28 episodes

It’s the groves of academe: Bennington College, the wildest and wickedest school in America. In the last great decade: the 1980s. Bennington class of ’86, class of Bret Easton Ellis, future writer of American Psycho and co-leader of the literary Brat Pack; Jonathan Lethem, future writer of Motherless Brooklyn and MacArthur Fellow; and Donna Tartt, future writer of The Secret History and Pulitzer Prize winner. All three are, at various times, infatuated and disappointed with one another, their friendships stimulated and fueled by rivalry as much as affection. And all three will mythologize Bennington in their fiction—fiction that, as we’ll discover, isn’t always fiction, is often fact—and thereby become myths themselves. From the Peabody-nominated C13Originals studios and Vanity Fair's Lili Anolik, comes the latest installment in the “Once Upon a Time…” franchise, Once Upon a Time… at Bennington College. This is a tale of money, murder, madness, and—of course—genius. This is, too, a multi-dimensional expose: the secret history of The Secret History revealed; the secret history of three of the greatest writers of Generation X revealed; and the secret history of Generation X itself revealed. This follows Season One of the franchise, Once Upon a Time...in the Valley, a real-life psychological thriller about underage adult star Traci Lords.

Once Upon a Time… at Bennington College C13Originals

    • Society & Culture
    • 3.8 • 1.7K Ratings

It’s the groves of academe: Bennington College, the wildest and wickedest school in America. In the last great decade: the 1980s. Bennington class of ’86, class of Bret Easton Ellis, future writer of American Psycho and co-leader of the literary Brat Pack; Jonathan Lethem, future writer of Motherless Brooklyn and MacArthur Fellow; and Donna Tartt, future writer of The Secret History and Pulitzer Prize winner. All three are, at various times, infatuated and disappointed with one another, their friendships stimulated and fueled by rivalry as much as affection. And all three will mythologize Bennington in their fiction—fiction that, as we’ll discover, isn’t always fiction, is often fact—and thereby become myths themselves. From the Peabody-nominated C13Originals studios and Vanity Fair's Lili Anolik, comes the latest installment in the “Once Upon a Time…” franchise, Once Upon a Time… at Bennington College. This is a tale of money, murder, madness, and—of course—genius. This is, too, a multi-dimensional expose: the secret history of The Secret History revealed; the secret history of three of the greatest writers of Generation X revealed; and the secret history of Generation X itself revealed. This follows Season One of the franchise, Once Upon a Time...in the Valley, a real-life psychological thriller about underage adult star Traci Lords.

    Dis-Orientation

    Dis-Orientation

    Bennington. Autumn, 1982. Donna, Jonathan and Bret arrive on the campus of the school nicknamed “The Little Red Whorehouse on the Hill.” One of them comes with a steamer trunk. One of them comes with a Kangol cap. One of them comes with a “suitcase full of drugs.”

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    • 44 min
    Bret Ellis, Valley Boy

    Bret Ellis, Valley Boy

    Los Angeles, 1980-1981. “There was just this huge sense that the world was gay, gay, gay.” The origin story of Bret Easton Ellis (and Less Than Zero), Part One.

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    • 52 min
    An Alley Along Melrose

    An Alley Along Melrose

    Los Angeles, 1981-1982. “This rumor went around in 1981, 1982, that kids just were brought to see the body of another kid.” The origin story of Bret Easton Ellis (and Less Than Zero), Part Two.

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    • 48 min
    Disappear There

    Disappear There

    Bennington. Autumn, 1982. Bret and Donna go on a date.

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    • 51 min
    Bennington Revisited

    Bennington Revisited

    Bennington. Autumn, 1982. Donna falls under the thrall of a magus-like professor, and the very small, very elite, very male band of students to whom he teaches Ancient Greek. “I can absolutely distinctly remember the three of them, and then the four of them—the three guys but then the four. The guys with Donna.”

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    • 59 min
    Mississippi Chippy

    Mississippi Chippy

    Winter, 1982-1983. Over Non-Resident term, Donna gets closer to Jonathan, and becomes Paul McGloin's "Burning Boy."

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    • 1 hr

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5
1.7K Ratings

1.7K Ratings

cubanita#1 ,

Bennington college via Bret and Donna

I thought this was an interesting idea. And then I started to listen to the episodes. I loved the Secret History when it first came out. I reread it recently and couldn’t get through it. I don’t think that either one of these writers is such a big talent. They are both so full of themselves. Perhaps when they were younger they seemed like phenoms but their books are not aging well.

The host with all her asides and armchair psychology would have served her story better if she had written a tight article. All the interviews were a waste of time.

Why did Donna switch colleges? Seems self-explanatory.

nutellakell ,

I was obsessed

I was absolutely addicted to this podcast and listened to the whole Bennington series in one week. Thank you!

djcookout ,

Just Not Good

I went to Bennington. The mystification of 80s Bennington and over-sensationalized commentary does a total disservice to what makes the college truly unique and transformative. There can be a narrative that highlights all aspects - the wildness, questionable morals of the 80s, the hardworking students, the slacking students, and the dedicated, brilliant faculty - in a respectful and…better way, but this podcast simply fails. Unlistenable.

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