Amanda Vaill (BSS #549)

Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway headed to Spain to help the Loyalists during the Civil War. Gellhorn was to transform into one of the 20th century’s best war correspondents. Hemingway needed to have his romanticism crushed to write a masterpiece. They are two figures in Amanda Vaill’s HOTEL FLORIDA. This conversation examines how the Civil War changed not only the trajectory of Spain, but the future of world culture.


Mimi Pond (BSS #548)

Cartoonist Mimi Pond spent a good chunk of 1978 working as a dishwasher and a waitress in an Oakland diner. Thirty-six years later, she’s collected her experiences in the graphic novel, OVER EASY. This 40 minute conversation examines that experience, looking into the difficulties of accurately portraying that era in a politically correct age and how a crisp glimpse into working-class life is generally more reliable than nostalgia.


Joanna Rakoff (BSS #547)

Joanna Rakoff spent 1996 working as an assistant for Harold Ober Associates, overhearing the likes of J.D. Salinger and Judy Blume talking shop. This 75 minute conversation, which discusses Rakoff’s memoir MY SALINGER YEAR, gets into some of the underlying privilege and protective family dynamics which led Rakoff to get a later start as an adult.


Terry Teachout II (BSS #525)

Duke Ellington was a composer who ranked alongside George Gershwin, influencing everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Thelonious Monk. We talk with biographer Terry Teachout about Duke’s legacy, his sexiness, his philandering, his politics, the way in which he exploited poor Billy Strayhorn, and his indelible hold on American music.


J. Michael Lennon (BSS #523)

It’s easy to dog on Norman Mailer for his indiscretions, which include stabbing his wife and Jack Henry Abbott. But he was also one of the most fiercely impetuous, wildly original, and unapologetically emotional writers the 20th century has ever known. We talk with Mailer’s biographer, J. Michael Lennon, to discuss the conflicts and contradictions within Mailer’s legacy.


Jesmyn Ward II (BSS #516)

In the aftermath of Trayvon Martin, why do so many young black men continue to die? Why are we doomed to repeat a savage American cycle? Jesmyn Ward’s new memoir, MEN WE REAPED, tries to answer this dilemma by looking into how five needless deaths, including her own brother;s, informed her own life. Our 40 minute conversation looks into how stories can get people to care, enduring racism, defending yourself, and why mediocre white culture keeps getting a pass.


Anchee Min (BSS #507)

Anchee Min toiled in Chinese labor camps, was punished and labeled as an outcast, and escaped to America. This one hour conversation covers how she overcame hardships, stared down loneliness, found solace in Michael Jackson, worked five jobs, and made it as a bestselling novelist.

Periel Aschenbrand

Periel Aschenbrand II (BSS #505)

We talk with Periel Aschenbrand, one of Bat Segundo’s very first guests, for the first time in eight years, to discuss her latest memoir, ON MY KNEES, thank you notes, being introduced to Philip Roth as a “great writer,” judging other people, demonizing relatives in a book, and dental hygienists who may have killed their spouses.


Benjamin Anastas (BSS #495)

Benjamin Anastas is most recently the author of Too Good to Be True. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Wrestling with failure. Author: Benjamin Anastas Subjects Discussed: Memoirs devoted to literary failure, Paul Auster’s Hand to Mouth, Tom Grimes’s Mentor, being inspired by Notes from Underground, measuring life through the medium of writing, seeking existential symmetry through Read More


Sara Benincasa (BSS #436)

Sara Benincasa is most recently the author of Agorafabulous. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Wondering whether or not he has actually left the house. Author: Sara Benincasa Subjects Discussed: How to get out of bed and leave the house, the unanticipated benefits of contextual noise, overstuffed schedules, voices inside one’s head, the picaresque existence, commitments and Read More


Stephen Fry (BSS #432)

Stephen Fry is most recently the author of The Fry Chronicles. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Basking in a pleasant tsunami of erudition. Author: Stephen Fry Subjects Discussed: Journalists who attack morally and spiritually, capitulating an iPhone, the number of gadgets that Fry carries on him, physical books vs. ebooks, high school physics lessons and vacillating Read More


Weird Al Yankovic (BSS #418)

Weird Al Yankovic’s most recent album is Alpocalypse. Many thanks to Jay Levey for helping to make this unlikely conversation happen. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Got skills, he’s a champion of D&D. Guest: Weird Al Yankovic Subjects Discussed: Whether most people in the world are doing okay, Weird Al’s longevity, a fastidious concern for the Read More

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