Former Shows & Episodes

Word Patriots

Mark Seinfelt

Word Patriots – Turk asks about “At Last The Distinguished Thing”

This week on Word Patriots, we welcome Turk back into the studio, and I comment upon the eerie coincidence that while Turk was in the hospital, I was reading next week’s guest Donald Anderson’ s short story cycle “Fire Road,” in which the protagonist Stephan Mann undergoes the very same surgical procedure that Turk underwent and how Donald himself had an intestine that exploded. This leads to a discussion about nonfiction and fiction and how word patriots take events that happened in their own lives and transfer them to their fictional avatars. We briefly discuss Diane Ackerman’s wonderful nonfiction war story “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and Jared Diamond’s comment that “this powerful thriller would be a great novel—except that it happens to be true.” I note how Diane went to great lengths striving for accuracy and verisimilitude in her book about Polish Christian zookeepers Jan and Antonia Zabiniski, who secretly harbored over three hundred Resistance activists and refugee Jews at their zoo during WW2 and how I likewise, to the best of my ability, tried to be as precise and truthful as possible when I wrote “Final Drafts,” my series of biographical sketches of writers who committed suicide. Turk then brings up “At Last The Distinguished Thing,” my novel about the death of Henry James, the opening movement of “Symphonie Fantastique,” a collection of four novels each concerning a different haunted, obsessed individual presented under the banner of a single cover. Turk questions the propriety of writing a work of fiction about a real person. I respond that using real persons fictitiously is nothing new and that there is also a long tradition of writers writing novels about other writers. To conclude the broadcast, I read the closing pages of “At Last The Distinguished Thing.” If you would like to know more about my books, please visit my website: See also the Amazon page for “Symphonie Fantastique”: