The Chills at Will Podcast is a celebration of the visceral beauty of literature. This beauty will be examined through close reads of phrases and lines and passages from fiction and nonfiction that thrills the reader, so much so that he wants to read again and again to replicate that thrill. Each episode will focus on a different theme, such as "The Power of Flashback," "Understatement," "Cats in the Cradle," and "Chills at Will: Origin Story."
Episode 224 with Peter Coviello, Enthusiastic and Deeply Knowledgeable Critic and Celebrator of Moving Art, and Author of the Essay Collection, Is There God After Prince
Notes and Links to Peter Coviello’s Work
For Episode 224, Pete welcomes Peter Coviello, and the two discuss, among other topics, his early relationship with music and bands that led him on a circuitous route to reading and writing, favorite individual and shared writers, the ways in which fandom and passion for books and music and the like grows and cements friendships, and salient topics from the book like The Sopranos as comfort watching and bringing Peter closer to his Covid-isolated family, the tonic and “jolt” that is passionate and talented artist, Prince as of this world and totally otherworldly somehow, and the visceral pleasures that come with love of the arts and love for the people who make and enjoy these arts.
Peter Coviello is a scholar of American literature and queer theory, whose work addresses the entangled histories of sex, devotion, and intimate life in imperial modernity.
A writer of criticism, scholarship, and literary nonfiction, he is the author of six books, including Make Yourselves Gods: Mormonism and the Unfinished Business of American Secularism (Chicago), a finalist for the 2020 John Whitmer Historical Association Best Book Prize; Long Players (Penguin), a memoir selected as one of ARTFORUM’s Ten Best Books of 2018; and Tomorrow’s Parties: Sex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America (NYU), a 2013 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies.
His book, Vineland Reread (Columbia), was listed among the New York Times’s “New and Noteworthy” titles for January of 2021. He taught for sixteen years at Bowdoin College, where he was Chair of the departments of Gay and Lesbian Studies, Africana Studies, and English, and since 2014 has been at UIC, where he is Professor and Head of English. His newest book Is There God After Prince?: Dispatches from an Age of Last Things (Chicago), was selected for The Millions’ “Most Anticipated” list for 2023.
He advises work on 19th- and 20th-century American literatures and queer studies, as well as literary theory, religion and secularism, the history of sexuality, gender studies, poetry and poetics, modernism, and creative nonfiction.
Buy Is There God After Prince: Dispatches from an Age of Last Things
Peter's Website with University of Chicago
New City Lit Review of Is There God After Prince
At about 3:00, Cavatelli! Italian last names! Goodfellas references!
At about 5:00, Peter Coviello talks about his early relationship with the written word, and particularly how “worlds of music and imagination” got him into Rolling Stone and William Faulkner and other wonderful and catchy writing
At about 9:10, Peter highlights the “jolt” and “discovery” of young people/students and coins (?) the term “quotidian miraculousness” that comes with teaching literature
At about 10:50, Pete references the liner notes of Rage Against the Machine albums, as he and Peter discuss talking about great books and other artistic appraisals
At about 12:20, Peter responds to Pete’s question about which writers have influenced him over the years, including more recent writers like Jessica Hopper and Helen Macdonald
At about 15:20, Peter talks about tangential connections to David Foster Wallace
At about 16:20, Peter talks about who he is reading in 2024, including Anna Burns and Sam Lipsyte
At about 19:00, Peter talks about seeds for his essay collections
At about 21:10, Pete and Peter nerd out about a favorite writer of Peter’s and a favorite professor of Pete’s
At about 24:15, Peter discusses love and sorrow and the ways in which critique is intertwined with love, especially when discussing art of all types
At about 25:55, The two discuss contrasts in love of art, and little victories in reading and fandom
At about 28:10, Pete highlights “not nothing” and “and yet” as so crucial and telling in the book
At about 29:20, Pete shouts out the book’s Introduction and he and Peter
Episode 223 with Sarah Rose Etter, Master Balancer of Surrealism, Realism, Dark Humor, and Themes of Grief and Anxiety that are Timely and Timeless
Notes and Links to Sarah Rose Etter’s Work
For Episode 223, Pete welcomes Sarah Rose Etter, and the two discuss, among other topics, her early relationship to the written word, formative and transformative writers and writing, her love of writing in translation, her and Pete’s shared love of Hemingway’s short stories, and seeds for and salient themes related to Ripe, including housing and economic inequalities and realities, depression and anxiety as represented by the book’s “black hole,” parental/child relationships, and grief.
