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Book Nook: The National Road-Dispatches from a Changing America by Tom Zoellner


Vick Mickunas' 2020 interview with Tom Zoellner

2020 has been a very weird year. From my perspective as someone who is always looking for interesting books and opportunities to speak to authors it has been extremely frustrating. Over the 26 years that I have been talking to writers about there work I have always been able to rely upon book publicists to send me books, contact authors on my behalf, and schedule and arrange interviews. While I still obtain assistance from publicists their participation has really dwindled.

In 2020 I have found that many authors are feeling the way that I do, that many publicists have simply stopped participating in this process. Authors have been reaching out to me directly to try to gain some notice for their work. Tom Zoellner is one such author. He e-mailed me and asked if I might be interested in checking out his new essay collection; "The National Road-Dispatches from a Changing America." He put me in touch with his publicist and she sent me the book. Thank you, dear publicist. I read the book. I loved it. I scheduled an interview with the author.

Allow me to state that once Tom gave me the info to contact his publicist that she offered to help me schedule an interview. At that point, since I was in direct contact with the author already I suggested that I would go ahead and schedule the interview myself.

That was the easy part. The difficulty we had was in trying to find a way for Tom to do the interview on a land-line phone to give us the best audio quality. Tom went through quite a lot of hassle locating that phone line. He wrote a great book. He gave us a wonderful interview. And he worked hard to make this program happen.

Book publicists seem to want to focus their efforts on major metro markets these days. I just spoke to a friend of mine who is deeply involved with book publicity in Chicago. We were chatting about authors we have interviewed recently and he told me that there are not that many book programs like this one. He told me that there are no book shows on the radio whatsoever in the metro Chicago area. None. Hearing that really makes me wonder why book publicists are not reaching out even more than before. But they are not. Six of the last seven interviews I have scheduled were booked directly between me, the interviewer, and the authors. It never used to be that way. 2020 was a very strange year.

I am so glad that Tom Zoellner went to the trouble to bring his book to my attention. He is a superb writer and these are fascinating essays. This book was one of my top non-fiction reads of the year.

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

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.