Do you love the internet? Do you love books? In this episode, we hang with someone who loves both more than anyone you could ever hope to meet, Buzzfeed Books’ managing editor, Isaac Fitzgerald. We talk about his career path from The Rumpus to McSweeney’s and his move across America to New York City and Buzzfeed. We had a great time with Isaac and we know you will have a great time, too. Pop open a cold something and enjoy.
In this episode, we sit down with the wonderful Chelsea Hodson, author of Pity the Animal, which is available in print from Future Tense Books/Scout Books and is now also available as a Kindle Single. We run the gauntlet with Chelsea, talking about her unique voice and her influences and being someone from the desert and the art of omission as a writing tool. Dig in, this one is meaty and lovely.
"The only thing I knew I wanted to do was create a pop record while avoiding the usual pop tropes. I tend to be drawn more towards to polar ends of the, for lack of a better term, rock and roll spectrum…saccharine pop and harsh noise. So, that’s what I wanted to try to amalgamate."
In this episode we have a wonderful talk with poet Mike Bushnell, author of the just-out OHSO, a sprawling and beautiful book of poetry that will infect the heart and consciousness. We rap about performance and how Mike has developed his very unique voice and style and Mike gives us all a taste as he reads from OHSO. If you ever get the chance to see Mike perform, we highly suggest you do so.
Greg Cartwright was, is and ever shall be the eminence grise of garage rock, having guided seemingly innumerable seminal acts, not the least of which include The Oblivians, Parting Gifts, Compulsive Gamblers, 68 Comeback, Deadly Snakes, Detroit Cobras and The Reigning Sound. Shattered, the latest Reigning Sound record and first for Merge, was written in North Carolina, where Cartwright’s lived for a decade, and recorded at Daptone in Brooklyn, where drummer Mikey Post works, but its sound is rooted in the loamy musical soil of Cartwright’s old sod, Memphis. Shattered swings through gritty garage rock, greasy R&B, grainy soul and galloping country — just like the selections in his Listed guest column.
Talking—and characters do a lot of it here—becomes one of the book’s transitional devices, used to show how Josiah, once profound and elegiac in his boyhood speech and mannerisms, is now flippant in some regards, able to view his father’s pious ramblings as insane, as if they were the clear signs of an imminent death. Armageddon, which the Laudermilk family had held in view like a distant, illustrious star, now becomes real, earth-like, as Gill slips deeper and deeper into what Josiah believes is mental illness. Or is it pure, unsullied clarity?
In Episode 11, we spend some time with the relentless and charming D. Foy, author ofMade to Break. We talk about booking your own book tour and all of the things that go into that kind of stew, traversing America by car solo, psychic abilities, and about staying true to your artistic vision irrespective of obstacles.
When Frings had first heard of the concept for the Tower, it had seemed like the height of folly: two buildings—one on each side of the Crosstown—supporting a larger building, twenty-five floors from the ground, that spanned the Crosstown and tapered, pyramid-like, as it rose another twenty-five floors. Atop the structure, a spire rose a hundred feet into the air, ringed at its peak by a circular observation deck. And yet, here it was, the exterior completed, though the interior wasn’t yet ready for occupancy. In his column, Frings had dubbed it “The Colossus of Roads.”
When I finished, I had not worked on a story for five or six years. I did exercises. I started stories that just died, and I didn’t spend much time with them. The last thing I published was in 2007, probably. A story, also, about religious yearning, that takes place in Death Valley. I went back in, and I found myself writing really long stories, which I’d never done before. I wrote two very long, fifty-page stories, which I eventually cut down to a more serviceable twenty-five, twenty-eight pages. And then I felt totally spent, and I found myself revisiting one of my old loves, which is Donald Barthelme. I started writing these weird things that looked nothing like the other stories and nothing like the book. So I’ve got five stories: two that are somewhat traditional and three that are somewhat…off. And hopefully someone likes them, somewhere in the universe.
In Episode 10, we hang/rap/laugh/explore with poet/publisher/all-around good dude Mike Young. Mike runs Magic Helicopter Press and has been an integral part of moving indie publishing/writing from ones and zeros into paper and hands. Mike was in town for a thing and we were so stoked he came and spent an afternoon with us at Mellow Pages. Mike even took a request from Eric and sings us all a song. Mike’s newest book, Sprezzatura, is on the cusp of release from Publishing Genius.
Part of what I like about the stories was the pairing, that balance — in one way, “After the Leaving” is a kind of suburban story, even while being this bigger, more surreal, Bible story. So, then, it became, “how do I segue out of one and into the next one most effectively?” And also asking what each story added to the whole, with a few stories that felt very at home in one of the half-collections getting cut because, here, it felt too similar to something else and didn’t add anything interesting to the mix.
Taylor Jenkins Reid and After I Do, 7/8 "I wanted to explore what happens when a couple approaches the problem of falling out of love in an unconventional way," Taylor Jenkins Reid tells Reeder Reads in an interview.
Vol. 1 Brooklyn and Tim Kinsella…
Our event with Tim Kinsella is happening Thursday at WORD in Greenpoint.
