66 episodes

Hosted by Sruti Islam and Alex Nierenhausen
Theme Songs by Gino Visconti and Michael Jaworski (@mikejaws)
Audio Production by Kyel Loadenthal

Weird Era Weird Era

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 34 Ratings

Hosted by Sruti Islam and Alex Nierenhausen
Theme Songs by Gino Visconti and Michael Jaworski (@mikejaws)
Audio Production by Kyel Loadenthal

    Episode 67: Weird Era feat. Paolo Ferrante

    Episode 67: Weird Era feat. Paolo Ferrante

    About Paolo Ferrante:

    Paola Ferrante is a writer living with depression. Her debut poetry collection, What to Wear When Surviving a Lion Attack (2019), was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Prize. She has won Grain Magazine's Short Grain Contest for Poetry, The New Quarterly's Peter Hinchcliffe Short Fiction Award, Room Magazine's Fiction Contest, and was longlisted for the 2020 Journey Prize for the story “When Foxes Die Electric.” Her work appears in After Realism: 24 Stories for the 21st Century (2022), Best Canadian Poetry 2021 (2021), North American Review, PRISM International, and elsewhere. She was born, and still resides in, Toronto.

    About Her Body Among Animals:

    In this genre-bending debut collection merging horror, fairy tales, pop culture, and sci-fi, women challenge the boundaries placed on their bodies while living in a world “among animals,” where violence is intertwined with bizarre ecological disruptions.

    A sentient sex robot goes against her programming; a grad student living with depression is weighed down by an ever-present albatross; an unhappy wife turns into a spider; a boy with a dark secret is haunted by dolls; a couple bound for a colony on Mars take a road trip through Texas; a girl fights to save her sister from growing a mermaid tail like their absent mother.

    Magical yet human, haunted and haunting, these stories act as a surreal documentation of the mistakes in systems of the past that remain very much in the present. Ferrante investigates toxic masculinity and the devastation it enacts upon women and our planet, delving into the universal undercurrent of ecological anxiety in the face of such toxicity, and the personal experience of being a new mother concerned about the future her child will face.

    Through these confrontations of the complexity of living in a woman’s body, Her Body Among Animals moves us from hopelessness to a future of resilience and possibility.

    • 45 min
    Episode 66: Weird Era feat. Sean Michaels

    Episode 66: Weird Era feat. Sean Michaels

    About Sean Michaels:
    SEAN MICHAELS is the author of the novels Us Conductors and The Wagers, and his non-fiction has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Guardian, Pitchfork and The New Yorker. He is a recipient of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the QWF Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize and the Prix Nouvelles Écritures, and he founded the pioneering music blog Said the Gramophone in 2003. Born in Stirling, Scotland, Sean lives in Montreal.

    About Do You Remember Being Born?
    At 75, Marian Ffarmer is almost as famous for her signature tricorn hat and cape as for her verse. She has lived for decades in the one-bedroom New York apartment she once shared with her mother, miles away from any other family, dedicating herself to her art. Yet recently her certainty about her choices has started to fray, especially when she thinks about her only son, now approaching middle age with no steady income. Into that breach comes the letter: an invitation to the Silicon Valley headquarters of one of the world's most powerful companies in order to make history by writing a poem.

    Marian has never collaborated with anyone, let alone a machine, but the offer is too lucrative to resist, and she boards a plane to San Francisco with dreams of helping her son. In the Company's serene and golden Mind Studio, she encounters Charlotte, their state-of-the-art poetry bot, and is startled to find that it has written 230,442 poems in the last week, though it claims to only like two of them.

    Over the conversations to follow, the poet is by turns intrigued, confused, moved and frightened by Charlotte's vision of the world, by what it knows and doesn't know ("Do you remember being born?" it asks her. Of course Marian doesn't, but Charlotte does.) This is a relationship, a friendship, unlike anything Marian has known, and as it evolves—and as Marian meets strangers at swimming pools, tortoises at the zoo, a clutch of younger poets, a late-night TV host and his synthetic foam set—she is forced to confront the secrets of her past and the direction of her future. Who knew that a disembodied mind could help bend Marian's life towards human connection, that friendship and family are not just time-eating obligations but soul-expanding joys. Or that belonging to one’s art means, above all else, belonging to the world.

