Laila Lalami (BSS #11)

[PRODUCER'S NOTE: Jorge was unavailable this week. So we were forced to enlist a man who claimed to have performed voiceover work for the 1970s incarnation of Battlestar Galactica to precede Mr. Segundo. Efforts are being made to coax Jorge back to the program, but it's a little complicated. Mr. Segundo explains the problem in full.]

Authors: Laila Lalami, Scott Esposito, Beth Wadell and Tito Perez.

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Not the brightest pervert in the daisy chain, but surprisingly alcohol-free in light of the Jorge contretemps.

Subjects Discussed: Laila’s poverty fiction essay, her book list for Large Hearted Boy, chance vs. choice, John Steinbeck, reference points for North American audiences, writing in English, fiction which operates beyond culture, When Men Cry, the immigration situation in Morocco, Dirty Pretty Things, how to make cultural fiction to the publishing industry salable, subcultures neglected by the publishing industry, sympathizing with characters, cultural perceptions, how men hug, narrative perspective, taboos, a mysterious friend, Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, sasquatch, litblogging, unexpectedly meeting people, the current state of book review coverage, how much people read, the LBC, William T. Vollmann, being inundated by galleys, guilt, “unfair advantages,” the influence of Moorish Girl upon awareness of Hope, the origins of Laila’s blog, politics, the influence of litblogs, literature as one big party, a brash and quite silly claim involving a superhero, restoring literature’s place in American culture, Pablo Neruda, city-based book programs, the Oprah Book Club, advertising, Gus Lee, a brief but more sustained Q&A about sasquatch, what Laila’s working on now, and what it’s like to be an author on tour.

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Categories: Fiction

T.C. Boyle (BSS #10)

Author: T.C. Boyle

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Terse, conserving energies for a drink.

Subjects Discussed: Boyle as one of the original bloggaz, how Boyle arranges his short stories for his collections, John Cheever, how Boyle got into the New Yorker, the current state of the short story market, the future of literature, country music, historical fiction vs. contemporary fiction, the comparisons between “The Doubtfulness of Water” and Water Music, Boyle’s working methods and the “continuous first draft,” the frequency of watering holes in Boyle’s stories, community at T.C. Boyle websites, details on Talk Talk, the influence of history upon fiction, how The Human Fly came to be, political subtext, The Bonehunters’ Revenge by David Rains Wallace, observing people and balancing time, the ethics of creating characters based on people, on being prolific, the T.C. Boyle website, the media perception of literature, the New York Times Book Review (Chip McGrath vs. Sam Tanenhaus), the influence of book reviews on writing, reevaluating writers generations later, The Inner Circle vs. Bill Condon’s Kinsey, Boyle’s “continuous first draft” before computers, technology’s influence upon culture and writing, the spoken and visual dimensions of fiction, on being a “nutball perfectionist,” and the joys of the word “ventricose.”

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Categories: Fiction

Laura Joplin (BSS #9)

Author: Laura Joplin

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Fresh from an unexpected vacation, feeling unloved.

Subjects Discussed: Remembering Janis Joplin years later, unexpected letters from Janis, Laura Joplin’s bio vs. Myra Friedman’s bio, growing up in the Joplin household, Janis’ literary interests, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Dick Cavett, clarifying the heroin overdose, the qualifications of biography writing, Janis cinematic biopics, Seth Morgan, whether today’s world needs a Janis figure, the use of “Mercedes Benz” in a Benz commercial.

[NOTE: The majority of this interview was conducted as a coffee grinder whirred in the background. The barista operating the grinder, despite seeing our microphones and our distinguished interview subject, would not turn it off and was inflexible to charisma. He would not even accept a substantial bribe. (Some baristas, it seems, are inexorable.) We have done our best to preserve the audio and have eliminated most of it. But the audio, as a result, is slightly distorted.]

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Categories: People