Sarah Rose Etter is the author of RIPE (published by Scribner), and The Book of X, winner of the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award. Her short fiction collection, Tongue Party, was selected by Deb Olin Unferth to be published as the winner of the 2011 Caketrain Award.
Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in TIME, Guernica, BOMB, Gulf Coast, The Cut, VICE, and more.
She has been awarded residences at the Jack Kerouac House, the Disquiet International program in Portugal, and the Gullkistan Writing Residency in Iceland.
In 2017, she was the keynote speaker at the Society for the Study of American Women Writers conference in Bordeaux, France, where she presented on surrealist writing as a mode of feminism.
She earned her B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University and her M.F.A. in Fiction from Rosemont College. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.
New York Times Review of Ripe by Alexandra Chang
At about 2:00, Sarah shouts out the literary landscape and physical landscape
At about 2:45, Sarah talks about her childhood relationship with the written word
At about 4:30, Pete and Sarah exchange formative stories and writing that opened up analytical and emotional taps, including Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” and “Cat in the Rain,” as well as Plath’s “Metaphors”
At about 5:40, Sarah talks about how and why she started writing with short stories
At about 6:50, Sarah reflects on ideas of obsession with subject matter when writing
At about 7:22, Sarah shares a few examples of chill-inducing writing for her as a reader
At about 8:55, Sarah discusses contemporary writers who thrill and challenge her: Carmen Maria Machado, Hallie Butler, Kristen Arnett, Melissa Broder, and many works in translation, like Olga T
At about 15:00, Sarah discusses seeds for Ripe, including how her personal life and the world’s recent issues informed the book
At about 19:00, Pete and Sarah talk about grief and sharing
At about 22:10, Pete sets the book’s exposition, and Sarah gives background on the powerful and meaningful first line of the book
At about 25:30, Sarah and Pete compare notes on first draft and heavy editing
At about 27:15, The two discuss the black hole, a common symbol in the book
At about 29:50, Pete compliments the ways in which Sarah presents the narrator Cassie and the frenzied Silicon Valley lifestyle
At about 30:55, Sarah discusses the ways in which Cassie is the person she is due to her parents’ influences
At about 33:00, Sarah charts and breaks down a bit of her writing outlook and style and schedule
At about 34:30, Sarah references Parasite and Uncut Gems as examples of storytelling and escalating tensions as so powerful
At about 35:50, Sarah talks about her black hole research and earlier permutations of the black hole and its place in the book
At about 37:50, Sarah responds to Pete’s questions about a possible history of depression within Cassie's family and without
At about 40:10, Sarah discusses the strengths and beauty of Cassie’s relationship with her father, as well as some of his toxic qualities
At about 41:20, Sarah discusses the issues revolving around money and the high cost of living
At about 43:10, The two discuss the book’s title and the symbolism of the pomegranate and ideas of mythical connections and underworlds
At about 45:25, The two shout out Stephanie Feldman and
Episode 222 with Andrew Leland, Author of The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight, and Masterful Chronicler of His and Other Journeys with Blindness and its Intersections with our World
Notes and Links to Andrew Leland’s Work
For Episode 222, Pete welcomes Andrew Leland, and the two discuss, among other topics, his early balance of technology and art and creativity that continues to govern his writing and careers, early formative reading, the philosophy of “going blind” versus “becoming blind,” the spectrum of blindness, and salient themes in his book like intersectionality, ableism, and differing ideas of how society sees the blind and disabled, and how this affects Andrew and others in similar situations.
Andrew Leland is a writer, audio producer, editor, and teacher living in Western Massachusetts.
His first book, The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight, about the world of blindness (and figuring out his place in it), was published in July 2023 by Penguin Press.
He has produced audio for a range of entities, including an interview with the DeafBlind poet John Lee Clark for the New Yorker Radio Hour; a story about disabled astronauts for Radiolab; and a story about reading technologies for the blind for 99 Percent Invisible.
From 2013–2019, he hosted and produced the Organist, an arts-and-culture podcast, for KCRW.
He has taught nonfiction writing, radio, and “digital storytelling” (?) at Smith College, UMass-Amherst, and the University of Missouri, he’s been an editor at the Believer since 2003, and he’s edited books for McSweeney’s and Chronicle Books.