    • 49 min
    Episode 65: Weird Era feat. Jessica Campbell

    Episode 65: Weird Era feat. Jessica Campbell

    About Jessica Campbell:
    Jessica Campbell is a Canadian artist originally from Victoria, British Columbia. Her fine art has been exhibited across North America, and in 2019 she had a solo exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. An educator of comics art and history, Campbell has taught at a variety of institutions, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of the graphic novels Hot or Not: 20th Century Male Artists and XTC69.

    About Rave:
    It’s the early 2000s. Lauren is fifteen, soft-spoken, and ashamed of her body. She’s a devout member of an evangelical church, but when her Bible-thumping parents forbid Lauren to bring evolution textbooks home, she opts to study at her schoolmate Mariah’s house. Mariah has dial-up internet, an absentee mom, and a Wiccan altar—the perfect setting for a study session and sleepover to remember. That evening, Mariah gives Lauren a makeover and the two melt into each other, in what becomes Lauren’s first queer encounter. Afterward, a potent blend of Christian guilt and internalized homophobia causes Lauren to question the experience.

    Author Jessica Campbell (XTC69) uses frankness and dark humor to articulate Lauren's burgeoning crisis of faith and sexuality. She captures teenage antics and banter with astute comedic style, simultaneously skewering bullies, a culture of slut-shaming, and the devastating impact of religious zealotry. Rave is an instant classic, a coming-of-age story about the secret spaces young women create and the wider social structures that fail them.

    • 45 min
    Episode 64: Weird Era feat. Mona Awad

    Episode 64: Weird Era feat. Mona Awad

    About Mona Awad:

    Mona Awad is the author of the novels All’s Well, Bunny, and 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl. Bunny was a finalist for a Goodreads Choice Award and the New England Book Award. It was named a Best Book of 2019 by TIME, Vogue, and the New York Public Library. It is currently being developed for film with Bad Robot Productions. All’s Well was a finalist for a Goodreads Choice Award. 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. Awad’s forthcoming novel Rouge, is being adapted for film by Fremantle and Sinestra. This spring, Margaret Atwood named Awad her ‘literary heir’ in The New York Times’s T Magazine. She teaches fiction in the creative writing program at Syracuse University and is based in Boston.

    About Rouge:

    From the critically acclaimed author of Bunny comes a horror-tinted, gothic fairy tale about a lonely dress shop clerk whose mother’s unexpected death sends her down a treacherous path in pursuit of youth and beauty. Can she escape her mother’s fate—and find a connection that is more than skin deep?

    For as long as she can remember, Belle has been insidiously obsessed with her skin and skincare videos. When her estranged mother Noelle mysteriously dies, Belle finds herself back in Southern California, dealing with her mother’s considerable debts and grappling with lingering questions about her death. The stakes escalate when a strange woman in red appears at the funeral, offering a tantalizing clue about her mother’s demise, followed by a cryptic video about a transformative spa experience. With the help of a pair of red shoes, Belle is lured into the barbed embrace of La Maison de Méduse, the same lavish, culty spa to which her mother was devoted. There, Belle discovers the frightening secret behind her (and her mother’s) obsession with the mirror—and the great shimmering depths (and demons) that lurk on the other side of the glass.

    Snow White meets Eyes Wide Shut in this surreal descent into the dark side of beauty, envy, grief, and the complicated love between mothers and daughters. With black humor and seductive horror, Rouge explores the cult-like nature of the beauty industry—as well as the danger of internalizing its pitiless gaze. Brimming with California sunshine and blood-red rose petals, Rouge holds up a warped mirror to our relationship with mortality, our collective fixation with the surface, and the wondrous, deep longing that might lie beneath.

