Category: Fiction

Kiese Laymon (BSS #513)

In the first of two related programs devoted to the American epidemic of gravitating to mainstream culture in an age of limitless choice, we talk with Kiese Laymon about how his novel, LONG DIVISION, and his essays have responded to this problem. We discuss hip-hop, the rich Mississippi tradition of storytelling, “the worst of white folks,” and why America is terrified of rich and variegated cultural engagement. Read More

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Norman Rush (BSS #512)

In this wide-ranging 70 minute conversation, we talk with acclaimed novelist Norman Rush (author of MATING, MORTALS, and SUBTLE BODIES) about revolution, James Joyce, Botswana, his friendship with Thomas Disch, why his characters are seduced by quacks, and countless other subjects. Read More

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Maggie O’Farrell (BSS #511)

In 1976, Britain faced the greatest water shortage of the 20th century and the feelings are eerily resonant of current climate change. How can fiction make sense of all this? We talk with Costa-winning author Maggie O’Farrell about her latest novel, INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE, discuss how research often springs from personal experience and the idea of the disappearing patriarch, and get into the thorny realities of families. Read More

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Travis Nichols (BSS #510)

How do you sustain a 220 page novel told from the perspective of an online troll leaving an endless blog comment? We discuss the poetics of abuse with Travis Nichols (author of THE MORE YOU IGNORE ME), along with seductive caesuras, family members who disown you by email, and the largely illusory idea of self-declared misunderstood geniuses. Read More

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Mark Slouka (BSS #509)

Mark Slouka avoided historical cliche by looking at 1968 from the vantage point of a small town and tapping into unanticipated emotion. We discuss Slouka’s novel, BREWSTER, whether Sherwood Anderson’s influence can be revived in 2013, and get into the subject of leisure — specifically, its current absence from American life. Read More

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Gabriel Roth (BSS #508)

Gabriel Roth talks with us for an hour about his debut novel, THE UNKNOWNS, San Francisco culture between the two dot com booms, his Bay Guardian days, the unanticipated influences of My Little Pony and brony culture, avoiding the lad lit label, and writing about what you know. Read More

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Matt Bell (BSS #506)

We talk with Matt Bell, author of IN THE HOUSE UPON THE DIRT BETWEEN THE LAKE AND THE WOODS, about how to encourage imagination, James Joyce lookalikes, labryinths in fiction and video games, Nethack, the problems with depicting the quotidian, and how language creates mystery. Read More

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Claire Messud II (BSS #504)

Claire Messud returns to our program to discuss her latest novel, THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS, unlikable characters in fiction, why angry women aren’t featured in fiction, technological impediments, the millennial generation, Shel Silverstein’s songwriting career, James Joyce, and how fiction can be dangerous in a surveillance state. Read More

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Roxana Robinson (BSS #503)

We talk with Roxana Robinson about Sparta, talking and living with veterans, why soldiers don’t have a common experience, self-preservation vs. digital culture, Georgia O’Keeffe, playing tennis in inflatable courts, and how socioeconomic investigation into America’s ills often occurs by accident. Read More

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Lisa Hanawalt (BSS #502)

In this one hour conversation, artist Lisa Hanawalt discusses her collection My Dirty Dumb Eyes, informs us of the appropriate method to neigh like a horses, describes the bizarre business politics she observed at a toy fair, delineates the trappings of pop culture, tells us how to contend with online trolls, and even offers a few sartorial views. During the majority of this conversation, Our Correspondent is licked copiously by Ms. Hanawalt’s extremely friendly dog. Read More

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Lauren Beukes (BSS #501)

We talk with Lauren Beukes, author of THE SHINING GIRLS, about what it takes to find empathy in detestable characters, why fictitious sociopaths tend to be fond of Canadian Club, the benefits of lacerating villains, the proper ways to explain backstory in narrative, being vengeful, parallels between South African and American history, why Beukes sets her American novels in the Midwest, and how research creates ambiance. Read More

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Elliott Holt (BSS #500)

In this one hour conversation, Elliott Holt discusses her debut novel, You Are One of Them, her feelings about The Eagles, Chekhov vs. Dostoevsky, living in Moscow, the baleful babushkas in the swimming pool, whether advertising is an inevitable reality in crumbling nations, and her reluctant feelings about the literary star system. There is also a brief attempt at a Boris and Natasha impersonation. Read More

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