Books & Beats

Book reviews and concert previews brought to you by Betsy Burton, co-owner of The King's English Bookshop, and Austen Diamond, producer of 13% Salt. Books & Beats airs Saturdays at 7:35 a.m. and 9:35 a.m. during NPR's Weekend Edition.

Books & Beats: June 27, 2015

Jun 26, 2015
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Milan Kundera has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature more than once.  In his latest novel, The Festival of Insignificance (Harper), the host of a party hides the truth about his cancer from the guests, and Joseph Stalin’s life is adapted to Marionette theater.  Betsy Burton says, “The party and its aftermath, past memories of women, not to mention Stalin and his stooges, summon up the banality of evil and yet enchan

Books & Beats: June 20, 2015

Jun 18, 2015
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In I Saw a Man (Nan A. Talese) by Owen Sheers, what starts as a mundane chore becomes a deep meditation on a man’s past.  Betsy Burton says “it’s a novel that tells truth about life and about relationships. Who could ask for more?”

The Utah Arts Festival is coming right up, and Austen Diamond has the celebration’s live music covered.

Books & Beats: June 13, 2015

Jun 12, 2015
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In The Sunken Cathedral (Scribner), the latest novel from Kate Walbert, two World War 2 survivors take a painting class together. Reviewer Betsy Burton says the book gets at “the ways our interior lives assimilate and hold, at least in memory, our hurts, our hopes, our satisfactions, our terrors, our loves. Pure Walbert, purely stunning—as always.”

Books & Beats: June 6, 2015

Jun 4, 2015
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In Jonathan Galassi’s novel Muse (Knopf), booklover Paul Dukach is caught up in the rivalry between two men—each lions of the publishing industry—and the famous poet they both love. In her review, Betsy Burton says the book’s “deepest pleasure is its paean to books—and to those who write them, those who bring them to the marketplace, those who sell them.”

Books & Beats: May 30, 2015

May 28, 2015
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Author Kent Haruf died last November.  His final novel Our Souls at Night (Knopf) finds him reflecting on old age. Louis, a long-time widower, gets a knock on his door one night. It’s a widow who was once friends with his late wife. And she has a proposal for him.

Books & Beats: May 23, 2015

May 22, 2015
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Jim Shepard’s new novel The Book of Aron (Knopf) takes us back to the Warsaw Ghetto, where Jews are being rounded up by the invading Nazis.  We follow young Aron, as he and other children scavenge and barter for food to give their families.  In her review, Betsy Burton says that “this novel, which is by turns incandescent and chilling, funny, morally repellant, and compassionate, is a book you’ll never forget.”

Books & Beats: May 16, 2015

May 15, 2015
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In God Help the Child (Knopf), the latest offering from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Toni Morrison, the life of a lovesick fashion icon is intertwined with another woman's release from prison. Reviewer Betsy Burton says "The story line, eviscerating at times, can take us by surprise... The imagery is cinematic, the writing fluid, evocative, yet more pared down than in Morrison's previous work."

Books & Beats: May 9, 2015

May 7, 2015
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In The Sympathizer (Grove Press), the debut novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a nameless double agent juggles genuine loyalties to friends on both sides of the Vietnam War. Betsy Burton says "this portrayal of a man who sees and understands far more than one perspective is eye-opening--at first cynically amusing, and in the end an indictment not just of war but of the world and the mad, bad way it endlessly turns."

Books & Beats: May 2, 2015

May 1, 2015
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In What Comes Next and How to Like It (Scribner), the new memoir by Abigail Thomas, a lifelong friendship accompanies the author as she ascends into old age. Betsy Burton says the book is "moving, wise, and vastly comforting."

Books & Beats: April 25, 2015

Apr 24, 2015
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Betsy Burton reviews Antonio Ruiz-Camacho's debut collection of stories Barefoot Dogs (Scribner). She says you'll be "dazzled by the narrative, wondering, sometimes laughing."  Ruiz-Camacho will be at The King's English on Thursday, April 30th.

Books & Beats: April 18, 2015

Apr 20, 2015

Betsy Burton discovers a hidden America in her review of All Involved (ECCO) by Ryan Gattis.  Then try to pick just one great concert to see this week.  Austen Diamond says it'll be a tough choice.

Books & Beats: April 4, 2015

Apr 10, 2015

Betsy Burton explores the Western landscape with the likes of Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey in her review of All the Wild that Remains (Norton) by David Gessner. Then Austen Diamond preps us for Punch Brothers' bluegrass goodness.

