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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 21 February 2010

Mariella Frostrup is joined by a writer who has pursued an unusual dual career. The poet and essayist Thomas Lynch is also a funeral director, running a successful business in rural Michigan which was set up by his father. He talks about his first collection of stories, Apparition and Late Fictions, and explains how his daily proximity to death has affected his approach to life.

There's also advice for an Open Book listener who has found it difficult to concentrate on reading since a bereavement 15 years ago. The director of the Reader Organisation Jane Davis makes some suggestions.

The historian Lucy Moore celebrates the biting satire of Anita Loos, the author of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as the film it inspired is rereleased.

Michele Roberts picks out some of the best new French fiction, including books by the enormously successful Anna Gavalda and the 2008 Nobel Laureate JMG Le Clézio.


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    Mariella Frostrup is joined by the poet and essayist Thomas Lynch is also a funeral director.

  • Book list

    Thomas Lynch: Apparition & Late Fictions
    Publisher: Jonathan Cape

    Anita Loos: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes & But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes
    Publisher: Penguin Classics

    Lucy Moore: Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties
    Publisher: Atlantic Books

    Anna Gavalda (trans. Alison Anderson): Consolation
    Publisher: Chatto and Windus

    JMG Le Clézio (trans. C. Dickson): Desert
    Publisher: Atlantic Books

    Natascha Appanah (trans. Geoffrey Strachan): The Last Brother
    Publisher: Quercus


    Poem for the Day (anthology)
    Publisher: Chatto and Windus

    Neil Astley (ed.): Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times
    Publisher: Bloodaxe Books

    Nikolai Tolstoy: Anna Karenina (audiobook)
    Various versions available

    Tobias Wolff: Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories
    Publisher: Bloomsbury

    Anton Chekhov: Stories
    Various collections available

    The Reader Organisation - further information


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