Daily Distraction: Hang out virtually with Helen Cullen, Maggie Smith and Nada Surf

Joel Oliphint
Maggie Smith at home with her dog, Phoebe

In a pull quote on the cover of author Helen Cullen's new book, The Dazzling Truth, poet Maggie Smith describes the novel as "a love letter to family and to the arts," which are also aspects of the human existence that Smith deftly covers in her own writing.

So the conversational ground should be quite fertile between these two when they meet today at 2 p.m. for a virtual conversation centered around The Dazzling Truth (register here), which the publisher describes as "a moving Irish family saga about a mother struggling to find herself and the family that must find solace in each other."

To top it off, Nada Surf's Matthew Caws will also perform near the end of the conversation. Smith apparently shares my love of this long-running-yet-overlooked band that boasts a giant catalog of hook-laden songs that tend to hit home more than ever these days. Here's one of them, below, from Nada Surf's latest album, Never Not Together.