Buy The Country of the Blind
New York Times Review of The Country of the Blind
NPR Article on The Country of the Blind
At about 3:15, Andrew details his background with reading and writing, including how he was influenced by his parents in different ways, as well as how he was indirectly influenced by his uncle, the playwright Neil Simon
At about 6:25, Andrew talks about a towering gift from his aunt that really energized his reading and writing journeys
At about 9:30, Pete and Andrew discuss David Foster Wallace, his lasting literary legacy, and his marred legacy outside of writing
At about 11:15, Andrew responds to Pete’s questions about how his background in audio engineering, and how it has affected his writing
At about 15:15, Pete reflects on the reading experience and Andrew reflects on how the book moved along due to his audio background, and Andrew shouts out Rachel Cunningham at Penguin Random House as being extremely helpful with structuring his book
At about 17:10, Andrew discusses seeds for his book
At about 21:00, The two lay out some exposition of the book and discuss the book’s opening lines and contradictions; Andrew expands upon Will Butler’s ideas of “going blind” vs. “becoming blind”
At about 25:20, Andrew gives background on the book’s title, and how it’s based on a HG Wells’ book
At about 27:30, Andrew talks about long-held ideas or stereotypes of blind people and the consequences of same
At about 30:05, Andrew discusses the myriad ways in which blindness has been used as metaphor, and shouts out a book that explores these tropes, There Plant Eyes, by M. Leona Godin
At about 32:45, Andrew explains the difficulties he had with a meetup in Missouri that is featured in the book, as well as some immediate and later revelations that came from this
At about 37:30, Andrew delves into his travels and conventions attended that adjusted his mindset and provided many beautiful moments and learning moments
At about 41:55, Andrew discusses genetic testing for his medical condition, and how he and his wife decided whether or not to have their son tested
At about 44:00, The two discuss ideas of intersectionality and in Andrew’s research and reporting and what he found regarding racism and the strong work put forth by queer women of color in disabled communities
At about 48:10, Andrew and Pete reflect on the history of the Bay Area in the fight for disability justice
At about 51:00, The two discuss the medical advancements and artif
Episode 221 with Martha Anne Toll, Renaissance Woman, Book Reviewer, Creative, and Award-Winning Writer of the Moving, Contemplative Three Muses
Notes and Links to Martha Anne Toll’s Work
For Episode 221, Pete welcomes Martha Anne Toll, and the two discuss, among other topics, her early reading and writing and written word-heavy household, her love of music and other artistic pursuits, and the way muses have worked in her life and in her novel, ideas of grief, survivor’s guilt and connection, real-life tragedies and heroes from the Holocaust that informed her writing, and other salient themes from her book like permanence, memory, and connection.
Martha Anne Toll's debut novel, THREE MUSES, was shortlisted for the Gotham Book Prize and won the Petrichor Prize for Finely Crafted Fiction. THREE MUSES has received glowing tributes since it came out in September 2022. She writes fiction, essays, and book reviews, and reads anything that’s not nailed down.
She brings a long career in social justice to her work covering authors of color and women writers as a critic and author interviewer at NPR Books, the Washington Post, Pointe Magazine, The Millions, and elsewhere. She also publishes short fiction and essays in a wide variety of outlets. Toll is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and serves on the Board of Directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.
’ Her second novel, DUET FOR ONE, will be out in early 2025.
Buy Three Muses
New York Journal of Books Review of Three Muses
At about 2:00, Martha provides a cool definition
At about 2:25, Martha talks about her future project-her book coming out in 2025, and she shouts out places to buy Three Muses
At about 4:20, Martha discusses her early reading and writing life, and the ways in which her parents influenced her habits
At about 7:15, Martha traces her writing journey
At about 8:40, Martha talks about inspiring and beloved writers (like Alex Chee, Garth Greenwell, Kiese Laymon, Vikram seth and shirley hazzard) and writing in contemporary times, as well as how working as a book reviewer affects her own reading for pleasure
At about 10:55, Martha speaks to Pete’s questions
At about 12:10, Martha gives seeds for Three Muses, including how she had ideas based on a real-life story from the Holocaust and the Greek view of three muses
At about 14:10, Pete and Martha lay out some of the book’s exposition
At about 15:30, Martha responds to Pete wondering about how the protagonist John was roused by a dance from Katya/Katherine
At about 16:45, Martha reflects on Katya’s problematic and ongoing collaboration and personal relationship with the director Boris
At about 20:05, Pete lays out some of Katya’s traumas
At about 20:50, Martha talks about Janko/John’s horrific childhood and the loss of his family in Mainz, Germany, in the Holocaust-Martha describes how her cousin Alan Boucher’s memoir informed some parts of the book
At about 22:25, Martha speaks about the guilt-inducing “Sophie’s Choice” that afflicts and saves John/Janko’s; she expounds upon his survivor’s guilt
At about 24:30, Pete and Martha compare Janko’s story with that of Elie Wiesel and the ways in which iit was so gutting to see people killed in the camps so close to Liberation
At about 26:30, The two discuss the idea of reinvention as seen through John in the book, and Martha expands on “unlikely heroes” who helped John to survive
At about 29:20, Martha discusses Barney and Selma Katz, who “adopt” John, and she talks about John’s own psychoanalysis and psychologist training
At about 31:05, The two discuss themes in the book of memorializing, living “in the present tense,” and how memory guides the characters’ actions
At about 33:05, Pete traces John and Katya’s connections, and Martha debates how and if the “innate” connections are there
At about 36:00, Pete asks Martha about any responsibilities/urgency to get Holocaust stories on the page
At about 37:45, Martha speaks of art and its “incredibl[e] importan[ce]” and the power of fiction
Episode 220 with Aniefiok Epoudom: Keen Chronicler of Hip-Hop, Football Culture and Pop Culture in the UK, and Savvy and Nuanced Master of Telling Personal Stories; Author of
Notes and Links to Aniefiok Epoudom’s Work
For Episode 220, Pete welcomes Neef Epoudoum, and the two discuss, among other topics, his early reading and writing, varied fiction and nonfiction writers and their influences on him, the pull of creative nonfiction on him as he discovered favorite writers and their favorite writers, the ways in which he engenders trust with interview subjects, and salient themes and topic from his book, including the UK's Windrush Generation, the ways in which UK grime and rap have grown together and separately, the racism and classism that has shaped so much of modern UK grime and rap, the standout artists who have carved their names in UK music folklore, how these people are shaped by societal forces, and more.
Aniefiok “‘Neef” Ekpoudom is a writer and storyteller from South London whose work documents community and culture in contemporary Britain. His debut book Where We Come From: Rap Home and Hope in Modern Britain is a social history of British Rap. It will be released via Faber & Faber in August 2023.
As a journalist, he writes longform essays and profiles for The Guardian, GQ and more. From charting a history of Black Football culture in South London to mapping the forces of migration and music that formed J Hus, his writing weaves social, cultural and narrative history to explore the current, lived realities of peoples across the UK.
Aniefiok’s writing has featured in a number of essay collections and anthologies, including #Merky Books titles Keisha The Sket (2021) and A New Formation: How Black Players Shaped The Modern Game (2022), as well as SAFE: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space (Trapeze, 2019).
Aniefiok was named on the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List for Media & Marketing. He is a British Journalism Award winner for his work with The Guardian. He has also been named Culture Writer of the Year at the Freelance Writing Awards, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
He has worked with Nike, Netflix, Google, BBC, the Premier League, adidas, YouTube, Metallic Inc, COPA 90 and more.
Buy Where We Come From: Rap, Home & Hope in Modern Britain
At about 3:20, Neef talks about his mindset being two weeks away from his book’s publication and shares his experience in narrating the audiobook
At about 6:35, Pete shares glowing blurbs for Where We Come From from Caleb Azumah Nelson and Musa Okwonga
At about 7:15, Neef discusses places at which to buy his book, like Pages in Hackney, Seven Oaks Bookshop, and Libreria Bookshop
At about 8:05, Neef talks about his language and reading lives during his childhood
At about 10:50, Neef talks about the impact that US and UK rap had on him as a kid
At about 14:45, Neef talks about the ways in which US rap and its genres and subgenres were/are viewed in the US, and how UK rap has been blended with Jamaican Sound System and US hip hop
At about 17:00, Neef responds to Pete’s question about his formation as a writer
At about 18:15, Neef traces his return to heavy reading in university and his exposure to creative nonfiction/New Journalism legends like Gay Talese and Joan Didion
At about 21:20, Neef talks about the contemporary writers who thrill him and challenge him, like Wright Thompson, Hanif Abdurraqib, David Finkel, Gary Smith, and Jacqueline Woodson
At about 26:25, Pete inquires about how Neef engenders trust from his interview subjects for his profiles
At about 29:30, Neef discusses his evolving goals that informed his book
At about 32:25, Neef responds with why he started the book at a show for Giggs
At about 36:35, Neef explains the importance of UK grime as using 140 beats per minute, as well as some forebears of UK rap and grime-the Windrush Generation and Jamaican Sound System
At about 42:30, Neef gives background on the amazing story of Cecil Morris and “Pirate Radio”
At about 47:05, Neef describes So Solid’s garage music as
Episode 219 with Roxanna Asgarian, Principled and Dogged Reporter, Caring and Clear-Eyed Journalist and Author of We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America
Notes and Links to Roxanna Asgarian’s Work
For Episode 219, Pete welcomes Roxanna Asgarian, and the two discuss, among other topics, her history in working with varied journalistic pursuits, the ways in which she has viewed power and racism and privilege in the child welfare system, and the hideous ways in which the system worked against the adopted children in the infamous Hart family murders.
