U's Wired for Books
|For an update on the status of this archive please scroll to bottom of page|
An imagining by K.A. Silva
click to enlarge
Don Photo Gallery
Where He's Lived
THE YELLOW BOOKE Vol 6
The latest edition of the annual collection of original weird stories published by Oldstyle Tales Press includes Don Swaim's Poe-influenced short story, "Dank Tarn of Auber," about a kid who grows up to become the first zombie mayor of Wichita, Kansas. Trade paperback at: Amazon.com. It can be read for free online at the Oldstyle Tales Press website
THE YELLOW BOOKE Vol 1
Oldstyle Tales Press has published its first anthology of original weird tales: The Yellow Booke. Don Swaim's short story, "The Barrier," about a posse of nits crossing the no man's land between two human eyebrows to rescue a kidnapped female nit, is part of the collection. Trade paperback at: Amazon.com. It can be read for free online at the Oldstyle Tales Press website
Edited and with an introduction
by S.T. Joshi
Don Swaim's exhaustive interview with S.T. Joshi, the world's leading authority on Lovecraft, Bierce, sci-fi, horror, and weird fiction in general. READ
AMBROSE BIERCE ALLEY
Bierce's San Francisco. Photo-essay by Don Swaim
archy, mehitabel & james whitcomb riley
meditation by don swaim
FIRST PRINTED BOOK IN THE AMERICAS
Gabriel Fernandez Ledesma, artist
Rare woodcut found at a flea market in New Jersey led to this illustrated essay by Don Swaim. READ
edited by C. G. BauerDon Swaim's ghost story "Levin" is in this second volume of Bauer's ebook anthology series Crappy Shorts, which ain't crappy at all. HERE
BACK IN PRINT!
Don Swaim's H.L. Mencken Murder Case, originally published by St. Martin's Press, returns to print as a trade paperback through the Authors Guild Backinprint program. Available at amazon.com. $12.95. "...there's a dusty-attic charm to Mr. Swaim's fond evocation of bookshops past, and he couldn't have enticed a livelier ghost than Mencken to haunt them." --The New York Times Sunday Book Review
FOR FANS (& ENEMIES) OF STEAMPUNK
Inspired by Rudyard Kipling's poetry, Woodrow D'Urberville, his stunning companion Angelina Jekyl, and their mentor, the dirigible-residing Professor Emory, set out to save the world -- starting with the rescue of Oscar Wilde from Reading Gaol. Every Steampunk weapon, mode of transportation, piece of clothing, and cliché is utilized in Don Swaim's more than 11,000-word send-up of the genre. Illustrated by the author. SPECIAL: As an introductory offer, Steampunk Electroblaster Romance is on sale for 99-cents -- yes, 99¢! CLICK to buy.
THE PLOT TO KILL NORMAN MAILER
Satirical and literary, Don Swaim's ebook Bright Sun Extinguished: Ode to Norman Mailer is an original pastiche of dark fantasy and horror. A hit team from Kansas crosses a dystopian landscape to assassinate Norman Mailer in Brooklyn. From amazon.com. Now only $1.99 for a limited time only. A literary gem filled with subtleties re pop culture and events leading up to and beyond a literary apocalypse. -- claims C.G. Bauer
Original song lyrics from Bright Sun Extinguished: Ode to Norman Mailer:
ON TOP OF ROMERO
lyrics by Don Swaim
REANIMATION BABY RAG
lyrics by Don Swaim
INSTANT LITERARY QUIZ
Try it. Make Shakespeare Proud!
Broadcasting was a different world in 1967 when CBS began an all-news radio operation on its 50,000-watt WCBS, New York, flagship of its seven owned-and-operated AM stations. Then, WCBS broadcast a daily book review with contributions from the staff voiced by Dick Reeves. Don Swaim, a former television news editor from Baltimore, contributed regularly to this feature, transcripts of which were distributed to the news media. An excerpt from Swaim's review of an oral biography of Harry S Truman appeared in the New York Post on March 2, 1974:
website, founded by Dave Kurz. Wired for Books declined to include the actual two-minute radio features, as opposed to the raw interviews, so the features, as they appeared on the air, are posted on this site. Kurz' retirement left Wired for Books in limbo.
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By late 1982, Swaim, who had been reporting on books and authors for the station for several years (as well as a contributor to a CBS-FM broadcast, "Crosstalk"), proposed a daily feature, "Book Beat," to which staff members, one of whom was WCBS political reporter Steve Flanders, would contribute. Flanders' sudden death scotched that idea, and Swaim embarked on the five-day-a-week feature alone. The executives in charge were Mike Ludlum and Lou Adler. Its first broadcast was January 3, 1983, with a profile of William Styron. Later, the network's CBS Radio Stations News Service headed by Joe Durso, Jr., made "Book Beat" available nationwide. Over the years, more than 700 writers, famous and unknown, were interviewed. "Book Beat"'s final broadcast was September 9, 1993, with an interview with Ray Bradbury on the 40th anniversary of Farenheit 451.
