The Bat Segundo Show: Christian Bauman

Christian Bauman appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #215. Bauman is most recently the author of In Hoboken.

Condition of the Show: Contending with contentious Midtown diners.

Author: Christian Bauman

Subjects Discussed: Defining a rock and roll novel, writing an ensemble novel with Hoboken as a character, references to paper storms and 9/11, chronological foreshadowing, using real-life Hoboken locations vs. invented locations, the Hoboken-New York rivalry, playing the rube vs. genuine sincerity as a reflection of irony in the 1990s, balancing real-life incidents and invented narrative, the benefits of vaguely knowing someone, whether or not a particular city is important to a narrative, writing about the worker hierarchy, writing about characters who live cheaply, socioeconomics in literature, locative contexts that make novels different, trying not to anticipate the next novel, songwriting phrases, reconfiguring essays and other pieces into a novel, and the modified omniscient voice.

EXCERPT FROM SHOW:

Correspondent: You have this particular rock ‘n’ roll novel dwelling upon Hoboken, as well as Mona Smith, who is this Erica Jong-like figure, who is the mother of Thatcher. But I wanted to ask you about this. Because it’s very fascinating to me. I have the belief that if you write a rock ‘n’ roll novel, there needs to be some additional element. Some additional hook. Because if you dwell too much on rock ‘n’ roll music, well, it’s going to possibly be something of a circlejerk. So I wanted to ask you. Was this a consideration in setting this book in Hoboken? The Hoboken aspect came first? What happened here?

Bauman: Yeah, I think the Hoboken aspect came first. Well, first of all, I should point out that everyone keeps calling it a rock ‘n’ roll novel. It is actually a folk novel. So we should just be clear here. There’s a lot more Woody Guthrie here than anything else. But it’s a good point. You know, the whole thing I wanted to do, in as far as I wanted to anything and it didn’t just happen the way it happened — I was trying very hard this time to do two things. One was to write about a place. A very specific place to the point where the place became one of the characters in the book. And of those places where I’ve either lived or been alive in my life, Hoboken was one of them that stood out as a good place to go. And the other one was that I really wanted to try and write an ensemble novel to the best of my ability. And I kind of failed in that aspect.

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Nine New Segundo Shows

This week, nine new installments of The Bat Segundo Show were released from the factory. I’ll be cross-posting the full capsules here at Reluctant Habits (the new preposterous name of this place) as soon as I find some time to complete them. (Books are now migrating their way to the new location, and this has been keeping me busy.) But for those who wish to plunge into the conversations right now, here’s a list of recent shows:

206. Sarah Hall. Hall, the recent winner of the James Tiptree Award, is an extraordinary writer. I’ve written a piece on all three of her books that will be appearing at another place. But in the meantime, you can listen to the nearly 70 minute conversation we conducted on her work as a whole. We carried out despite fire alarms and some lively debate.

207. David Hajdu. Hajdu is the author of The Ten-Cent Plague, but this conversation touches largely upon much of the journalistic methods he used in tracking down some of his subjects.

208. Tobias Wolff. This conversation has been excerpted elsewhere. Wolff was guarded, but he gradually warmed up as the conversation progressed, offering some interesting insights into how he puts together a short story.

209. Sloane Crosley. Ms. Crosley is regrettably known more for her shiny hair than her essays. Hopefully, this discussion will rectify this impression.

210. Cynthia Ozick. I was greatly honored to talk with the wonderful Ms. Ozick, winner of two recent lifetime achievement awards, a few days before her eightieth birthday.

211. Ed Park! Ed Park has written a very good debut novel. I had so many observations about his book that I had to cram into our conversation that we ended up talking for more than an hour.

212. Fiona Maazel. Despite the intrusive presence of a coffee grinder, Fiona and I managed to talk more or less intelligibly about Last, Last Chance.

213. Steven Greenhouse. I reviewed Greenhouse’s The Big Squeeze for the B&N Review last week. This conversation reflects some of my observations and delves into very important labor issues.

214. Ralph Bakshi. One of my most anarchic interviews, but in a very good way. If you aren’t aware of Bakshi’s accomplishments in underground animation (Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, Coonskin), you’ll want to give this a listen.

215. Christian Bauman. We were ejected from a Midtown diner midway through our conversation, but this didn’t stop Mr. Bauman and I from discussing In Hoboken, which Mr. Bauman assures me is a “folk novel” and not a “rock ‘n’ roll novel.”

216. Mort Walker. The creator of Beetle Bailey reveals a number of unexpected attitudes about war and women.