Book Beat: The Podcast/Wired for Books

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


Don Swaim
An imagining by K.A. Silva
click to enlarge


Don Photo Gallery
HERE

Don's Houses
Where He's Lived

HERE


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
Amazon
Hippocampus Press


DEFINITIVE INTERVIEW
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
HERE


archy, mehitabel & james whitcomb riley
meditation by don swaim

read


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. Bauer
Don 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
zombie lullabye
click HERE

lyrics by Don Swaim

REANIMATION BABY RAG
click HERE

lyrics by Don Swaim





BOOK BEAT'S
HISTORY

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:


click to enlarge

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.

POSTSCRIPT

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 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.




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 BIERCE site



WCBS Newsradio 88
Appreciation Site



The Swaim in History



The Swaim in America



The Swimsuit Issue


A Few Other Amusing
Don Swaim Sites

  • Radio Days  
  • Aspinwall High School  
  • Ambrose Bierce Site  
  • Bucks County Writers Workshop 
  • Errata  
  • Steinbeck in Bucks Co  
  • Pennsylvania Sunsets  
  • 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: listen

    2017
    Don Swaim Interviews
    *
    BRIAN ALDISS
    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
    *
    WILLIAM McPHERSON
    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
    *
    JIMMY BRESLIN
    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
    *
    NANCY WILLARD
    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
    *
    NAT HENTOFF
    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
    *

    DOSSIER
    How I almost read the inaugral poem at the swearing-in of Donald J. Trump
    HERE


    EVEN GREAT WRITERS SOMETIMES MAKE MISTAKES

    And Ambrose Bierce's excruciating, long-running LITTLE JOHNNY stories are no exception.

    Read Don's essay HERE



    The Amazon Prime movie Elvis and Nixon (with Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon and Michael Shannon as Elvis Presley) centered around a famous meeting between the president and the performer. It brought to mind my own meeting with Nixon, after his humiliating resignation in the face of impeachment. My own encounter with Nixon, however, while not without its foibles, had nothing to do with Watergate or politics, but all to do with books, writing, and reading. Read and Listen HERE


    MISTER SHIRER GIVES A TALK

    Murrow, Shirer
    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: LISTEN

    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.
    LISTEN:
    David Shoenbraun's America Inside Out

    HE VANISHES INTO MEXICO NEVER TO RETURN—OR NOT?

    Edited and with an introduction by S. T. Joshi
    Book design by David E. Schultz
    Cover art by Jared Boggess


    review by Publishers Weekly
    review by Oldstyle Tales Press


    Amazon.com
    Hippocampus Press

    Sandra Carey Cody Interviews Don Swaim about The Assassination on Ambrose Bierce: A Love Story on her blog: Birth of a Novel


    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


    click images to enlarge

    ORIGINAL ARTICLES ABOUT
    AMBROSE BIERCE

    ____________________

    The Joshi Q&A
    Exclusive interview with S.T. Joshi,
    leading authority on Bierce & the weird tale


    Ambrose Bierce & the Little Blue Books

    Stephen Vincent Benét, Ambrose Bierce, and Me
    Two Fabulists

    The Blasphemer Robert G. Ingersoll
    Why He Mattered to Bierce

    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Don Swaim's photo-essay on the kaleidoscope HERE

    Ambrose & Henry
    H.L Mencken's debt to Bierce

    Edwin Markham: The Man Who Irked Bierce
    (and wrote about zombies)

    Bierce's Typewriter

    Ambrose Bierce Alley
    Photo-essay



    FIGHTING THE HUN
    IN WWI

    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


    A Book Collector's Journey
    The search for the elusive "Kipe Offset" variant of the 1945 illustrated edition of Steinbeck's classic novella took years, but most bibliphiles have to be a little mad. My illustrated essay describes the quest for The Red Pony and a little about the mind of a book collector. Read HERE --Don Swaim

    ____________________

    Previous postings on Don Swaim's
    Book Beat Site can be accessed below:


    ARCHIVES #5
    2015-2016
    HERE


    ARCHIVES #4
    2014
    HERE


    ARCHIVES #3
    2013
    HERE


    ARCHIVES #2
    2010-2012
    HERE


    ARCHIVES #1
    2008-2009
    HERE




    click Stylebook to read
    SEARCH

    Find the hundreds of authors interviewed by Don Swaim with the above search box.
    __________

    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 Swaim


    Don at CBS


    Don Photo Gallery
    HERE


    ARCHIVE
    Some 3000 daily Book Beat broadcasts are archived below in chronological order:


    To find a specific author -- out of several hundred on the site -- type name in search box above.



