Bernie Glassman is the guest. He is a pioneer in the American Zen Movement, an accomplished academic and businessman, and the founder of the Zen Peacemakers. His new book, co-authored by Jeff Bridges, is called The Dude and the Zenmaster. A New York Times bestseller, it is available now from Blue Rider Press.
Sheila Heti, writing for the Financial Times, says
“The Dude and the Zen Master [is] a wonderful book of conversations...about acting and Zen and the long, fond relationship between these men.”
And The Dudespaper calls it
“[A] good conversation between good friends...One of the unexpected treats of The Dude and the Zen Master is the insights into who Jeff Bridges is behind the Dude persona...touching remembrances of his parents, his reflections on life as a devoted family man, and his behind-the-scenes stories of movies he’s worked on [and] profound little Zen observations and insights sprinkled throughout the book.”
Monologue topics: Zen, meditation, discipline and lack thereof, losing my shit, my daughter, guilt, the Oscars.
Lesley Arfin is the guest. She was a staff writer on the first two seasons of the hit television show Girls, starring Lena Dunham, and she also writes on the MTV series Awkward. Her book, Dear Diary, is based on a column of the same name that originally appeared in Vice magazine. It was published by Vice Books/MTV Press in 2007.
Sarah Silverman says
“Here’s your chance to have all the benefits of a tortured adolescence without the shitty childhood. Congratulations!”
And Chloe Sevigny says
"What I love about Dear Diary is how strongly it resonates with all girls. We all went through a bitch phase that makes us cringe when we remember it. We tried being good; we tried being bad; we made other girls feel like shit before we knew what it felt like...It seems like the world is ending when you're 17 and in the middle of it, but looking back now I realize that's what adolescence is all about: making mistakes. And that's why I love Dear Diary."
Monologue topics: tweets, mail, alt-lit, Internet literature, Jordan Castro, Mira Gonzalez, Megan Boyle, Sam, women, vaginas, feminism.
Ben Brooks, author of Grow Up, says
“I read these poems three times in one night, then put the duvet over my head and held my knees for a while. It’s good when something makes sense. I really really liked these poems.”
And Chris Killen says
“If you are a person who doesn’t really know what they are doing and you would like to read about another person who doesn’t really know what they are doing either, I recommend reading this poetry book. I enjoyed reading these poems. Or something.”
Monologue topics: Episode 150, premium bonus content, Megan Boyle, Mira Gonzalez, Sam, Skype, festive moods.
Megan, Mira, and Sam were in Tao Lin's apartment in New York City. (Tao was not there; he was out of the country at the time.)
I was here in Los Angeles, in the home office.
Things got interesting.
Terry Tempest Williams is the guest. She is the author of several books, including the environmental literature classic, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. Her latest book is called When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice. It was published in hardcover by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux in 2012, and the paperback edition is due out from Picador on February 26, 2013.
Susan Salter Reynolds, writing for The Daily Beast, says
"Williams is the kind of writer who makes a reader feel that [her] voice might also, one day, be heard….She cancels out isolation: Connections are woven as you sit in your chair reading---between you and the place you live, between you and other readers, you and the writer. Without knowing how it happened, your sense of home is deepened."
And The San Francisco Chronicle raves
"Williams displays a Whitmanesque embrace of the world and its contradictions....As the pages accumulate, her voice grows in majesty and power until it become a full-fledged aria."
Monologue topics: media diet, news, minimum wage, operating, ambition, fear, power, nausea, juice, scams, beautiful crazy people.
Dwight Garner of the The New York Times says
"Mr. Robbins's heart is not lovely but beating a bit arrhythmically; not dark but lighted by a dangling disco ball; not deep but as shallow and alert as a tidal buoy facing down a tsunami. Yet it's a heart crammed full, like a goose's liver, with pagan grace. This man can write."
And Sasha Frere-Jones says
"You may notice the cultural references first -- Guns N' Roses, Eric B. & Rakim, Fleetwood Mac, M*A*S*H, Star Wars -- and be tempted to tie Robbins to these anchors. But there are as many contemporary references in Eliot and Pound and Horace as there are in Robbins: carbon-dating isn't what distinguishes these poems. Robbins works in traditional and nontraditional forms that pivot on the beat, which he turns around, seamlessly and ruthlessly. The thread here is a long-distance conversation crammed into the available enjambment, as charged as the pop songs that play beneath the words."
