Edward P. Jones (BSS #80)

Edward P. Jones is most recently the author of The Known World.

Play

Author: Edward P. Jones

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Feeling oppressed by MySpace.

Subjects Discussed: Jones’s instinct for precision, specifics, city streets, details within minor characters, family lineage within fiction, Squirrel Nuts, penny candy, handicapped characters, gifted students, avoiding recurrent motifs and repeating stories, characters who appear in Lost in the City and All Aunt Hagar’s Children, selecting historical settings, Washington D.C. as magnetic nexus point, throwing the reader off guard, flash-forwards, mathematical metaphors, how Jones became an English major, double metaphors, having a writing philosophy, violence in fiction, crossword puzzles, making stories read like novels, miracles, and neighborhoods.

EXCERPT FROM SHOW:

JONES: If you have a portrait painted of your family and they’re at the center of the portrait, there’s no use having cartoonish figures in the background. What’s in the background, what’s set aside should be as rich in detail as the family in the foreground right there in the center of the portrait. And I suppose that’s part of it. It’s all a matter of trying to make the reader believe that what he or she is reading is real, actually happened — even though, of course, it all came out of my imagination.

Categories: Fiction

Mark Z. Danielewski (BSS #79)

Mark Z. Danielewski is most recently the author of Only Revolutions.

Play

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Horrified by “misprinted” books.

Author: Mark Z. Danielewski

Subjects Discussed: The origins of Only Revolutions, Hailey’s appearance in House of Leaves, the use of obscure uncanonized words in Only Revolutions (and their various origins), hip-hop, Gene Wolfe, Anthony Burgess, teenagers and vocabulary, how structure affects wordplay, skateboards, the influence of movies, the dots on the right-hand corner, on whether Danielewski is an experimental writer, fonts and typography, leaving room for ambiguity in a taut structure, the urgency in getting Only Revolutions finalized, the leftwrist twist, how the circular symbol came about, and immortality and maturity.

[PLEASE NOTE: The most enthusiastic answer from an author in Bat Segundo history occurs at 32:49.]

EXCERPT FROM SHOW:

Danielewski: I don’t think I’m an experimental writer. I don’t really know what that means, in fact, an experimental writer. For me, it’s always an exploration. I just can’t help but think, you know, when you experiment, you’re kind of tinkering. And this is such a prolonged investigation. You don’t tinker for six years. It’s a long quest to see where something goes. And the thing I really stand by is that I’ve fulfilled the qualities of Sam and Hailey’s journey. Now whether it’s a success or not, it’s clear what it is. It’s not halfly done. It’s wholly, spinningly done. You can either say, I don’t care for it. Or you can recognize, wow, if we go, if we follow this path to its — maybe not its conclusion, but as a long way, this is kind of where it ends up going. And these are the things you get out of it. And these are things you don’t get out of it. And that creates a valid type of conversation.

Categories: Fiction

Richard Dawkins (BSS #78)

Richard Dawkins is most recently the author of The God Delusion.

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Attempting to set up a tequila-faith based organization.

Author: Richard Dawkins

Subjects Discussed: The audience for The God Delusion, comparing an atheistic text to Satan, evolutionary biology and religion, charitable religious-based organizations, Mother Teresa, whether imaginary constructs are a bad thing, living in the real world, the assassination of Harvey Milk, Twinkies, “In God We Trust” and the American zeitgeist, on Dawkins being “a university person” speaking to university crowds, politics and atheism, Stephen Jay Gould and non-overlapping magisteria, language and religion, Marilynne Robinson’s review, logical positivism, love and perception, sexual lust, on deists being fools, the susceptibility of children, the advertising industry vs. religion, Jesus Camp, and extremists vs. everyday religious people.

EXCERPT FROM SHOW:

Correspondent: What of love? You kind of go into this a little bit into the book. For example, speaking personally for myself, I’m madly in love with my girlfriend right now. But could I tell you — is there any sort of rational basis for this? No, not really. Would I do a lot for her? Well, absolutely. I would do all inexplicable sorts of things, that are completely irrational, for her.

