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HPPR Radio Readers Book Club

The HPPR Radio Readers Book Club is an on-air, on-line community of readers exploring themes of interest to those who live and work on the High Plains.

It’s time for our 2021 Fall Read Rivers – Meandering Meaning.

Rivers on the High Plains are so diverse that their forms range from subterranean to those that flash flood. Given the fact that one of the most prevalent symbols represented by rivers is that of life as it flows, the differences in a river’s form may have a deep impact on the human experience on the plains. They connect. They form boundaries. They span the past and the present, birth at headwaters and death or transformation at the ocean.

The series will begin with Max McCoy’s Elevations, an account of a 742 mil trip on the Arkansas River from its headwaters near the Continental Divide to Arkansas City, just above the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Part adventure and part reflection, this account of the journey takes us on the river and off its bank, through daily challenges to challenges of the past.

In Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” we’ll hear Huck Finn describing being on a “big still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed, only a little kind of a low chuckle.”

And finally, with Francisco Cantú’s The Line Becomes a River, we not only learn of the author’s struggle to understand the river that forms the southern border crossing of the U.S., but also the river of humanity who say, “They can take my money, they can rob my family, they can lock me away, but I will keep coming back. I will keep crossing, again and again, until I make it, until I am together again with my family.”

Scroll down to find a full book list, to meet some of the contributors and to read or listen (Just click on the title for the audio file.) Radio Readers BookBytes.

If you’re interested in joining the Radio Readers Steering Committee, serving as a future book leader or contributing a Radio Readers BookByte, simply contact Kathleen Holt at kholt@hppr.org

Become an HPPR Radio Reader today! Click here to join the Book Club—and stay informed by liking our Facebook page! To download materials from previous seasons of the Book Club please scroll back through the listings.

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HPPR Radio Readers Book Club is made possible in part by a generous contributions from Radio Readers Lon Frahm of Colby, Lynne Hewes of Cimarron, and Lynn Boitano, formerly of Garden City, Kansas. Please join us in thanking them for their support!

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Latest Episodes
  • Hi, I am Marco Macias, a history teacher here at Fort Hays State University. Thank you for tuning in, and welcome to a BookByte of The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border, a fascinating narrative from Francisco Cantu. In the book, he describes his experiences growing up on the border and then pursuing a career in border patrol for several years. Traversing through the desert, he learns to understand the inhumanity of forcing immigrants across the desert and returns to civilian life.
  • I’m Mike Strong from Hays for HPPR, Radio Reader’s Book Club. The book is “The Line Becomes a River” by Francisco CantuNot since World War II have refugee numbers been so high. 82.4 million people. These people did not leave their homes and jobs and lives by choice or whim. They are fleeing for their lives, even more so than their livelihoods.
  • This is Nicole English coming to you from the Sociology Department at Fort Hays State University for HPPR's Book-Bytes. This is a discussion of the book, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border, by Francisco Cantú.This 2018 book gives a very unabashed view of what working as a Border Agent along the Mexican Border is like, and the experiences the author relates to readers illustrate his own moral struggles with the work. The author, Francisco Cantú, is a child of Mexican immigrants, and draws upon his personal experiences as a border agent for four years in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, to create a touching and emotionally trying memoire.
  • Hi, I am Marco Macias, a history teacher here at Fort Hays State University. Thank you for tuning in, and welcome to a BookByte of The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border, a fascinating narrative from Francisco Cantu.
  • This is Leslie VonHolten traveling through the High Plains of Kansas, with another HPPR Radio Readers Book Byte.The books we have read so far for our rivers series have explored history and terrain, with the river serving as the path of travel. For Max McCoy’s Elevations, the travel was a deeper understanding of place and self. For Mark Twain, Huck Finn, and Jim, the river represented freedom—freedom from the past, both personal and as a nation desperately in need of moral change.But Francisco Cantu’s memoir, The Line Becomes a River, complicates the role of the river. This time it is the Rio Grande, the highly politicized demarcation between Mexico and the United States.
  • Greta: Hello. Can you tell me about how you came to Dodge City and why you are here?Maria: I came here because I love this country. I came here to see my sister. I was in Mexico and I came crossing the river. The Rio Bravo. It was dangerous. It was hard. But I came here because the life is better than my country. This is a blessed country. I love this country.
  • Hi, I am Marco Macias, a history teacher here at Fort Hays State University. Thank you for tuning in, and welcome to a BookByte of The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border, a fascinating narrative from Francisco Cantu. In the book, he describes his experiences growing up on the border and then pursuing a career in border patrol for several years. Traversing through the desert, he learns to understand the inhumanity of forcing immigrants across the desert and returns to civilian life. Afterward, he discovers the particularities of family separation as an undocumented friend visits his dying mother and can’t come back after decades of living in the United States.
  • Thank you for joining us on the High Plains Public Radio Station. My name is Jessica Sadler and I am a Science Teacher and STEAM facilitator in Olathe, Kansas. I am here with the other book leaders to discuss Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. This piece of classic literature explores the entrapments and desires for freedom that many people still experience today in various ways.
  • This is Nicole English coming to you from the Sociology Department at Fort Hays State University for HPPR's Book-Bytes....This is a discussion of the book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, as a picaresque novel (or novela picaresca).
  • Hello, Radio Readers! I’m Jane Holwerda from Dodge City, KS. Welcome to more conversations about “Rivers and Meandering Meanings,” as we wrap up Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, that 19th century American novel set on and around the Mississippi River.The final chapters play out a complicated plan devised by Tom Sawyer to help Huck Finn steal Jim back. That Tom Sawyer becomes an agent of change in this novel seems a puzzling plot device. But it is a device in keeping with Twain’s parody of the novels of French author Alexander Dumas, like The Count of Monte Cristo and The Man in the Iron Mask.