Monologue topics: Patrick Swayze, tweets, drones.
Joyce Johnson is the guest. She is the author of several books, the most recent of which is called The Voice is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac, available now from Viking.
Kirkus calls it
“An exemplary biography of the Beat icon and his development as a writer…Johnson [turns] a laser-sharp focus on Kerouac’s evolving ideas about language, fiction vs. truth and the role of the writer in his time…there’s plenty of life in these pages to fascinate casual readers, and Johnson is a sensitive but admirably objective biographer. A triumph of scholarship.”
And Russell Banks says
"This is quite simply the best book about Kerouac and one of the best accounts of any writer's apprenticeship that I have read. And it should generate a serious reconsideration of Kerouac as a classical, because hyphenated, American writer, one struggling to synthesize a doubled language, culture, and class. It's also a terrific read, a windstorm of a story."
Also in this episode: Joshua Mohr, author of the novel Fight Song, now available from Soft Skull Press. Fight Song is the February selection of The TNB Book Club. Publishers Weekly calls it "an interesting mix of Charles Bukowski and Tom Robbins, with a cinematic heaping of the Coen brothers for good measure."
Monologue topics: doubt, doubting doubt, mental downward spirals, confusion.
James Lasdun is the guest. He is the author of two novels, four collections of poetry, and two collections of short stories, including the collection The Siege, the title story of which was made into a film by Bernardo Bertolucci (Besieged). With Jonathan Nossiter he co-wrote the films Sunday, which won Best Feature and Best Screenplay awards at Sundance, and Signs and Wonders, starring Charlotte Rampling and Stellan Skarsgaard. His new book, Give Me Everything You Have, is a memoir published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
J.M. Coetzee says
“Give Me Everything You Have is a reminder, as if any were needed, of how easily, since the arrival of the Internet, our peace can be troubled and our good name besmirched.”
And Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, says
"Lasdun’s tale of being stalked is only part of the story—his disembodied, if mentally violent, encounters with 'Nasreen,' his stalker, lead him to reflect on topics as diverse as the seductive power of literature, like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the writings of D.H. Lawrence, and his father’s work as an architect in Israel and the aggressively anti-Semitic response it provoked. The 'verbal terrorism' (Nasreen’s phrase) escalates as the book goes on, but it’s almost a red herring—it is indeed terrifying, and as the stalker becomes more sophisticated, she begins tormenting his friends and colleagues. But Lasdun is able to see past the surface-level effects of her attacks to the desperate and pitiable person behind them. This subtle, compassionate take on the subject is rife with insights into the current cyberculture’s cult of anonymity, as well as the power, failure, and magic of writing.”
Monologue topics: Julian Tepper, Philip Roth, bleakness, cynicism, writing, awfulness, the ability to change your fundamental nature.
Matthew Salesses is the guest. He is the author of two chapbooks, Our Island of Epidemics and We Will Take What We Can Get, and his new novel is called I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying, which is published by Civil Coping Mechanisms.
Matt Bell raves
“In Matt Salesses’s smart novel-in-shorts, a newly-minted father flees telling his own story by any means necessary—by sarcasm, by denial, by playful and precise wordplay—rarely allowing space for his emerging feelings to linger. But the truth of who we might be is not so easily escaped, and it is in the accumulation of many such moments that our narrator, like us, is revealed: both the people we have been, and the better people we might be lucky enough to one day hope to become.”
And Catherine Chung says
“Matthew Salesses has written an extraordinary and startlingly original novel that explores connection and disconnection, the claims and limitations of the self, and the shifting terrain of truth. Poetic, unforgettable, shot through with fury and yearning, I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying captures in clear and chilling flashes our capacity for the cruelty and tenderness of love.”
Also in this episode: a conversation with Reality Hunger author David Shields. His new book, How Literature Saved My Life, is now availalble from Knopf. And later this year, in September, he will publish The Private War of J.D. Salinger, co-authored by Shane Salerno.
Monologue topics: mail, literary ambulance chasing, luck, cause and effect, beautiful people.