"Something I’m really interested in is disconnection, in relationships and especially between family. A big part of this book is the disconnection between the Walker family. I wanted to concentrate on what characters wanted to say to each other or thought about each other that they would never actually get a chance or let themselves say. Instead of focusing on what breaks the family apart, I wanted to concentrate on what led up to it and the effects on the family. I wanted my characters to be reliving and re-seeing what happened years later, and so for a good deal of the book we’re stuck in the characters’ heads."
In this episode we get to hang with Elissa Schappell–all-around literary powerhouse/rabble rouser, book editor at Vanity Fair, and co-founder/Editor-At-Large of Tin House. We talk about her beginnings as a writer and the path she’s navigated to get to the place she’s at, places she’s lived, as well as how she has managed to overcome some personal issues and be the awesome human being she is today. This is a doozy of an episode, so make yourself a nice cool drink and settle in and enjoy.
"The trip was part of an on-going negotiation I have with independence versus interdependence—how much should I do alone? I didn’t call anyone at home for the three months I was gone and some days I didn’t say much more than a handful of words to a stranger. I wrote an email from a library every once in a while. Most of the time I was just sort of staring off at the horizon, getting weirder."
“What do people mean when they call a novel “Dickensian”? A large cast of vividly drawn characters, some of them grotesques with comically descriptive names and odd tics of speech and behavior; a plucky orphan who overcomes a childhood blighted by humiliating poverty or simple lower-class misery; numerous and ingeniously interconnected subplots; panoramic shifts of location; a narrative that makes the reader finish each chapter eager to begin the next.”—After Great Expectations by Francine Prose | The New York Review of Books
What started as an afternoon project has now grown into something much bigger—a global community of readers, sharing what they love, across both nonfiction and fiction. Along the way we’ve built Longreads into…
“Bookselling made a writer out of me. Before I got a job at a bookstore, I would sometimes poke around the edges of being a creative writer—I wrote little essays for zines my friends published, and I liked to come up with elaborate fake histories for bands I was associated with in college. I liked books and I liked to read. But being a bookseller moved me from a casual to a professional interest in books, so it meant I needed to read a lot more, and a lot of contemporary work. It gave me a sense of the landscape, and where I might fit into it. (And that I actually might fit into it.) It plugged me into the community of writers and readers. And it gave me access to writers who helped me evolve my writing. I learned that creative writing is a discipline that takes time and attention. (And lots of rewriting.) I learned that a voice and an idea are good things, but they aren’y necessarily stories. I spent time finding out the paths other writers took to get where they were, and got advice on how to find my own way.”—We interviewed Matthew Simmons, whose collection Happy Rock is one of the year’s best.
“This sense of surreal cosmic horror is always on my mind. It’s my favorite thing to think about. I think the title is a perfect fusion of my influences and Shannon’s influences. (The Rat House was an old shack on Shannon’s family property that was a big part of her childhood and the image is highly nostalgic for her and representative of childhood and growing up.) I tend to write more fantasy fairy tale lyrics and Shannon tends to write more nostalgic/personal/family lyrics.”—Band Booking: Shannon and the Clams on Cosmic Horror, Serial Killers, and Collage
“My relationship to NASCAR is a mite complicated, as is any Southern expat’s, but it essentially fits the following parameters: 1) I don’t typically much care for its fans, unless they’re related to me — Mort’s an exception. 2) I was raised on a steady diet of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, but when Earnhardt died I was a long way from Calvary Baptist in Charlotte, N.C., and I was mostly amused by the news of the regional, may have even been national, TV coverage his service received (delivered via a fitful, sobbing telephone call from my redneck brother). 3) Chili goes well with it. 4) Beer too.”—Vol. 1 Brooklyn | An Excerpt from Todd Dills’s “Triumph of the Ape”
“It’s probably impossible to explain to young people who weren’t around in the 1980s how central, crucial, and all-encompassing a role MRR played on the punk scene at that time. Without exaggerating too much, I think it would be safe to say that if your band, zine or whatever wasn’t in MRR, it almost didn’t exist. MRR was essentially the clearinghouse for punk rock from round the world, and for the most part, it did a very good job at that. It definitely played a major role in helping Lookout and Gilman attain the positions of prominence that they did.”—Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Stories from Spy Rock: An Interview With Larry Livermore
“Oh and I liked Rachel Kushner’s Flamethrowers, but it does not even begin to be talked about as a “great American novel.” It is a “good” American novel, though I much preferred Francesca Segal’s The Innocents (which is almost great) and Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins which is not quite as almost-great as The Innocents, but well-worth everyone’s time. For the most recent “great” American novels, I’m sorry but I’m sticking with the Jonathans: both Freedom and The Corrections by Franzen and Fortress of Solitude by Lethem.”—Here is the paragraph (via Jason Diamond) that necessitated the coining of the term “Jonathansplaining.” Nice try, ladies, but leave the real Great American Novel-writing to the Jonathans. (via judyxberman)
“At the same time, the rate of its creation intensifies to the same degree its message dilutes. To accommodate this digression, people expect less because they derive less from the work. It’s reached such a point that nothing is satisfying. It’s just a sea of things to sift through. Music itself contains no inherent value; it’s a hollow statement filled in by listeners whose tastes have been decidedly undermined. But this is how we like things — neatly packaged to remind us that what we already have is not enough.”—Vol. 1 Brooklyn | “Discontent is a Great Hobby”: Charles Bronson’s Mark McCoy on Art, Hardcore, and Insularity