The Los Angeles Times raves
"Lethem is as ambitious as Mailer, as funny as Philip Roth and as stinging as Bob Dylan...Dissident Gardens shows Lethem in full possession of his powers as a novelist, as he smoothly segues between historical periods and internal worlds...Erudite, beautifully written, wise, compassionate, heartbreaking and pretty much devoid of nostalgia."
And Booklist, in a starred review, says
"Lethem extends his stylistically diverse, loosely aligned, deeply inquiring saga of New York City (Motherless Brooklyn, 1999; The Fortress of Solitude, 2003; Chronic City, 2009) with a richly saturated, multigenerational novel about a fractured family of dissidents headquartered in Queens...Lethem is breathtaking in this torrent of potent voices, searing ironies, pop-culture allusions, and tragicomic complexities. He shreds the folk scene, eviscerates quiz shows, pays bizarre tribute to Archie Bunker, and offers unusual perspectives on societal debates and tragic injustices. A righteous, stupendously involving novel about the personal toll of failed political movements and the perplexing obstacles to doing good."
Monologue topics: travel, the flu, walking, the homeless guy who asked me for my email address
“Claire of the Sea Light reads like the work of a writer eager to create another world . . . A sense of the possibilities is tangible, where Danticat delves into parenting, revenge, reconciliation and remorse. Claire Limyè Lanmè is the daughter of a widower who is mulling whether or not to let someone else raise his daughter. In this small town, other mothers and fathers are working through reconciling their feelings about parenthood while readers experience a day in her life. Simultaneously, Danticat masterfully weaves in necessary parts of the past.”
And Time Out New York calls it
Monologue topics: mail, corrections, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lucille Ball.
Curtis Sittenfeld is the guest. She is the bestselling author of the novels Prep and American Wife, and her new book, Sisterland, is now available in hardcover and ebook from Random House. The paperback edition is due out in Spring 2014.
The Boston Globe raves
“The power of [Sittenfeld’s] writing and the force of her vision challenge the notion that great fiction must be hard to read. She is a master of dramatic irony, creating fully realized social worlds before laying waste to her heroines’ understanding of them...Her prose [is] a rich delight.”
And The New York Times calls it
“Psychologically vivid...Sittenfeld’s gifts for portraying the inner lives of her heroines [bring Sisterland] closer, in terms of emotional chiaroscuro, to two classics about pairs of sisters, The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett and The Easter Parade by Richard Yates...Sisterland is a testament to the author’s growing depth and assurance as a writer.”
Monologue topics: excerpts of my old journal entries, letters, my twenties, How to Fail.
Tom Perrotta is the guest. He is the author of several acclaimed works of fiction, including Election, Little Children, The Abstinence Teacher, and The Leftovers. His new story collection, Nine Inches, is now available from St. Martin's.
Kirkus, in a starred review, says
"The acclaimed novelist displays perfect tonal pitch in this story collection, as nobody explores the darker sides of suburbia with a lighter touch."
And Publishers Weekly raves
"Told with wit and grace, Perrotta's story collection lays bare the shifting relationships we all suffer and seldom comprehend, presenting characters who are ambushed by the hidden intentions of people they thought they knew."
Monologue topics: mail, adderall, voicemail, sad and deranged listeners, Brad song, MFAs, student loans, the writing disease.
Jesmyn Ward says
"I know these characters well: Champ with his swagger and invincibility, doing all he can to protect his fiercely beating heart. Grace, held together with polish and a prayer, trying to make a way when there isn’t one. Both of them longing, for a better life, a clear path out of their predicaments. I know the language they speak: voices redolent of struggle and the South displaced to our country’s far northwestern corner: Portland, Oregon. A wrenchingly beautiful debut by a writer to be reckoned with, The Residue Years marks the beginning of a most promising career."
And Amy Hempel says
"In this raw heartwreck of a novel, every bit of personal wisdom is hard-won. Here is Grace, mother of Champ: 'Some people are latecomers to themselves, but who we are will soon enough surround us.' It's a searing claim and prophecy about lives severely tested. The author is entirely persuasive, such that Grace and her sons, given vivid voice, are one of the fictional families I have cared about most."
Monologue topics: my adderall experiment, writing, juicing, Dumbo's feather, mild paranoia.
Elizabeth Crane says
"Roy Kesey's stories in Any Deadly Thing are perfect, masterful portraits of an international cross-section of wise, broken souls—hopeful, brutal, funny as hell, and heart-crushing, every last one."
And San Diego City Beat raves
"Most short-story writers are like baseball pitchers. The really good ones have four or five different pitches, but most only have two or three that they've perfected and go to over and over again. Kesey is more like a five-tool outfielder: He can do it all. In Any Deadly Thing, he collects stories about lovable losers, tales of hardscrabble redemption, experimental fiction, Bosnian war stories and expat tales set in Beijing apartments and Peruvian jungles. There's no limit to the man's imagination."
Monologue topics: mail, focusing the podcast on writing, Molly Ringwald, digressions, fame, voicemail, rapping, blushing.
Cal Morgan is the guest. He is a senior vice president and executive editor at the Harper division of HarperCollins, where he is also the editorial director for Harper Perennial and Harper Paperbacks.
Monologue topics: voicemail, animal rights, vegetarianism, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Miley Cyrus, the cultural conversation, the show's format.
Kathleen Hanna raves
"This book is fucking great. There is a story in it called ‘PANDA AMBULANCE!!!’ How is Beth Lisick not as famous as David Sedaris?”
And Matthew Zapruder says
"These short pieces, which at first seem casually constructed and connected, are immediately funny, ironic, personable, embarrassing and oddly appealing. Yet quickly they accumulate into deep emotional resonance. Just a few pages in and I was totally involved with the struggles of this clearly talented, hilariously confused person to be better in her own weird antic backassward ways. Full of indelible phrases (Panda Ambulance!) and painfully irrefutable observations about art, crappy jobs, friendship, wealth, sex, hygiene, booze, motherhood, and so many other things, this book is basically the inverse of those sappy self-discovery memoirs that inevitably arc into hard earned wisdom and self-discovery. This writer has the courage to stay in difficult places, and therefore be truer to life. I laughed and cringed and cared more and more. Thank you, Beth Lisick, it was and continues to be worth all the struggles."
Monologue topics: voicemail, Felicity, funny books, Leaving the Atocha Station, Ben Lerner, beets, Gore Vidal.
“Not since Truman Capote’s Answered Prayers knocked New York society on its heels with its thinly fictionalized revelations of real players who had thought the author was their friend has a book so riled a city’s upper echelons.”
And The Financial Times says
“Like a modern-day Balzac to US capital power players….hilarious….perceptive.”
Monologue topics: mail, Max Millwood, voicemail, three-ways.