Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To the Best of Our Knowledge: Authenticity

To the Best of Our Knowledge

There's no question – we crave authenticity. You want "real" Chinese or Mexican food? Then make sure you find a restaurant that makes food the way it's made in the old country. Music lovers are also obsessed with authenticity - from folk and blues to rap...just consider the mantra of hip hop - "keeping it real." It's no different in politics. Think about our insatiable hunger for politicians who are genuine, not packaged. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge we'll explore authenticity.


Cultural Critic Richard Todd looked at modern life and saw others telling what is and isn't real. He wrote a book called "The Thing Itself: On the Search for Authenticity." He tells Anne Strainchamps that authenticity is less a condition in itself than a desire. Sherman Alexie is a celebrated fiction writer who is also Spokane and strong opinions about what it means to be a real Indian. Steve Paulson asked him to read an excerpt from his story "The Search Engine." And, music critic Yuval Taylor tells Steve Paulson that authenticity in music is a complicated business. Taylor is the co-author (with Hugh Barker) of "Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music." And we hear examples, from Leadbelly to Punk.


Vikram Chandra touched off a bidding war among New York publishers for his new novel, "Sacred Games." But he writes in English, the language of the colonizer, and faces accusations that he's not really an Indian writer. Chandra talks with Jim Fleming about his personal history and sense of identity as a writer. And don't look for authenticity on your plate, either! That's the message of Barry Glassner's book, "The Gospel of Food." He talks with Steve Paulson about so-called "authentic" Chinese and Mexican food.


Alan Doyle, Bob Hallet and Sean McCann are the founding members of the band Great Big Sea. Their music has its roots in Newfoundland traditional folk music, but it rocks! They tells Jim Fleming why they combine folk and rock and how they approach their music. And we hear lots of it. The band's new album is called "The Hard and the Easy."

To Listen to the Episode

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