Interviews, readings, music, and more from the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Rachel Kushner Amongst The Hard Crowd
Kate and Medaya are joined by Rachel Kushner, author previously of Telex from Cuba and the Flamethrowers, both nominated for the National Book Award, and The Mars Room, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Award. Rachel's new book is a collection of her essays from the past two decades, The Hard Crowd, which exhibits the inspiring breadth of her interests and influences, many of which she discusses - from motorcycle racing, to prison abolition, the Anarcho-Marxist Italian left, rock impresario Bill Graham, the writing of Marguerite Duras, and the people and places of her rough-edged youth in San Francisco.
Also, Jackie Wang, author of The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void, returns to recommend Nobody: A Hymn to the Sea by poet Alice Oswald
Jackie Wang: The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void
Kate and Medaya talk with poet, essayist, and critic Jackie Wang about her new collection of poetry The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void. As an Assistant Professor of Culture and Media Studies at The New School, Wang also works on race, surveillance technology, and the political economy of prisons and police. In her poetry, she uses dreams to get to very concrete historical and social issues; along with the apocalypse, survival, intimacy, speech, silence and of course, sunflowers. Jackie discusses the relationship between her poetry and academic work; and her exploration of dreams, psychoanalysis, and the work of the imagination “the work of creating openings where there were previously none.”
Also, Jo Ann Beard, author of Festival Days, returns to recommend both Daniel Orozco's collection of stories Orientation; and also Amy Hempel's collection Sing To It.
Jo Ann Beard's Festival Days
Medaya talks with renowned essayist and fiction writer Jo Ann Beard, whose latest collection is called Festival Days. Near the beginning of the book, Jo Ann writes that there’s an element of fiction in her essays and essays in her fiction - an idea she elaborates on during the conversation. Jo Ann shares much about her own life and development as a writer, while addressing many of the central themes of the work: death, illness, childhood, memory and of course, her renowned and professed love for animals.
Also, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein returns to recommend one of Jane Austen's later novels, Mansfield Park.
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein's Disordered Cosmos
Eric Newman is joined by Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein to discuss her book The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, which opens up with some very heavy science, explaining quarks, dark matter and other phenomena that point to the limits of our knowledge about the how the universe, and everything in it, functions. But at the heart of the book is a series of questions about how the social construction of science both foments a toxic culture and might help us to understand not only how to do science better, but how to do better science.
Also, Brian Dillon, author of Suppose a Sentence, returns to recommend Inventory of a Life Mislaid by Marina Warner.
Contrasting Interiors: Christine Smallwood's Life of the Mind and Sara Davis' Scapegoat
Kate and Medaya speak with two heralded debut novelists. First up is Christine Smallwood, author of The Life of the Mind, about Dorothy, a failing adjunct professor in New York City, who suffers a miscarriage, and struggles to maintain her resilience in an unwelcoming world. Christine explains how the novel came to be and reflects on why Dorothy’s travails so successfully capture the texture of our time. Then Sara Davis joins Kate and Daya to talk about her novel The Scapegoat, which also centers around an academic in crisis. The narrator, N, disrupts his routine life to investigate the circumstances of his estranged father’s death, which is clouded in uncertainties of history, identity, and reality. Sara shares how she approached writing such a challenging and rewarding work.
Brian Dillon Supposes a Sentence
Kate and Medaya welcome essayist Brian Dillon, author of Suppose a Sentence which offers sharp analysis (along with intriguing discursus) of 27 sentences, both celebrated and obscure, from the likes of William Shakespeare, James Baldwin, John Ruskin, and Joan Didion. Brian opens the show with a passage from his introduction, a paean to the work of the writers he loves and the expansive possibilities of a single line. The conversation focuses on the joys and perils of close reading and reverie.
Also, Claudio Lomnitz, author of Nuestra America: My Family in the Vertigo of Translation, returns to recommend On Kings by anthropologists David Graeber and Marshall Sahlins - and relate its lessons to the reign of Donald Trump.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Best LIT podcast around
Colin Marshall is a perfect interviewer!
Check his outstanding podcast NOTEBOOK ON CITIES AND CULTURE (also in iTunes) if you think I am exaggerating. And I am not his grandmother, by the way!
I <3 Colin Marshall