Roxanna Asgarian is a Texas-based journalist who writes about courts and the law for The Texas Tribune. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and Texas Monthly, among other publications. She received the 2022 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award for We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America.
Buy We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America
Roxanna on Twitter
Review on Book from Jennifer Szalai for The New York Times
At about 1:00, Roxanna discusses early reading
At about 2:30, Roxanna discusses her early writing inspirations and the writing lives’ vagaries
At about 4:15, Roxanna responds to Pete’s questions about how student journalism work informed her later writing
At about 7:00, Roxanne discusses contemporary writers and writing that challenge and thrill her
At about 10:10, Roxanna talks about seeds for the book, and what in her personal professional life drew her to the story
At about 14:10, Roxanna gives out contact information and social media info and shouts out Las Vegas’ Writers Block as one of many great places to buy her books
At about 15:25, Roxanna provides some background on the horrific Hart murders and how power came into play in the events surrounding the murders, and how the child welfare system functioned and functions
At about 19:10, Roxanna discusses the rare inquest that took place after the murders
At about 21:15, Roxanna fills in listeners on the “inhumane” way that local detectives called the murders a “Thelma and Louise” situation and ways in which race played in to the stories told by law enforcement and media
At about 23:20, Roxanna explains the power and significance of the “Hug Shared around the World” with Devonte Davis and how it was understood and misunderstood
At about 27:30, The two discuss Dontay Davis’ and the ways in which he was done wrong by The System
At about 30:00, Roxanna explains ASFA (1997 Adoption and Safe Families’ Act), particularly with respect to Sherry Davis’ situations
At about 32:55, Pete refers to Judge Shelton and other paragons of prejudice and racism who were in control in some many family law cases
At about 35:40, Pete mentions adoption incentives and the ways in which those in TX never followed up once the Davis’ kids went to MN, and Roxanna tells the story of how “Bree” was an early foster case that showed the Harts’ unfitness as parents
At about 38:45, Roxanna gives background on gaps and prejudices in the child welfare system and in society that have led to “colorblind” adoptions that have been highly problematic
At about 42:30, The two discuss more about Dontay’s life in recent years, especially after he found out about his siblings’ death
At about 44:25, Roxanna recounts the intense scene in which she helped make the transference of cremains and memories from the children
At about 47:35, Roxanna gives background on the selfless surrogate father, Nathaniel
At about 50:00, Roxanna discusses upcoming projects
You can now subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and leave me a five-star review. You can also ask for the podcast by name using Alexa, and find the pod on Stitcher, Spotify, and on Amazon Music. Follow me on IG, where I’m @chillsatwillpodcast, or on Twitter, where I’m @chillsatwillpo1. You can watch this and other episodes on YouTube-watch and subscribe to The Chills at Will Podcast Channel. Please subscribe to both my YouTube C
Such thoughtful questions!
I was lucky enough to be a guest on Pete’s podcast earlier this year and he is such a thoughtful interviewer. He reads books with such care and attention, and i always learn something from the conversations I listen to. Recommend for writers and readers!
I loved appearing on this podcast as a guest! Pete is a great interviewer, and I’ve loved listening to his past episodes too. So looking forward to following along.
Great Literary Podcast
I love The Chills at Will podcast not only because it has introduced me to numerous authors, but it has also given me a deeper insight into the life and works of authors that I already admired. Pete’s knowledge and research shines through every interview.