Paraphrase is a podcast all about literary beginnings, from the first words in novel to the first steps in a career. Host Stephen Fishbach asks novelists to discuss the craft and thematic decisions behind the beginnings of their books.
Teddy Wayne on 'Apartment'
Teddy Wayne joins me to discuss his novel 'Apartment.'
In 1996, the unnamed narrator of Teddy Wayne’s Apartment is attending the MFA writing program at Columbia and living in an illegal sublet of a rent-stabilized apartment. Feeling guilty about his good fortune, he offers his spare bedroom--rent-free--to Billy, a talented, charismatic classmate. The narrator’s rapport with Billy develops into the friendship he’s never had. But their living arrangement breeds tensions neither man could predict.
Carmen Maria Machado on 'In the Dream House'
Carmen Maria Machado joins me to discuss her memoir 'In the Dream House.'
'In the Dream House' is Machado’s wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope―the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman―through which Machado holds past events up to the light.
Ryan Chapman on 'Riots I Have Known'
Ryan Chapman joins me to discuss his debut novel 'Riots I Have Known.'
An unnamed Sri Lankan inmate has barricaded himself inside a prison computer lab in Dutchess County, New York. A riot rages outside, incited by a poem published in The Holding Pen, the house literary journal. This, our narrator’s final Editor’s Letter, is his confession. An official accounting of events, as they happened.
Namwali Serpell on 'The Old Drift'
1904. On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from Victoria Falls, there is a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. In a smoky room at the hotel across the river, an Old Drifter named Percy M. Clark, foggy with fever, makes a mistake that entangles the fates of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy. This sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families as they collide and converge over the course of the century.
Nathan Englander on 'Kaddish.com'
Nathan Englander joins me to discuss his new novel 'Kaddish.com.'
When Larry's father dies, it’s his responsibility to recite the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, every day for eleven months. To the horror of his sister, Larry refuses—imperiling the fate of his father’s soul. Larry hatches a plan, hiring a stranger through a website called kaddish.com to shepherd his father’s soul safely to rest. But after a religious awakening, Larry realizes that he may have sacrificed too much.
Sam Lipsyte on 'Hark'
Sam Lipsyte joins Stephen to discuss his new novel 'Hark.'
In an America convulsed by political upheaval, cultural discord, environmental collapse, and spiritual confusion, many folks are searching for peace, salvation, and—perhaps most immediately—just a little damn focus. Enter Hark Morner, an unwitting guru whose technique of “Mental Archery”—a combination of mindfulness, mythology, fake history, yoga, and, well, archery—is set to captivate the masses and raise him to near-messiah status.
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A Pleasant Surprise
I have been writing on my spare time on and off for several years. I have always wished to connect to other writers and this podcast gives me some of that. I have listened to a few of them so far and all the guests are very interesting in their own way. It would also be fun to hear Stephen talk about something he is writing too. I enjoy his role as host but would love to hear of his struggles in writing and what he is going through. Essentially we don’t get enough from Stephen. I see each episode as listeners learning about the creative writing process alongside Stephen. So that makes me curious as to what Stephen is getting out of this, and how he is being changed by each guest and novel.
My final thought is that creative writing should have no rules. If you make someone think, laugh, or cry than you made something meaningful. If all you do is write for yourself that’s okay too. Write because you cannot contain the words. Write because you have too. Thank you for a great podcast!
Inspired to read!
This was so fun! I love listening to authors discuss their craft. Looking forward to reading "Annihilation" and trying the writing ideas. Can't wait to hear more!
Insightful and entertaining. The first episode was great, looking forward to many more!