secretlives

Elissa Wald (BSS #528)

What happens when you meet somebody and all of your assumptions proved to be wrong? That’s precisely what happened with this conversation with Elissa Wald, author of THE SECRET LIVES OF MARRIED WOMEN. She’s a novelist who wrote a noir novel without reading any noir and who depicted class violence without being conscious of it. The result is one of the strangest conversations we’ve ever aired, a chat that absolutely fails (which is entirely our fault) before hobbling back to an unanticipated grace.

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Simon Winchester II (BSS #527)

In 2007, we aired an infamous program with Simon Winchester, in which he argued with us over the finer points of local history. His new book, THE MEN WHO UNITED THE STATES, shifts the action to a bigger stage, taking on the entire United States. With greater historical stakes, the affable Englishman returns for a conversational rematch six years later. This program features an affably argumentative and cheerfully divergent chat between two wildly energized men united by the common belief that history is always worth returning to.

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Wendy Lower (BSS #526)

More than seven decades after World War II, we’re still deeply uncomfortable about the idea that women under the Nazi regime committed barbaric acts. We talk with Holocaust scholar (and National Book Award finalist) Wendy Lower about the realities she confronts in her new book, HITLER’S FURIES. How much are the women who were socialized under Nazi policies to blame? Why did the postwar courts allow these women, some of whom massacred children, to return to society without consequence?

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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.

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Eleanor Catton (BSS #524)

What if a 900 page novel incorporated Zeno’s dichotomy paradox, the golden ratio, set its action in 1865 and 1866 while aligning character temperament to astrological signs and planets, and incorporated massive strands of storytelling? Well, THE LUMINARIES does just this. In this wide-ranging 71 minute conversation, we talk with Booker Award-winning novelist Eleanor Catton about the benefits of an overly planned structure, considering reader intentions, Douglas Hofstadter’s GODEL, ESCHER, BACH, how old newspapers reveal history in unique ways, the Otago Gold Rush, mystery novels, Shakespeare, eccentric forms of tax evasion, and the real impact of politics and history on everyday lives.

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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.

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Samira Kawash (BSS #522)

This is the second of two shows devoted to Halloween. Did you know that there was once a chocolate bar called the Chicken Dinner? That cigarette companies once considered candy to be a threat to discretionary spending? Or that candy was used by the military for safety purposes? We didn’t either, until we read Samira Kawash’s CANDY: A CENTURY OF PANIC AND PLEASURE. We discuss the serpentine history of candy with the Candy Professor herself!

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Paul Harding II (BSS #521)

Over the course of a few centuries, prayers for the dead have transformed into less uptight celebrations. But what candor did we lose in the transformation? In the first of two shows devoted to Halloween, we discuss this American relationship to grief and impermanence with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Harding. The talk revolves around Harding’s second novel, ENON, and gets into candlepin bowling, the oneiric morass inside the skull, our national history of religiosity, and John Cheever.

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Nicholson Baker II (BSS #520)

Nicholson Baker returns to our program for a rip-roaring 78 minute conversation. We discuss TRAVELING SPRINKLER, the many parallels between Baker and Paul Chowder. There is quite a bit of music and audio talk, vivacious arguments for and against Robin Thicke, a lively dialectic on whether or not Algebra 2 should be an educational requirement, and a vital discussion on alternative names for sexual organs.

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Kathryn Davis (BSS #519)

Life and narrative both require resolution. But when we stick to our conclusive guns, what do we give up in knowing other people? Kathryn Davis has dared to answer these questions in her provocative new novel, DUPLEX, and our conversation bounces around Leibniz’s notion of the multiverse, the intersection of religion and technology, and how a fluid fictional universe creates new possibilities in life.

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Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell (BSS #518)

THE ROOM is widely considered to be one of the worst films ever made. Yet ten years after its release, it is a cultural phenomenon and has even inspired a video game. We talk with Greg Sestero (Mark from THE ROOM) and Tom Bisssell, co-authors of THE DISASTER ARTIST, and probe into director Tommy Wiseau’s mysterious past. discussing the film’s unanticipated debt to Patricia Highsmith and the terror of shooting extremely long and extremely troubling sex scenes.

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Daniel Woodrell (BSS #517)

In this rare long form interview, acclaimed author Daniel Woodrell discusses how William Kennedy’s novels provided inspiration for THE MAID’S VERSION, Ozark vernacular, what people get wrong about stew, how one can know all of humanity by living in a small town, Tony Danza’s boxing skills, film noir, avoiding tough guy cliches, and his experience as a Marine.

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