There was uncertainty as to how to preserve this remarkable archive. Finally, the raw interviews, all on tape, were acquired by Ohio University in Athens, which digitized the material and posted it on its Wired for Books
Don Swaim Profile at Ohio University Library
Best of the Internet cites Don Swaim's Wired for Books interviews
Nov. 20, 2007
portrait of Don Swaim by
James "Doc" Tuverson
| || the AMBROSE
WCBS Newsradio 88
The Swaim in History
The Swaim in America
The Swimsuit Issue
A Few Other Amusing
Don Swaim Sites
Aspinwall High School
Ambrose Bierce Site
Bucks County Writers Workshop Errata
Steinbeck in Bucks Co
Growing Up in WW Two
Don's Houses: Where I've Been
Fighting the Hun in WW One
A SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER NEVER CRIES
Remarkable photo taken in 1976 shared by Kaylie Jones (A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries), daughter of James Jones (From Here to Eternity). At the left, at the far end of the bar, is Willie Morris (North Toward Home). In the center is Bunky Hearst (said to have owned the sled "Rosebud" that inspired Orson Welles's Citizen Kane.) I interviewed Willie Morris and both Joneses, so the photo has a haunting sense of deja vu to me...
Kaylie says: "My old friend from the James Jones Literary Society, Warren Mason, bought this photo from some archive. I've never seen this picture before. Didn't know it existed. I have so few photos of us together I'm just stunned."
| KAZUO ISHIGURO WINS NOBEL|
PRIZE IN LITERATURE
The Japanese-born, English raised novelist may be best known for his novel The Remains of the Day as well as his dystopian Never Let Me Go. I spoke to Ishiguro for my CBS Radio Book Beat feature -- in three parts: LISTEN
A transcript of my complete, unedited CBS interview with Ishiguro has been published by the University Press of Mississippi: Conversations with Kazuo Ishiguro.
| ART GARFUNKEL ON TOUR AGAIN
Singer and poet Art Garfunkel's memoir What Is It All But Luminous (Notes From An Underground Man) was issued by Penguin Random House in September 2017.
I spoke to Garfunkel (sans Simon) shortly after Art began his walk across America, an odyssey that took him twelve years. Art had just published a book of poetry, Still Water. LISTEN
J. P. DONLEAVY
Celebrated for The Ginger Man
Apr 23, 1926-Sep 11, 2017
The expatriate Donleavy, who died at the age of 91 in County Westmeath, Ireland, shook the literary world with his provocative novel The Ginger Man in 1955. I spoke to Donleavy in a five-part series of Book Beat reports: listen
The election of an unstable American president led to a revised interest in dystopian fiction, propelling Orwell's 1949 novel 1984 and others to the top of best-seller lists. The online streaming service Hulu produced a ten-part series based on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid Tale in which a right-wing totalitarian theocracy destroys gender equality in America.|
In a two-part feature series, I spoke to Atwood about her speculative fiction:
Don Swaim Interviews
Great Si-fi Writer
Aug 18, 1925-Aug 19, 2017
While Aldiss was best known for his fantasy and science fiction, he also wrote critically praised memoirs and autobiographical works. He won the two most prestigious awards for science fiction, the Hugo and the Nebula, and was named a grandmaster by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
I interviewed him on the occasion of his novel Helliconia Summer: listen
Pulitzer-winning literary critic
Mar 16, 1933-Mar 29, 2017
McPherson, literary critic for The Washington Post -- who later described his descent into poverty -- went into early retirement in order to write full time, but after suffering congestive heart failure, and finding his pension negligible, he fell into a humiliating precarious financial position. He described it in a revealing 2014 essay, "Falling." Before McPherson's decline I interviewed him on the occasion of his acclaimed first novel Testing the Current: listen
Legendary New York Journalist
Oct 17, 1930-Mar 2017
A two-fisted drinker and two-fingered typist, Jimmy was the epitome of the tough-talking tabloid reporter, as much poetic as profane. His hero was famed reporter Damon Runyon. I talked with Breslin about his idiosyncratic biography of Runyon in this three-part series: listen
Newbery and Caldecott prize winner
Jun 16, 1936-Feb 19, 2017
Willard was the graceful author of fiction and poetry for children and adults,I spoke to her on the occasion of her first adult novel: listen
Village Voice columnist, jazz authority, First Amendment champion
Jun 10, 1925-Jan 7, 2017
I spoke to Nat on the occasion of his memoir, Boston Boy, about growing up in what Hentoff said was America's most anti-Semitic city: listen
| MISTER SHIRER GIVES A TALK
As war clouds formed in the Europe of the 1930s, Edward R. Murrow's first hire for CBS News was the young one-eyed wire-service reporter William L. Shirer [1904-1993], whose book Berlin Diary, remains the definitive account of those awful days. In their formative broadcast years, Murrow and Shirer weren't allowed to go on the air themselves, but arranged for newspaper reporters to broadcast "talks." Don Swaim spoke with Shirer about his early days with Murrow:
ANOTHER OF MURROW'S BOYS
Renown CBS News Correspondent David Schoenbrun launched his career with CBS in 1939 as a part-time translator of foreign broadcasts. He tells about his relationship with Edward R. Murrow [three shots of Scotch and no script] during WW II and how Shoenbrun became the CBS News Paris Bureau Chief in 1947. In this 40-minute interview with Don Swaim, Shoenbrun also talks about his battles with the right-wing witch-hunters of his day, and, almost as bad, the CBS bureaucracy.
