Tag: interview

Merritt Tierce (BSS #551)

There are 2.4 million waiters and waitresses now working in America. Why have our narratives failed to confront the realities of working in a restaurant? Merritt Pierce, author of LOVE ME BACK, joins us to discuss working-class narratives, the male gaze, abortion, and women as second-class citizens. This show also includes a strong critique of 2 BROKE GIRLS and one of the most startling on-air gaffes in Bat Segundo’s history. Read More

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The Cultural Redemption of Stefan Zweig: Anthea Bell and George Prochnik (BSS #550)

This special two hour episode of The Bat Segundo Show details the life and work of Stefan Zweig in considerable detail. It may be the most epic radio program ever devoted to Stefan Zweig. It includes interviews with translator Anthea Bell and George Prochnik, author of THE IMPOSSIBLE EXILE. Read More

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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.
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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. Read More

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Paula Bomer III (BSS #546)

Author Paula Bomer has dedicated her fiction career to staring inside the abyss and seeking the human. We discuss her new short story collection, INSIDE MADELEINE, and discuss everything from Flannery O’Connor’s notion of the grotesque, how sex defines relationships, boarding schools, how modest surrealism can reveal urban identity, and scatological moments in high literature. (The episode’s introduction includes some thoughts on the recent passing of Maya Angelou.) Read More

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Porochista Khakpour II (BSS #545)

In this wide-ranging 79 minute conversation, Porochista Khakpour discusses how she fused the romantic with the grotesque for her second novel, THE LAST ILLUSION, birds as an inevitable cultural symbol, growing up as an Iranian immigrant, quirky and pragmatic attitudes to death, Kafka and Kierkegaard, and academics who misinterpret authenticity, Read More

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Nikil Saval (BSS #544)

Was there ever an age in which the office provided reasonable security for the worker? Is it possible for the office worker to be given respect and adequate compensation in the 21st century? We talk with Nikil Saval, author of CUBED, to figure out how a system designed to pit office workers against each other went wrong. It turns out that misguided philosophy, austere architectural developments, and a carefully manufactured belief culture against organized labor are all part of a very complicated narrative we all take for granted. Read More

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Evie Wyld (BSS #543)

Evie Wyld is the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize-winning and Granta 20 author of ALL THE BIRDS, SINGING — a novel that is arguably more alive than most of the dull literary books about flatware and chalices at pretentious dinner parties. Our conversation gets into how work defines even the natural landscape, the relationship between insects and humans, and why kangaroos are quite dangerous. Read More

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Yiyun Li II (BSS #542)

In this vivacious chat with MacArthur fellow Yiyun Li (and on the occasion of her latest novel KINDER THAN SOLITUDE), we discuss nothing less than the mysteries that humans impose upon the universe, Li’s secret life as an accordion player, why poison is the most passive-aggressive murder technique, how Americans are exacting more care in discussing the uncomfortable, and how storytelling can encourage people to talk about the truth. Read More

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Ben Tarnoff (BSS #541)

More than a century after his death, Mark Twain is often portrayed as a jolly and avuncular figure. Yet the truth is that Twain was a savage wit and an incendiary figure, and it took this free-spirited iconoclasm to push expression forward. We talk with Ben Tarnoff, author of THE BOHEMIANS, to discuss how California writers (including Twain, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, and Ina Coolbrith) defied the East and reinvented American literature during the 1860s. Read More

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Dinaw Mengestu (BSS #539)

MacArthur Fellow Dinaw Mengestu’s novels have been needlessly categorized as “immigrant fiction” when his work is about so much more. On the publication of his third novel, ALL OUR NAMES, Mengestu unpacks these issues with us, discussing how journalism helped him to peer into revolutionary turmoil, writing about quiet African immigrants, the American perspectives that are often overlooked, the depths of emotional trauma, and contemporary fiction’s relationship with the postcolonial. Read More

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Dorthe Nors, Save NYPL, and Blake Bailey (BSS #538)

In this triple-decker edition of Bat Segundo, we talk with author Dorthe Nors about Denmark, emotional connections to animals, the dangers of self-destruction and how folks songs fused with Swedish existentialism can produce an original voice, investigate Mayor Bill de Blasio’s silence on saving New York libraries and report on a protest, and talk with Blake Bailey about switching from literary biography to memoir. Read More

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