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Best of the Book Nook: Remembering Tony Horwitz


The first time I had Tony Horwitz on the program he had just published his landmark work of non-fiction "Confederates in the Attic." Tony gave a wonderful interview that day. I loved that book so much that I had him on the show again for the paperback release. Over the years I did four interviews with Tony. His partner, the novelist Geraldine Brooks has made three appearances in the Book Nook.

Tony put out his most recent book, "Spying on the South," earlier this year. This new book feels like a bookend in a way to "Confederates in the Attic." I was excited about interviewing Tony again. He was out on book tour and while he was on the west coast I tried to schedule an interview with him. His schedule was quite hectic and we were unable to connect by phone due to the time difference. He was available after 5pm eastern time and that would not work for us here in Ohio. So his publicist scheduled an interview with Tony when he would be back on the east coast. I was going to call him at his hotel in Richmond. Two days before that interview was supposed to happen Tony died. What a shock.

I went back into our archive and found an interview I did with Tony for his book "Blue Latitudes." This memorial program begins with an excerpt from that interview. It was an interview that almost didn't happen. At the time I had contacted his publicist and said that I wanted to talk to Tony again when he was in our area on book tour. She never arranged anything. On the day that Tony was in SW Ohio he called me in the WYSO air studio. He was on a cell phone while he drove to an event. He told me that his publicist had never scheduled anything and he was puzzled because he wanted to be on the show and he was certain that I would want him back as a guest. I was on the air hosting the Excursions music program that day and I said hey, let's do an interview right now. So we did.

The next day I was puzzled when I received a big box via FedEx from "Harry and David," It was full of expensive looking pears and apples. There was a note from his publicist apologizing for messing up on Tony's interview. About a week later another package arrived. It was from Tony. He had enclosed a lovely letter with copies of all of his books. They were signed and inscribed. What a kind, generous man.

Our second excerpt on the program is from my first interview with Geraldine Brooks. That day she talked about how she and Tony had first met.

If you get a chance track down Tony's books. He was an incredible reporter and writer. I miss him.

We had a little extra time so I have closed out the show with an excerpt from an interview I did many years ago with the humorist Art Buchwald. He was going to be coming to Dayton to honor his friend, the late Erma Bombeck.

The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro LibraryWright Memorial Public Library, and Microsun Lamps.

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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.