cover image Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life

Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life

Michael Krasny. Stanford University Press, $24.95 (317pp) ISBN 978-0-8047-5671-6

Long-time host of KQED's Forum, Kransy always lusted after literature, pursuing a degree in it despite the protestations of his mother, who warned it might impress girls but would never make him money. Instead of pushing out a worthy novel, however, Krasny canonizes his talk radio career in this memoir, placing stories from his juicy backlog of interviews alongside tales of a neglectful father, his Ohio State fraternity, procreating and purchasing a home. His steadily honed love of language is palpable and infectious, suited more to the book party-hopping literary junkie than the broadcast historian. Eminent newsmakers, literary greats and iconoclasts open up to him like patients on a psychiatrist's couch; the self-proclaimed ""writer's interviewer"" reveals that for Michael Chabon, ""it's irritating to come up with technical matters like plot and character""; that an ""owl-like"" Joyce Carol Oates allowed him to cradle her ""as she went speechless on air... over her beloved deceased literary agent""; and that T.C. Boyle believes his wild story ""If the River Was Whiskey"" could have been written by anybody. Though dense at times, the text's winding path toward self-definition is rewarding. Krasny posits how little he actually knows after a lifetime of reading and questioning, happily concluding that, like most everyone else, he has experienced over his life a confluence of ordinary and extraordinary, and been fortunate enough to live to write about it.