    OHIO UNIVERSITY
    ONLINE

    Among the outstanding authors interviewed by Don Swaim on CBS Radio's Book Beat & posted on Ohio University's Wired for Books:

    NOTE: Direct links to the University's Wired for Books archives are currently broken

    American Book Award winners:
    Russell Banks | Sandra Cisneros | Henry Louis Gates, Jr. | William Kennedy | Paule Marshall | Toni Morrison | Gary Snyder | Art Spiegelman | John Edgar Wideman

    Booker Prize winners:
    Margaret Atwood | John Banville | Ian McEwan | Kazuo Ishiguro | Ruth Prawer Jhabvala |
    Thomas Keneally | Bernice Rubens | Graham Swift | Barry Unsworth

    Edgar Award winners:
    Lawrence Block | Mary Higgins Clark | Dick Francis | Frederick Forsyth | Tony Hillerman | P. D. James | Stuart Kaminsky | Elmore Leonard | Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) | Robert B. Parker | T. Jefferson Parker | Ruth Rendell | Joseph Wambaugh | Donald Westlake

    Hugo Award winners:
    Isaac Asimov |
    Ray Bradbury
    Anne McCaffrey

    Lewis Thomas Prize for Science Writing :
    Oliver Sacks


    Literarian Award winner:
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti


    Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters winners:
    Judy Blume | Ray Bradbury | Joan Didion | James Laughlin | Norman Mailer | Toni Morrison | Adrienne Rich | Studs Terkel | John Updike

    National Book Award winners:
    John Barth | Kevin Boyle | James Carroll | James Dickey | Joan Didion | E. L. Doctorow | Richard Eberhart | Allen Ginsberg | John Irving | James Jones | Tracy Kidder | Maxine Hong Kingston | Jerzy Kosinski | Jonothan Kozol | Louis L'Amour | Barry Lopez | Paul Monette | Toni Morrison | Joyce Carol Oates | William L. Shirer | Susan Sontag | Robert Stone | William Styron | John Updike | Gore Vidal

    National Book Critics Circle Award winners:
    E. L. Doctorow | Stanley Elkin | John C. Gardner | William Kennedy | Toni Morrison | Reynolds Price | Jane Smiley | John Updike


    Nobel Prize winners:
    Gunter Grass | Doris Lessing | Elie Weisel| Toni Morrison | Kazuo Ishiguro

    PEN-Faulkner Award for Fiction winners:
    T. Coraghessan Boyle | Michael Cunningham | E. L. Doctorow | John Updike | John Edgar Wideman | Richard Wiley | Tobias Wolff

    Pulitzer Prize winners:
    Carl Bernstein | Robert Olen Butler | Michael Cunningham | Richard Eberhart | Oscar Hijuelos | Stanley Karnow William Kennedy | Tracy Kidder | Alison Lurie | Norman Mailer | Toni Morrison |
    Jane Smiley | Gary Snyder | Studs Terkel | John Updike

    New York Public Library Literary Lion:
    Kurt Vonnegut
    Copyright Note:
    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."
    listen



    John Irving 5/24/85
    "John, now if I'd written 'Garp' I would have ended it this way..."
    listen



    Jane Ann Phillips 5/21/85
    "This gal needs a personal writing tutor, and I'm just the guy."
    listen



    Paul Theroux 5/27/85
    "Paul, you may have gone to Timbuktu, but never to Asbury Park in January."
    listen



    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.


    Roy Blount


    Hugh Nissenson



    Radio Dreams
    A broadcast-journalist's early career through and including Book Beat—
    [audio runs 17 minutes]
  • RADIO DAYS
    college days of a would-be broadcaster — a memoir
    of angst & anxiety here
     


    DON'S OTHER SITES

  • WCBS Appreciation Site 
  • Book Beat: The Podcast 
  • Wired for Books  
  • Radio Days  
  • Aspinwall High School  
  • Ambrose Bierce Site  
  • Bucks County Writers Workshop 
  • Errata  
  • Steinbeck in Bucks Co  
  • Pennsylvania Sunsets  
  • Growing Up in WW Two  
  • Don's Houses: Where I've Been  
  • Fighting the Hun in WW One  
  • Stuart Cummings Ripley Site
  • Swaim Name in History
  • The Swaim in America
  • The Swimsuit Issue


    Don's Photo Gallery HERE


    PREVIOUS BOOK BEAT
    SITE POSTINGS


    Archive #1 2008-2009
    Archive #2 2010-2012
    Archive #3 2013
    Archive #4 2014

    Archive #5 2015-2016






  • UPDATE

    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
  • Full length interviews from which Book Beat broadcasts were created
  • Full-length transcripts for both broadcasts and interviews
  • 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.

    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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