What’s your dream car? It’s an innocent question, but as the character in Lyra Halprin’s “Drive, She Said,” explores, it can pack surprising meaning. We can’t wait to produce Lyra’s piece tomorrow night at San Jose’s St. James Park for our Words&Music show.
Lyra is a Davis, Calif. writer whose commentaries have aired on NPR, Capital Public Radio, and KQED San Francisco, and appeared in newspapers, magazines and online venues. A former newspaper, television and radio reporter, she worked for more than 20 years as a public information officer for the University of California sustainable agriculture programs. She enjoys writing about growing up in California in the 1950s and ‘60s, family, fresh food, and access to healthcare.
Sequoia in the Storm, California Northern
Tinge of Pink, Sacramento News & Review
The Nativity and the Trailer, Santa Monica Daily Press
I’m working on a collection of memoir stories.
What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?
Sometimes I’ve enjoyed the audiobook version of a book more than reading it because actors can take the words to another dimension. Twenty years ago I was thrilled to hear my own written words make that shift when someone else read them aloud. I look forward to hearing that again!
Which writers or performers inspire you?
I appreciate writers who can teach me something as well as entertain, often historical fiction: Andrea Barrett, whose fiction about women in science leave me thinking (her short story collection Servants of the Map is my favorite); Mario Zusak’s The Book Thief combines a gripping, loving story with important history; Sherman Alexie, who brings “life on the res” alive in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian; Chris Bojalian, who taught me about the Armenian genocide with grace in Sandcastle Girls; Anthony Marra, whose A Constellation of Vital Phenomena pulled me into a time and place I didn’t know I needed and wanted to understand; Zoe Ferraris, who introduced me to the hidden life of women in the Arab world through an unlikely female heroine – a Saudi Arabian morgue assistant (Finding Nouf), and Kristiana Kahakauwila, whose stories about Hawaii forever changed the way I feel about the island (This is Paradise). Two non-fiction writers skillfully introduced me to their lives: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in My Beloved World, and Anne Lamott in Operating Instructions.
Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.
Each year there are books that knock me to the wall with their beauty and meaning (above). Seeing the Broadway production of Rent reinforced my belief that the arts are our key to making change.