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Book Nook: The Last Illusion, by Porochista Khakpour


Before I fell in love with books I had to fall in love with language. And what is language? Words, I fell in love with words. The sounds of words. Their meanings. Certain words have incredible potency. Many exquisite sounding words are names. Place names. The names of people and things. Years ago I was interviewing Professor Harold Bloom. This was our second interview and we had established a slight rapport. Bloom has be our most dignified and intellectual cultural critic. He's a peculiar genius and while I might not always agree with his fierce viewpoints I certainly respect the thought and emotion he puts into their expression. As that interview began he told me that he thought that my name, Vick Mickunas, was what he considered to be "a euphoric name." He liked the sound of it as he pronounced it. I was flattered but I didn't really get what he was saying until recently.

It has taken me years to gain some sense of what he really meant. Dr. Bloom was expressing his love for language and the ways it can sound. My name was his example. I'm finally beginning to comprehend.  One thing that has given me a better understanding of what he was saying that day has been my discovery of a writer named Porochista Khakpour. I love the way her name sounds. Say it again: Porochista Khakpour. It has that euphoric sound quality, doesn't it? What silky bursts of sound.

Porochista is a vastly imaginative novelist. She's also an extraordinary reader, essayist, critic, and teacher. I just heard a rumor that she'll be teaching a course at Miami University in Oxford next year. She has read deeply, the classics, yet she's also a prolific new media contributor. Check out her Twitter page some time. You won't believe it.

Her most recent novel, "The Last Illusion," recently came out in paperback. It is the story of the Bird Boy of Manhattan. That's all I'm saying about it. Okay, one more clue, her story was inspired by an ancient Persian legend. In this interview we talked about our euphoric sounding names, her reading habits, 9/11, and her current project, a memoir about her very non-euphoric illness. I hope I can interview her again. I just love saying her name on the radio.

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Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them.  Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.