Books & Beats: March 28, 2015

Mar 30, 2015
Courtesy of the Artist.

In Betsy Burton's review of Night Life (Forge) by David Taylor, a rogue detective is caught between the CIA, FBI, and Joseph McCarthy's communist witch hunts.  Then Jazz SLC brings Manhattan Trinity to town--featuring pianist Kenny Barron.

Books & Beats: March 21, 2015

Mar 23, 2015

In Betsy Burton's review of The Enchanted (Harper Perennial) by Rene Denfeld, a prisoner, an investigator, and a fallen priest look for salvation on death row.  And Austen Diamond welcomes Hurray for the Riff Raff to Salt Lake City.  

Books & Beats: March 14, 2015

Mar 12, 2015
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In Betsy Burton's review of H is for Hawk (Grove Press) by Helen Macdonald, the grieving author finds comfort in companionship with a deadly predator. And the Pimps of Joytime tickle Austen Diamond's funky bone.  

Books & Beats: March 7, 2015

Mar 6, 2015

An older couple travels across dead King Arthur's Medieval Britain in Betsy Burton's review of The Buried Giant (Knopf) by Kazuo Ishiguro.  And Austen Diamond kicks Saint Patrick's Day off early with The Young Dubliners.   

Books & Beats: February 28, 2015

Mar 2, 2015
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Three generations of family drama plays out under one roof in Betsy Burton's review of A Spool of Blue Thread (Knopf) by Anne Tyler. Then, Austen Diamond navigates the lyrical acrobatics of Doomtree.  

Books & Beats: February 21, 2015

Feb 27, 2015
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Skateboarding saves a young boy from a life trapped indoors--Betsy Burton reviews Michael Christie's If I Fall, If I Die (Hogarth). And Austen Diamond keeps the spirit of Mardi Gras alive with Galactic.

One woman’s journey from local beauty queen to sit-com stardom - Betsy Burton reviews Funny Girl (Riverhead Hardcover) by Nick Hornby. Then—Austen Diamond shares how Dr. Dog captures the magic of their live shows.

Courtesy of the Artist

Explore the different roles medicine plays in life and death with Atul Gawande's Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Metropolitan Books) and a preview of Sleater-Kinney's highly anticipated reunion show.

The perfect book/concert combo for the mid-winter blahs - The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puértolas (Knopf) and G. Love & Special Sauce.

A tense Western featuring a story marked by a prison riot - Betsy Burton reviews Black River by S.M. Hulse (Houghton Mifflin). And Austen Diamond previews the upcoming show by songwriter Mark Kozelek, formerly of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon.

Courtesy of the Artist

Betsy Burton reviews Stewart O’Nan’s fictional biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s troubled years in Hollywood, West of Sunset (Viking Adult) and Austen Diamond previews the upcoming show by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Kishi Bashi.

Betsy Burton introduces us to Ausma Zehanat Khan's The Unquiet Dead (Minotaur), a dark mystery novel set in Bosnia she says transcends its genre. And Austen Diamond previews Aoife O’Donovan’s upcoming concert in Park City.

Betsy Burton explores grief and time in How to be Both (Pantheon) by Ali Smith. And Austen Diamond gets us ready for SLUG Magazine's monthly concert series, Localized.

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Betsy Burton reviews Richard Ford's Let Me Be Frank With You (Ecco Press) and Austen Diamond previews live shows by Colorado-based Elephant Revival.

Betsy Burton previews Requiem for the Living (University of Utah Press) by Jeff Metcalf, a collection of 52 essays influenced by his prostate cancer diagnosis. And Austen Diamond previews the live show by local headbangers Eagle Twin.

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Betsy Burton reviews Mark Strand’s Collected Poems (Knopf) – a Pulitzer Prize winner and National Poet Laureate, Strand passed away last month. And Austen Diamond previews the upcoming holiday shows by The Lower Lights.

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Betsy Burton reviews Teresa Jordan’s The Year of Living Virtuously: Weekends Off (Counterpoint LLC) and Austen Diamond previews the show by Portland-Oregon-based Horse Feathers.

Teresa Jordan will visit The King’s English on Tuesday, December 9 at 7 p.m. to read from and sign her new book.

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Austen Diamond previews the upcoming show by singer-songwriter Joshua James and Betsy Burton reviews another heart-stopping mystery, this time it’s The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen (Dutton Adult).

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