Jim McKeown

Host, Likely Stories

Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.  

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Students at a prestigious academy come under the influence of a charismatic professor

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

One of my earliest of my obsessions with an individual writer was Ann Beattie.  Two things about her drew me to her works.  The first was the fact she had published—simultaneously—a collection of short stories and a novel.  The novel was Chilly Scenes of Winter and the short story collection was Distortions.  She has now written twenty-one magnificent works, including her latest novel, A Wonderful Stroke of Luck.  Her collections of short stories will provide a reader with a treasure trove of American short fiction.

Eerie story of a woman searching for clues to her husband’s intentions.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

An eerie coincidence led me to Mamta Chaudhry’s novel, Haunting Paris.  As I read, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned in a horrible conflagration.  I have traveled to Paris a number of times, and the cathedral on the river Seine was always an important stop.  Chaudhry’s fiction, poetry, and feature articles have been published widely.  Much of her professional career has taken her from Calcutta to Miami, to Dallas.  She currently lives with her husband in Coral Gables, Florida, and they spend part of each year in India and France.  Haunting Paris is her first novel.

Story of a couple in England who face the unravelling of their marriage.

I'm Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

I always look forward to reading the first novel of a new, young writer.  Hellen Cullen wrote her debut novel while in an English novel writing program.  She has an MA in theater studies from the University College Dublin.  She also has a journalism and broadcasting background.  Born in Ireland, she currently lives in London. (more)

Another amazing adventure with surprises, treachery, and suspense by Peter Heller

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Peter Heller is a relatively new writer, and The River is his fourth novel.  Of the three I have read, I thoroughly enjoyed the suspense and the thrills.  Peter Heller has an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in poetry and fiction.  He lives in Denver Colorado.

Jack and Wynn are college buddies who decided to take a canoe trip through parts of Canada.  They are skilled at navigating white-water, and they have all the equipment they need.  Early in the trip, they smell smoke, but it does not seem close enough to pose a threat.  They encounter two men who are armed, and the boys warned them of the fire.  (more)

A tangled story of two families, intertwined by divorce and marriage

I'm Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Numerous individuals have urged me to read something by Ann Patchett.  But I could not uncover some special character or an interesting idea to grab onto.  I decided to forgo my Rule of 50 as a test of the efficacy of that rule.  Commonwealth is Patchett’s tenth novel.  According to the dust jacket, Ann Patchett has authored nine novels and three works of non-fiction. She was the editor of The Best American Short Stories: 2006.  She has won numerous awards, notably the PEN/Faulkner and the Orange Prize for Fiction.  She has been translated into more than 30 languages.  She co-owns Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their dog, Sparky.

The story comprises three parts: the first is the intro duction to two families and a half dozen children.  Part Two mixes all these individuals.  Finally, the last is an extensive examination of these people as the family fragments and falls apart.  I had a difficult time keeping the family’s names and relations straight.  I began to understand the makeup of the family just as Part Three re-tangled them all together.  (more)

A story of Korean women who dive in dangerous waters to gather food

A few years ago, our book club read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.  That novel told a story of the horrific practice of “foot-binding.” Several others followed along similar lines. (more)

Exhaustive tour through the libraries in the Ancient world from Gilgamesh to the Romans


Mystical story of a young girl obsessed with finding out about her father


Novel by one of the great writers of the 20th century


Heartfelt novella of a man dealing with his conscience


Exciting story of a white child kidnapped by the Kiowa tribe.


Sweeping novel of the new world open to explorers trying to make a fortune in timber.


Hilarious story of a real live curmudgeon who enjoys annoying his neighbors.


Interesting novel by the great African-American poet, Langston Hughes.


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