Dawkins: Well, I’m delighted to hear that. I wouldn’t call them completely irrational. If you’re asking, how does either of you know that you love the other, then that is rational. I mean, that’s based upon evidence, that’s based upon little looks, smiles, catches in the voice, things you do for each other. That’s all evidence. Just because it’s subtle and complicated doesn’t make it free from evidence. It is evidence based. Of course, it could be wrong. But that’s always true of evidence-based belief.

Play

Categories: Ideas

Sam Savage (BSS #77)

Sam Savage is most recently the author of Firmin.

Play

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Still missing, wondering who this Champion character is.

Guests: Sam Savage and Edward Champion

Subjects Discussed: Having a rat as a protagonist, investigating rats, on being a late starter, poetry, exploring consciousness in fiction, the destruction of Scollay Square, collaborating on the illustrations, sentimental first-person narrators, physical signs in Firmin, language, resorting to fiction for meaning, abnormal sexual desires between rats and women, phrenological models, tunnels and reading, gentrification, Savage’s background in philosophy, genuine feeling vs. sentimentality, Hallmark cards, misfits, booksellers, William Gaddis, Gilbert Sorrentino, Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” cultural attrition, and letting go of materialistic impulses.

(A co-production of the LBC, Pinky’s Paperhaus, and The Bat Segundo Show)

EXCERPT FROM SHOW:

Savage: Since he doesn’t have language — that is, language is ultimately the longed for object even more than the Lovelies would be. Words and language. These words appear as objects, as things in themselves. FICTION. RESTROOM. He sees these and they stand out. Because this is language and this is what he doesn’t have. And he also sees himself. Not only sees signs, but he gives titles to his actions. You know, you put in these phrases, which are in fact titles of books, in which he’s thinking — in which he is the character. So he is always seeing himself as a protagonist as some story, because what Firmin wants most of all is to be in the story. And of course I gave him that in the end. But he didn’t know that.

Categories: Fiction

Scott Smith (BSS #76)

Scott Smith is most recently the author of The Ruins.

Play

Author: Scott Smith

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Still missing, replaced temporarily by a windbag.

Subjects Discussed: The addictive nature of The Ruins, insecurity, writing without an outline, making a seemingly preposterous premise believable, Rupert Thomson, on taking things too far, how deadlines help, aborted 1,000 page novels, Michael Moorcock, inserting objects into a narrative, how genre assists in the writing process, archetypal characters, 80s sex comedies, unintentional themes, the international perspective, Stephen King, relying upon the Internet for research, Michiko Kakutani, writing a book without chapter breaks, gore in fiction, the Ruins film adaptation, and working with Sam Raimi.

EXCERPT FROM SHOW:

Smith: There’s a lot to A Simple Plan where people thought there were larger themes attached to it. I don’t write that way. I wouldn’t even know how to go about writing that way. I think that probably there are sentiments that probably are just culturally out there, that get sucked into the writing. Someone said [The Ruins] is a metaphor for the Iraq war, you know, Americans going hubristically out and not knowing the language or the culture and getting into this hellish place. Which sounds great! I wish I thought of that.

Categories: Fiction

George Ilsley & Matt Cheney (BSS #75)

George Ilsley is most recently the author of ManBug.

Play

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Avoidant of infestations.

Guests: Matt Cheney and George Ilsley

Subjects Discussed: The “arc” of the LBC, small presses, Kinsey, entomological inspiration, language play, relationships, Dan Savage, Queer as Folk, Brokeback Mountain, unexpected audiences, unreliable narrators, insect collections, gall wasps, bed bugs, unique interpretations of Manbug, synesthesia, basing the book’s structure on an evolution of consciousness, Buddhism, sex scenes, footnotes, the correct pronunciation of smriti, and learning through bugs.

(A co-production of the LBC, Pinky’s Paperhaus, and The Bat Segundo Show)

EXCERPT FROM SHOW:

Ilsley: Well, I don’t really declare he has Asperger’s. It’s suggested that maybe he has it. This is an explanation for why he has it. And my point there was that we’re all on this spectrum of behavior. And so maybe he has it. So I really didn’t try to clinically approach it as if he had it. But I did try to approach it as he had difficulty understanding the world. And then most of the book is Sebastian trying to understand the world, repeating what he’s learned. This is his research project. I was inspired by Kinsey.

Categories: Fiction