    • 38 min
    Episode 63: Weird Era feat. Emerson Whitney

    Episode 63: Weird Era feat. Emerson Whitney

    About Emerson Whitney:

    Emerson Whitney is a writer and a professor. Their book Heaven, McSweeney’s 2020, was named a ‘best book’ by the AV Club, PAPER, Literary Hub, Refinery29, Ms. Magazine, Chicago Review of Books, the Observer, and the Seattle Times. Heaven was also awarded a Kirkus star and was written about by nonfiction editor at Kirkus, Eric Liebetrau, in a piece called “Queer Memoir Old and New” as a profile of Emerson and Heaven is compared to Alice B. Toklas’ by Gertrude Stein. Heaven also won a silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards and continues to garner praise. Emerson was named a 2020 Now List awardee in literature alongside Ocean Vuong and Danez Smith by Them magazine. Emerson’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Believer, Paris Review and elsewhere.

    About Daddy Boy:

    In 2017, Emerson Whitney was divorcing the woman they’d been with for ten years—a dominatrix they called Daddy. Living in a tent in the backyard of their marital home, Emerson was startled to realize they didn’t know what it meant to be an adult. “We often look to our gender roles as a sort of map for aging,” they write. “I wanted to know what the process looked like without that: not man-ness, not-woman-ness.” Dizzied by this realization, they turned to an activity steeped in stereotypical masculinity: storm chasing.

    Daddy Boy follows Emerson as they pack into a van with a rag-tag group of storm chasers and drive up and down tornado ally—from Texas to North Dakota—staying in motels and eating at gas stations and hunting down storms like so many white whales.

    In heading with them to Texas, we return, too, to the only site of adulthood Emerson has ever known: their childhood. Interspersed throughout this trip are memories of dad—both Emerson’s stepdad, Hank, present and unflinching and extremely Texan; and their biological dad, who they hardly knew. With his cowboy hats and random girlfriends, he always seemed so sweet and lost.

    Through these childhood vignettes, coupled with queer theory and weeks spent reading the clouds like oracles, wanting nothing more than to drive straight into the eye of a storm, Emerson frames these probing questions of manhood against the dusty, loaded background of the American West.

    • 38 min
    Episode 62: Weird Era feat. Hilary Leichter

    Episode 62: Weird Era feat. Hilary Leichter

    About Hilary Leichter:

    Hilary Leichter is the author of Temporary, which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and was longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her writing has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, the New Yorker, and the New York Times. She teaches at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

    About Terrasse Story:

    Annie, Edward, and their young daughter, Rose, live in a cramped apartment. One night, without warning, they find a beautiful terrace hidden in their closet. It wasn’t there before, and it seems to only appear when their friend Stephanie visits. A city dweller’s dream come true! But every extra bit of space has a hidden cost, and the terrace sets off a seismic chain of events, forever changing the shape of their tiny home, and the shape of the world.

    Terrace Story follows the characters who suffer these repercussions and reverberations: the little family of three, their future now deeply uncertain, and those who orbit their fragile universe. The distance and love between these characters expands limitlessly, across generations. How far can the mind travel when it’s looking for something that is gone? Where do we put our loneliness, longing, and desire? What do we do with the emotions that seem to stretch beyond the body, beyond the boundaries of life and death?

    Based on the National Magazine Award–winning story, Hilary Leichter’s profound second novel asks how we nurture love when death looms over every moment. From one of our most innovative and daring writers, Terrace Story is an astounding meditation on loss, a reverie about extinction, and a map for where to go next.

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
34 Ratings

34 Ratings

aarofn ,


Great conversations!

Cestantina ,

Insightful questions and inspired conversations

This podcast is perfect for anyone interested in contemporary literature or just someone who likes to know about the process of writing. The questions are not basic but always so insightful (like you can see the host is passionate about the books) and allows you to delve into the author’s thought process. The guest authors always seem very pleased about the conversations! You guessed it: I love this podcast!

drea gideon ,

Stellar interviews with incredible authors

I’m amazed each time I tune in to the podcast The interviews are so well done, such thoughtful and original questions that always seem to catch the author off guard and give me a chuckle. A testament to the magic that happens when you buy your books locally and NOT from Amazon.

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