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Best of the Book Nook: The Poet in Exile, by Ray Manzarek


When you live in a state like Ohio you have to deal with many mistaken notions. Some people on the east coast don't really have a comprehension of what it is like out here in flyover country and that can be a good thing. Allow me to explain.

Book publicists frequently contact me by e-mail to see if I'm interested in interviewing authors who will be in my area. Or at least they think that will be the case. Ohio is a big state so when I get a pitch from a publicist wondering if I can talk to an author who will be appearing soon at say, the South Euclid branch I'll check out the info. Then if I'm not really interested in doing an interview I'll point out to the publicist that the South Euclid branch is probably in Cleveland and that is a long way from where I am in SW Ohio.

Now and then I'll get a pitch for an author who is coming to Cleveland who I really want to interview. That's when I do the dance and say, sure, let's book an interview. Can we do it by telephone? There's no need for the author to come to the radio station.

15 years ago I was contacted by a publicist who wondered in I might be interested in interviewing Ray Manzarek. I was flabbergasted. I said, Ray Manzarek, as in the keyboard player for the legendary rock band THE DOORS?! Do you mean that Ray Manzarek?! Ray had written a novel and he was going to be flying into Cleveland for an event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I instantly agreed to do an interview. I didn't mention that Yellow Springs is quite a distance from Cleveland. I knew I would never get another chance to interview a founding member of one of my favorite groups from the 1960's.

So I booked the interview. I spoke to Ray on the telephone on the day that his book "The Poet in Exile" came out paperback. He encouraged me to come see him when he was going to be in town. We talked about his book which is the story of a rock star very much like Jim Morrison, the lead singer of The Doors. Morrison died young and it was a tragedy. In Ray's book he imagined what it would have been like if someone like Morrison had faked his own death. What if he was really still alive?

We mixed in some Doors music tracks into this new edition of the interview. I got to talk to Ray about the music he was into at the time we recorded this program. I was even so bold as to suggest some music that he might want to hear. We had a good conversation that day. Ray Manzarek is no longer with us. If there is such a thing as a rock and roll heaven I'm imagining the wonderful music that they must be making up there; Jim Morrison might be singing a duet with Janis Joplin. Jimi Hendrix is flashing some guitar licks. And there's Ray Manzarek on the keyboards, laying down some smoking riffs. Imagine that.


The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by five local library systems in southwest Ohio:  the Greene County Public Library,  Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

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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.