751 episodes

Interviews with Writers about their New Books
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    • Arts
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Interviews with Writers about their New Books
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    Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis, "2034: A Novel of the Next World War" (Penguin, 2021)

    Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis, "2034: A Novel of the Next World War" (Penguin, 2021)

    The next world war is 13 years away—that is, if you live in the world envisioned by Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War (Penguin, 2021).
    When writing about the intersection of combat and diplomacy, the co-authors draw from experience. Ackerman has worked in the White House and served five tours of duty as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. Stavridis, a retired United States Navy admiral, served as NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and, after leaving the Navy, as the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
    2034 plays out a what-if scenario, starting with an incident between the Chinese and U.S. that escalates into a major conflict. “You could certainly say right now, vis-a-vis the United States’ relationship with China, that if we’re not in a Cold War, we are at least in sort of the foothills of a Cold War,” Ackerman says.
    Told through the eyes of multiple main characters from five nations, the escalating conflict begins to seem inevitable as deceit, posturing, and a game of chicken made it harder and harder for the countries’ leaders to back down. Ackerman feels that a conflict between the U.S. and China in real life is possible but not inevitable.
    “It's a cautionary tale. There's still time to take the exit ramp,” he says.
    Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.
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    • 36 min
    Sara B. Fraser, "Just River" (Black Rose Writing, 2021)

    Sara B. Fraser, "Just River" (Black Rose Writing, 2021)

    Today I talked to Sara B. Fraser about her new novel Just River (Black Rose Writing, 2021).
    The Otis River flows through the once bustling city of Wattsville, a few hours north of NYC, reminding the remaining residents of better days. Cross-dressing Sam is okay with his new, minimum-wage job, as long as he gets to sing Karaoke twice a month. His neighbor and best friend, Carol, is a cashier who spreads love through her baking. Garnet, Carol’s daughter, is in prison after nearly killing her violent boyfriend, who visits her in prison. A couple of inmates learn that he’s rich and threaten Garnet with violence unless he sneaks in drugs for them. Carol and Sam try to help Garnet, but then an innocent boy is kidnapped and a dog is poisoned. The river is the only thing that can save them all.
    Sara B. Fraser is the author of the novels Long Division and Just River. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Carve, Jabberwock Review, the Forge, Wilderness House Literary Review, Salamander, Traveler’s Tales, and more. Fraser completed her BFA in Creative Writing at Emerson College and two master’s degrees, the first in Composition from the University of Massachusetts and the second in Education from Boston College. She is a high-school Spanish teacher, married to an Irishman, and mother of two boys. Her passions are surfing—she has trouble finding people willing to accompany her as she’ll drop everything even in the dead of winter if there’s swell (don’t tell her boss)—and fermenting things in her kitchen. She cultivates funny smelling stuff like kimchi, sauerkraut, vinegar, kombucha, and sourdough bread starter. Some people think scoby (a product of fermentation) is weird looking, but she loves it. She spends summers in Galicia and plans on retiring there. A random fact that may or may not indicate something about who she is: as a teenager she used to darn her socks.
    G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website (GPGottlieb.com) if you wish to recommend an author (of a beautifully-written new novel) to interview, to listen to her previous podcast interviews, to read her mystery book reviews, or to check out some of her awesome recipes.
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    • 23 min
    Daniel Alexander Jones, "Love Like Light: Plays and Performance Texts" (53rd State Press, 2021)

    Daniel Alexander Jones, "Love Like Light: Plays and Performance Texts" (53rd State Press, 2021)

    Daniel Alexander Jones' Love Like Light: Plays and Performance Texts (53rd State Press, 2021) collects seven plays and performance texts from the past twenty-five years. Together, they provide a panoramic view of a remarkable playwright, songwriter, improviser, and performer. In our conversation we discuss Jones' early exposure to theatre as a high school student in Springfield, MA, his discovery of Ntozake Shange's work, his emergence in the Radical Alternative Theater scenes in Austin and the Twin Cities, and his more recent work at New York venues including Soho Rep and Joe's Pub. Love Like Light should be of interest to anyone interested in queer performance, Afromysticism, and abstract structures of performance writing.
    Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts.
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    • 1 hr 6 min
    Pola Oloixarac, "Mona" (Picador, 2021)

