Tag: literature

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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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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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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Dave Itzkoff and Translated Literature: Mad as Hell (BSS #536)

This one hour program looks into two “mad as hell” scenarios. We talk with journalist Dave Itzkoff about MAD AS HELL, the making of NETWORK, Paddy Chayefsky’s colorful personality, and why something that seemed so absurd forty years ago became so real. We also investigate a controversy at Open Letter Books which may reveal an emerging ecosystem of smaller publishers being abused by agents on the make. That segment features Open Letter’s publisher Chad Post, Scott Esposito, and Michael Orthofer. Read More

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Sarah Churchwell (BSS #535)

Nearly ninety years after its publication, THE GREAT GATSBY remains a fluid and endurable masterpiece. In CARELESS PEOPLE, Sarah Churchwell tackles F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great novel with an approach somewhere between an avid reader and a obsessive scholar. This vivacious and jampacked conversation, which covers everything from old menus to famous murders to the interplay between Scott and Zelda, reveals that GATSBY is so rich that just about any literary interpretation is possible. Read More

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Diane Johnson (BSS #533)

Diane Johnson is best known for her comic novels centered around France: LE MARIAGE and LE DIVORCE. But before all this, many years before, she wrote a darker novel called THE SHADOW KNOWS that attracted Stanley Kubrick’s notice. Johnson has published a new memoir, FLYOVER LIVES, that details her thoughts on her ancestors, growing up in the Midwest, her life, and her work. Our vivacious and variegated chat gets into the current state of Franco-American relations, forgotten writers, the Methodist practice of being frightened into being good, America’s migratory impulse, the demise of the American rail system, foodies, California history, and the considerable references and ideas that Johnson and Kubrick consulted for their work on THE SHINING. Read More

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Alissa Nutting (BSS #529)

Alissa Nutting’s TAMPA was one of the most controversial books of 2013. It is also one of the best books of the year. In this bold and variegated 76 minute conversation, we reveal how Celeste Price was created, the torment it brought Nutting in life and after publication, and why America remains needlessly hostile to fictitious viewpoints which dare to reveal the truth about human aberration. Read More

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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. Read More

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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. Read More

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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. Read More

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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. 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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