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. Read More

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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. Read More

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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. Read More

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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. Read More

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Eric Schlosser (BSS #515)

In the mid-20th century, nuclear missiles were maintained with flimsy safeguards and rapidly failing technology. How close were we to DR. STRANGELOVE? And how safe are we today? We talk with investigative journalist Eric Schlosser, the author of COMMAND AND CONTROL, to discuss our remarkably reckless military history, which culminated in several close disasters, and what this means in an age driven by terrorism and religious fundamentalism. Read More

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Alissa Quart (BSS #514)

In the second of two related programs devoted to the American epidemic of gravitating to mainstream culture in an age of limitless choice, we talk with REPUBLIC OF OUTSIDERS author Alissa Quart about how outsiders and iconoclasts have been appropriated by institutional forces. Why have we shifted to a culture hostile to original voices? Why is it all about being liked? And how does cosplay, transphobia, animal rights, and Mad Pride fit into all this? Read More

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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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