    Pola Oloixarac, "Mona" (Picador, 2021)

    An interview with Pola Oloixarac, Mona (2021). Pola and I get to talking about the failure of the US university to live up to its massive influence, especially when it comes to making the lives of black and brown people better. We discuss whether writers are terrible people, or are they simply unfit for any other vocation? Pola introduces me to "me-search," the self-centered prancing of authors at literary conferences. And she helps me to see the folly of imagining writing as a solitary affair, instead imagining the work of the writer as a constant convening of friends.
    Books Recommended in this episode:
    Pola Oloixarac, Mona
    Pola Recommends:

    Maria Gainza, Portrait of an Unknown Lady


    Aldolfo Caseres, Borges (2023 in English)

    Rafael Chirbes, Cremation trans. valerie miles


    Edgardo Cozarinsky,Milongas trans. valerie miles


    Chris Holmes is Chair of Literatures in English and Associate Professor at Ithaca College. He writes criticism on contemporary global literatures. His book, Kazuo Ishiguro as World Literature, is under contract with Bloomsbury Publishing. He is the co-director of The New Voices Festival, a celebration of work in poetry, prose, and playwriting by up-and-coming young writers.
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    • 52 min
    Carin Clevidence, “Ghosts of the Southern Ocean” The Common magazine (Fall, 2021)

    Carin Clevidence, “Ghosts of the Southern Ocean” The Common magazine (Fall, 2021)

    Carin Clevidence speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Ghosts of the Southern Ocean,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Carin talks about how her experiences traveling to Antarctica on expeditions have changed over the years, and how that change comes through in her writing. She also discusses her 2011 novel The House on Salt Hay Road, and the novel she’s recently completed about an expedition to Antarctica.
    Carin Clevidence grew up in a family of naturalists and travelers. She is the author of a novel, The House on Salt Hay Road (FSG), as well as essays and short stories appearing in Guernica, the Washington Post, Off-Assignment, O Magazine, OZY, Panorama, and elsewhere, and forthcoming in the anthology Letter to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us. She has worked as a deckhand in Baja, Mexico and an assistant expedition leader in Antarctica, and received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, and Sustainable Arts, and residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell, Art Omi, Marble House Project, and Hawthornden Castle, among others. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, and is currently at work on a novel about art, perfectionism, and revenge.
    Read her essay in The Common at thecommononline.org/ghosts-of-the-southern-ocean.
    The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at thecommononline.org, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag.
    Emily Everett is managing editor of the magazine and host of the podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. She holds an MA in literature from Queen Mary University of London, and a BA from Smith College. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily.
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    • 34 min
    Juliette Fay, "Catch Us When We Fall: A Novel" (William Morrow, 2021)

    Juliette Fay, "Catch Us When We Fall: A Novel" (William Morrow, 2021)

    On her own since the age of eighteen, Cass Macklin dated brilliant, troubled Ben McGreavy, convinced he was the smartest person she'd ever known. They partied their way through their twenties, slowly descending into a bleak world of binge-drinking and broken promises, inebriated for most of a decade. Now Ben is dead, and Cass is broke, homeless, scared...and pregnant.
    Determined to have a healthy pregnancy and raise Ben's baby, Cass has to find a way to stop drinking and build a stable life for herself and her child. But with no money, skills, or sober friends or family, the task seems insurmountable. At wit's end, Cass turns to the only person with the means to help her: Ben's brother Scott, third basemen for the Boston Red Sox, a man with a temper and problems of his own.
    The two make a deal that neither one of them is sure they can live up to. As Cass struggles to take control of her life and to ask for help when she needs it, Scott begins to realize there's a life for him beyond the baseball diamond.
    By turns heartbreaking and humorous, with its message that change is possible, that forgiveness can be freely given, and that life, though imperfect, is worth embracing, Juliette Fay's Catch Us When We Fall: A Novel (William Morrow, 2021) is a story of human connectedness and hope.
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    • 18 min

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