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Author Armistead Maupin uses a humorous incident at a book reading to illustrate his reasoning for why people read and write.
Authors Michael Chabon and Zadie Smith weigh in on whether they prefer writing fiction or non-fiction. Chabon explains why he leans toward fiction, while Smith discusses her preference for sticking to the facts.
Author Joan Didion describes the phenomenon of readers who approach her for advice about dealing with hardship and grieving inspired by the themes and subjects of her works.
Former poet laureate Robert Pinsky and his band perform "Horn," a poem set to music about hearing jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker play.
Author Lorrie Moore discusses the importance of reading today.
She argues that, while watching a good movie is better than reading a bad book, the power of the written word remains unmatched.
Author Tobias Wolff reads an excerpt from his well known short story Bullet in the Brain.
A panel consisting of Jonathan Safran Foer, Tea Obreht, and Gary Shteyngart contemplates the death of the novel. Foer believes the novel can't compete with technology, while Shteyngart sees fiction as the new poetry. Adam Gopnik moderates.
Toni Morrison discusses the theme of separating race from slavery in her book, A Mercy.
During her research, Morrison discovered that "everybody was for rent or for sale" in the early US, not just African Americans.
She includes an indentured white servant, a Native American girl, and a young African American woman among the cast of enslaved characters.
Accomplished fiction writer Joyce Carol Oates believes that stories of violence, dysfunction and tragedy are simply misunderstood expressions of the human experience.
Jonathan Franzen, acclaimed author of The Corrections and Freedom, discusses taking a break from novels to write The Corrections series for HBO.
Salman Rushdie discusses the role of storytelling in Renaissance Europe and in the Mughal Empire, a major premise of his new novel, explaining that since "this wasn't a world of information media" and the storyteller had no way of proving his facts, the storytelling could be very risky.
Award-winning author Chuck Palahniuk weighs in on the cultural legacy of his novel Fight Club. Palahniuk attributes the origin of Fight Club to his involvement with the Cacophony Society.
Former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins reads his poem, 'The Lanyard.' Unusually successful for a poet, Collins' writing is inventive, ironic and lyrical. Collins served as Poet Laureate from 2001 through 2003.