David Shoenbraun's America Inside Out
| Mario Cuomo 1932-2015|
One day in August, 1992, I dashed past a burly man in a suit, a surprised security guy it turned out, and into the 16th floor men's room of the CBS Building. There, at the urinal, was the Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo. As he and I stood next to each other performing our tasks, the governor turned to me, whom he recognized, saying, "We've got to stop meeting like this." From anyone else it would have been a rather lame, modestly funny, joke, but from the Governor of New York...
Cuomo had a bad back and whenever he went to CBS for an interview he sat on a board. One day he left, forgetting his board, abandoned on the seat of his chair. I phoned his flack to say the governor had forgotten his sitting-board, but the flack told me to keep it because he had several of them. On it are his signature and the great seal of New York. So I kept it. I still have the very board on which Governor Cuomo parked his ass, and upon which I now park mine. —DS
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FIGHTING THE HUN
On October 20, 1918, my grandfather, Captain John E. (Jack) Swaim, of the U.S. Army's 89th Division, was gassed by the Germans in the Argonne. He survived to tell of his combat in The Great War in both words and pictures. June 28, 2014, marked the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One.
I prepared a pictorial history of my grandfather's combat, told mostly in his own words and using photographs and postcards he sent home from Europe. He proved to be a damned good writer. Read it HERE.
THIS BOOK THING
To find out what this is about click HERE
Previous postings on Don Swaim's
Book Beat Site can be accessed below:
click Stylebook to read
BOOK BEAT, a daily feature about books and writers, was broadcast on WCBS-AM in New York from 1982 through 1993 and distributed nationally by the CBS Radio Stations News Service (CBS RSNS). Not mere commentary, the broadcasts featured the actual voices of hundreds of prominent writers interviewed by Don Swaim at CBS in New York. Organized chronologically, they're posted in the ARCHIVE section below as mp3 files. Use Search Site at the top of the page to locate a specific author. The unedited, never aired interviews, used as the basis for each Book Beat feature, are posted separately at Ohio University's WIRED FOR BOOKS.
Don at CBS
Don Photo Gallery
Some 3000 daily Book Beat broadcasts are archived below in chronological order:
Permissions to use Don Swaim's interviews in any form must obtained from Kelly Broughton at the Ohio University libraries. 740-593-2709 -- email.
DON'S SECRET MUSINGS 1985
click photos to enlarge
Stanley Elkin 4/16/85
"Stan, lemme try to explain something to you about the craft of fiction."
John Irving 5/24/85
"John, now if I'd written 'Garp' I would have ended it this way..."
Jane Ann Phillips 5/21/85
"This gal needs a personal writing tutor, and I'm just the guy."
Paul Theroux 5/27/85
"Paul, you may have gone to Timbuktu, but never to Asbury Park in January."
BOOK "MARKS" TV DEMOS
Two six-minute TV pilots with Don Swaim interviewing humorist Roy Blount, Jr., and novelist Hugh Nissenson for a show taped in 1987 for Walden Books. The project went nowhere, but the demos survive. Click on images below to start the Quicktime movies.
A broadcast-journalist's early career through and including Book Beat—
Ohio University's prestigious "Wired for Books" website went dark in 2016, thus eliminating access to the hundreds of author radio interviews over portions of three decades at CBS.
From Sara Harrington, Head of Arts and Archives, Ohio University Libraries:
The Ohio University Libraries look forward to making the contents of The Don Swaim Collection available online through the Libraries website.
The Libraries intend to make the following fully available online to the public:
Book Beat broadcasts
In order to best steward The Don Swaim Collection over the long term, the Libraries will make both preservation and use copies of audio in the Collection. Due to the ambitious nature of this project, The Libraries will take a staged approach to making Collection contents possible. We look forward to gradually making the fullest Collection contents available, and are certain that these rich resources which reflect and inform American literature, culture, history, and society will be of vital interest to students, scholars, and members of the public for years to come.
Full length interviews from which Book Beat broadcasts were created
Full-length transcripts for both broadcasts and interviews
Please contact Sara Harrington, Head of Arts and Archives, Ohio University Libraries, with questions and comments.
Meanwhile, all of the actual CBS Book Beat feature broadcasts, not the unedited interviews, can still be heard via THIS site by using the search box to locate specific authors.
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