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author interviews

Marshall W. Johnson / Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Seventy five years ago this month, the streets of Los Angeles turned violent in an event that came to be known as the Zoot Suit Riots. The cause is still unclear, but we know this: for 10 days in 1943, white service members attacked young Latino men on the streets of Southern California, while police turned the other way. The attacks are the subject of a new young adult novel by acclaimed children’s author Margarita Engle. In 2009, the Clovis author’s book "The Surrender Tree" won the prestigious Newberry Medal, the first book by a Latina to receive the honor.

Steve Yarbrough

The Central Valley has a rich literary tradition spanning generations. From Saroyan to Levine to Arax – journalists, poets, novelists and essayists have all found great inspiration in the valley’s soil, its people and the elements - good and bad - that make the region unique. The connection often extends even after a writer leaves the valley – as is the case with acclaimed novelist Steve Yarbrough.

Tanya Nichols

A new novel from Fresno-based author Tanya Nichols tells the story of an attorney, her young client, and how they both must deal with tragedies in their lives. The Circle Game is Nichols' second novel, and is set here in the San Joaquin Valley. She recently joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the process of writing the book, teaching creative writing at Fresno State, and about the inspiration for the novel.

If you’re a regular Valley Public Radio listener, you probably already know that your health depends a lot on where you live. But just 10 years ago, that field of research was still emerging.

Valley Public Radio listeners are familiar with the work of writer Howell Hurst. The former Kern County resident has had several of his short stories featured on the station's program Valley Writers Read. Now he has a new book "I Can't Hear the Drums Anymore" which collects many of those stories. He joined us on Valley Edition to talk about his writing. 

Finishing Line Press

Fresno has long been a hotbed of poetry, from Philip Levine to Larry Levis to Juan Felipe Herrera. Now a new generation of poets is taking up the tradition of chronicling the region's land and its people. Ronald Dzerigian is one of those poets, and his new book "Rough Fire" captures a unique slice of the local landscape. Dzerigian is a Fresno State MFA grad, and the new collection is his first book, due for release on July 20th 2018 by Finishing Line Press.

In a few months, California families from Eureka to Calexico will begin hopping in the family car for that grand American tradition of the road trip.

Harper Collins

A new biography of billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian tells the story of how a young boy from Fresno went on to become one of the richest businessmen in America. From airlines to film studios to the auto industry and casinos, Kerkorian was the consummate dealmaker, but he was also a quiet philanthropist, supporting Armenian causes through his Lincy Foundation. We recently spoke with journalist William C.

The highway plays an important part in the mystique of the American West. From the so-called "Mother Road" of Route 66 that wound from Chicago to LA, to the picturesque beauty of the California coast along Highway 1, our highways are more than just transportation infrastructure, they are a part of our culture. That’s certainly the case here in the middle of the state, where a ribbon of concrete and asphalt has stitched together towns big and small for decades – Highway 99.

Wildfires have always been a part of the Central California landscape. But in recent years blazes like the Detwiler Fire (2017) and the Erskine Fire (2016) have been different. In each case, veteran firefighters who have been on wildland blazes for decades say they saw the fires demonstrating "extreme" behavior like they haven't seen before. They burned hotter, faster, and didn't die down at night as fires typically do. 

Voice of Witness

A new book aims to document the stories of valley farmworkers through oral histories. It's the project of editor and independent journalist Gabriel Thompson, and features interviews with dozens of people who have spent their lives working in the fields of California. The book is called "Chasing The Harvest" and is published by the group Voice of Witness. Thompson joined us on Valley Edition to talk about his experiencing collecting the stories that make up the book.

Courtesy Evo Bluestein

Central California has a rich folk music tradition, which is being documented in a new book by Evo Bluestein. "The Road to Sweet’s Mill  -- Folk Music in the West during the 1960s and ’70s" comes out later this year and tells the story of the people and places behind the region's folk music sound, which flourished at Sierra music camp that gives the book its name, as well as other venues. Bluestein is also presenting a special concert to celebrate the new book taking place this Saturday at Fresno State's Whalberg Recital Hall.

Armen Bacon / Fresno State

Author Armen Bacon joins Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore to talk about her new collection of essays, "My Name Is Armen Volume 2: Outside The Lines." Published by Fresno State, the new book finds Bacon telling stories about her life and the people she has met in Central California.

Heyday Books / Fresno State

Illustrator and author Doug Hansen's work is immediately familiar to many Fresno area residents. For years Hansen worked as a staff illustrator for the Fresno Bee, producing a popular series on local landmarks and places throughout Central California. Now an art professor at Fresno State, Hansen has taken his love of illustrating California scenes into a new field - children's books.

Hey Day Books

Next Thursday Fresno art lovers will celebrate the city’s galleries and art spaces with the monthly first-Thursday event known as Art Hop. But lovers of the printed word will have another opportunity that night to meet some of the valley’s most insightful and talented authors at an event being billed as “Bookhop.”

Oxford University Press

It was one of the biggest scandals the country had ever seen - the theft of U.S. government secrets about the atomic bomb that wound up in the hands of the Soviet Union. The federal government eventually tried and executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for conspiracy, sparking an international outcry. Now the story of the Rosenbergs is back in the news, as there is an effort underway to seek a presidential pardon in their case.

Ezra David Romero

Let's face it. America loves giant sequoia trees. Native Americans believe they hold spiritual value, early settlers tried to exploit the trees and today the trees adorn the National Park Service's badge. 

In a new book called "King Sequoia: The Tree That Inspired a Nation, Created Our National Park System, and Changed the Way We Think about Nature" author William C. Tweed weaves together a narrative of human contact with the big trees. He outlines who tried to exploit them and eventually what it took to protect them. 

A California enters its sixth year of drought, journalist Charles Fishman says that residents aren't doing nearly enough to adapt to the "new normal" in a state that is becoming increasingly dry. Fishman, who is the author of the book "The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water" is speaking in Bakersfield on Thursday October 27th at the CSUB Icardo Center at 7:00 PM as part of the culminating event of the One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern community read. 

30 Million Words Initiative

Back in the 1990’s researchers discovered something that has wide ranging impacts to anyone interested in early childhood development. Children who grow up in families struggling with poverty hear 30 million fewer words by age 3 than those who grow up in more affluent homes.

For Fresno natives of a certain age, Al Radka, the Fulton Mall, Lesterburger and parties in "the figs" all are cultural touchstones that bring back memories of a simpler time. They're also the subject of a new book by journalist Steven H. Provost titled "Fresno Growing Up: A City Comes of Age: 1945-1985." From historic photos of long lost Fresno landmarks to stories about life in the 50's and 60's, the new book seeks to capture the essence of an era when so many baby boomers grew up.

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