Sam Lipsyte says
“People as multi-talented and skilled as Alina Simone, who sings beautifully, writes essays, and now foists upon us a truly funny and poignant novel, need to be stopped. And maybe they will be, but in the meantime, there is no harm in falling into the soulful voice of Simone's narrator, Anna, as she struggles with the end of numb, cubicled youth and the awkward beginnings of new life.”
And Kirkus calls it
“A remarkably assured debut . . . Wicked, witty.”
Monologue topics: Fourth of July, the weird story of how my bad back was finally healed.
Lee Boudreaux is the guest. She is the editorial director at Ecco Press and has worked with a long list of notable authors, including Stephen King, David Wroblewski, Alissa Nutting, Patrick DeWitt, and Ben Fountain.
Monologue topics: mail, strange mail, Whole Foods, marriage, parenthood, using your words.
Entertainment Weekly calls it
“Stunning . . . comes across as a bleaker, funnier, R-rated version of The Glass Castle and marks the arrival of a blazing new voice in literature.”
And The New York Times Book Review calls it
“A luminous, layered accomplishment.”
Monologue topics: the sun's lethal nature, worrying about people not being worried about me.
From the publisher:
"Being a lesbian doesn’t come natural to everyone. That’s what Erika Kleinman learned during her sexual awakening in 1990s Seattle, when she began dating a host of butch women who were all too willing to show her the ropes. My Life as a Dyke recounts Kleinmans’ relationships with candor and humor while making one thing clear: no matter who you’re interested in, dating can be a nightmare."
Monologue topics: people smiling at me, cosmic energy, narcissism, walking meditation, Los Angeles.
Maggie Nelson is the guest. She is the critically acclaimed author of books like The Red Parts, Bluets, and The Art of Cruelty.
The New York Times Book Review calls The Art of Cruelty
"An important and frequently surprising book . . . could be read as the foundation for a post-avant-garde aesthetics. . . . Nelson, who is also a poet, is such a graceful writer that I . . . just sat back and enjoyed the show.”
And BOMB Magazine says of Bluets
"From blue factoids like Benedict de Saussure’s 1789 invention of 'cyanometer, with which he hoped to measure the blue of the sky,' to her own struggles with depression, Nelson gifts us with what seems like a lifetime study of blue while somehow slyly avoiding any of the obvious 'blue' clichés. Maggie Nelson continues to raise the bar higher in what a reader can expect from a book. Bluets is smart yet intimate, quiet yet provocative, and a welcome addition to the poetic non-fiction discourse."
Monologue topics: mortality, memory, writing, childhood, wiping, O.J. Simpson, major cultural moments.
Joyce Carol Oates says
"Dear Lucy introduces a young writer with a most original voice and a tenderly eccentric vision. Julie Sarkissian has created a boldly lyrical, suspenseful, and mysterious fictional world in this striking debut novel."
And Ron Rash raves
"In Dear Lucy, Julie Sarkissian has accomplished what many veteran novelists never achieve: a startlingly original work that is also profound and wise in the vagaries of the heart. What an amazing debut."
Monologue topics: mail, listener reactions to the Tao Lin episodes, Alt-Lit.
Michael Kimball says
"There’s a hell of a lot more charm in Savoca’s book than a novel about sad and smart twenty-somethings should ever have."
And Scott McClanahan says
“Man, this book gets in you. It’s like baby food. You could go to the store and buy a jar and eat it with your hands, but it’d be better to have someone who shares your last name spoon it out on your tongue. After reading it, you will say, ‘Give me more, Momma.’ I want more. MORE. MORE. GIVE US MORE MATTHEW.”
Monologue topics: writing, superstition, childhood, memory, punting the ball at the new girl, shooting my little sister with a slingshot.
Emily Gould is the guest. She is the author of the memoir And the Heart Says Whatever (Free Press, 2010), and her novel entitled Friendship is due out from FSG in 2014. A former co-editor at Gawker, she now runs her own publishing venture called Emily Books, with Ruth Curry.
Curtis Sittenfield says of And the Heart Says Whatever:
"These smart, poignant essays about being young and literary in New York City are like a twenty-first century version of The Bell Jar but with more pot, sex, technology, and (thank goodness) a different ending."
Monologue topics: moaning, humming, Starbucks, Miles Davis, elevators, neighbors, styrofoam, avoidance, existential pain.
The New York Observer says
"Tao Lin [is] an excellent writer of avant-garde fiction. His new novel is his most mature work, and follows a young New York writer to Taipei, where he must reconcile his family’s roots with the haze of MDMA, texts and tweets that he’s been living in. Mr. Lin has refined his deadpan prose style here into an icy, cynical, but ultimately thrilling and unique literary voice."
And Blake Butler says
“The insane level of scrutiny of everyday personal behavior in Taipei feels somewhere between that of Andy Warhol and a young, bored Patrick Bateman. All the strange modernity we’ve come to expect from Tao Lin—alienation, obsession, social confusion, drugs, the internet, sex, food, death—is rendered here with an calm intuition, somehow distant and metaphysical at once, brutally honest and avoidant, touching and monotonic, like getting sewn inside a mask of your own face. And as can also always be expected of the author, it is mesmerizing, sharp, singularly him, a work of vision so relentless it forces most any reader to respond.”
Monologue topics: tweets, Denver, water, Matt Bell, TNB Book Club, In the House Upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods.
Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, says
"For all its straightforwardness, Lin’s previous work—with its flat, Internet-inspired prose issued by small presses—has presented a stumbling stone for readers who fall outside his North Brooklyn contingent, for whom he is the standard bearer. This will change with the breakout Taipei, a novel about disaffection that’s oddly affecting. . . . Everything about Taipei appears to run contrary to the standard idea of what constitutes art. And yet, the documentary precision captures the sleepwalking malaise of Lin’s generation so completely, it’s scary. . . . Yet for all its emotional reality, Taipei is a book without an ounce of self-pity, melodrama, or posturing, making the glacial Lin (Richard Yates) the perfect poster child for a generation facing—and failing to face—maturity.”
And Bret Easton Ellis says
“With Taipei Tao Lin becomes the most interesting prose stylist of his generation.”
Monologue topics: Terence McKenna, telepathy, language, evolution, death, getting [your] act together.
BookPage calls it
“Difficult to read, but impossible to put down—this is perhaps the best way to describe Melanie Thorne’s debut, Hand Me Down. Like Janet Finch’s 1999 bestseller White Oleander, this is a raw and all too realistic story about a California teen forced to move from house to house—and often from bad situation to worse—after her well-intentioned but self-centered mother makes a life-changing choice.”
And The Associated Press says
“Melanie Thorne's debut novel is raw with emotion as she describes Liz's often futile efforts to protect her sister and herself from the predator their mother has invited into their lives. It is often hard to remember that this is, in fact, a novel and not a memoir… Thorne's novel is an eye-opener… she leaves the reader haunted by a nagging question: What happens to the children who are not so lucky?”
Monologue topics: cynicism, Ancient Greece, guerilla theater, graffiti art, public sex.
Deb Olin Unferth is the guest. She's the author of three books, the most recent of which is a memoir called Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War (Henry Holt). It was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award.
Dave Eggers says
"This is a very funny, excoriatingly honest story of being young, semi-idealistic, stupid and in love. If you have ever been any of these things, you'll devour it."
And Bookslut calls it
“[O]ne of the best memoirs of the past several years. It's a difficult book to stop reading; Unferth is charming, charismatic, and breathtakingly smart… [Revolution is] more than enough to catapult Unferth into the ranks of America's great young writers.”
Monologue topics: Memorial Day weekend, Venice Beach, Katy Perry, celebrity sightings, Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, the gym, Paul Rudd.
Masha Hamilton is the guest. She is currently working in Afghanistan as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy at the US Embassy, and her new novel, What Changes Everything, is now available from Unbridled Books.
Caroline Leavitt raves
"As real and immediate as a racing pulse, Hamilton’s dark jewel of a novel turns the political into the personal with a blazing tapestry of characters, all grappling with the terrifying cost of war and the unbreakable bonds of love. Thrilling and magnificent."
And Jillian Cantor says
"Intensely gripping and beautifully written, What Changes Everything shows the lengths we will go to save each other and ourselves. A stunning collage of loss, grief, love, and most of all, survival, Hamilton’s characters—and their stories—are richly drawn and achingly real."
Monologue topics: Memorial Day, Frances Ha, personal lives of celebrities intruding on the moviegoing experience.
Maureen Corrigan of NPR's Fresh Air says
"Europa Editions...has been doing the Lord's work in terms of introducing European literary novels, many of them in translation, to an American readership."
And the LA Weekly says
“You could consider Europa Editions...as a kind of book club for Americans who thirst after exciting foreign fiction.”
Monologue topics: blurbs, bullshit, Jim Carroll, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, The Pussy Posse, the grandeur of delusions.
Kendra Grant Malone is the guest. She is the author of two poetry collections, Everything is Quiet (Scrambler Books) and Morocco (Dark Sky Books), the second of which she co-wrote with Matthew Savoca.
Blake Butler says
"Kendra Grant Malone contains several hundred people. Likewise, her words seem to protect several hundred other words beneath their giddy, precise calm. Here is a mother and a voyeur and a pervert and a magick-making child, somewhere between them all your brand new old friend, teeming with such heat. Here is language more honest than I could ever be. I suggest you keep it close, warm. I suggest you keep an eye, as if this book had human hands beyond its gorgeous shoulders it would tickle you to death; it would hump your funny tired body, then eat your head for what you’ve seen."
And Ben Greenman says
"Any book that thanks ‘vodka, cocaine, and Citalopram, for making mood swings bearable and this book possible’ is likely to a strong sense of its own identity, or identities, and Kendra Grant Malone’s Everything is Quiet certainly does. Strong: her use of language, her voice, her commitment to getting it right, even as she’s describing how she frequently gets it wrong. Sense: a good ear, a good eye, an intimate acquaintance with bodies and what (and who) they do. These fifty sexy, thoughtful, and sometimes pained poems do right by sex, love, and sometimes pain, not to mention menstrual blood, greasy hair, funny faces, and watering eyes."
Monologue topics: bachelor parties, relief, contradiction, antisocial behavior, strip clubs, Wrangler jeans, fly-fishing.
John Irving says
"Red Moon is a serious, politically symbolic novel—a literary novel about lycanthropes. If George Orwell had imagined a future where the werewolf population had grown to the degree that they were colonized and drugged, this terrifying novel might be it."
And Library Journal, in a starred review, raves
"This literary thriller by an award-winning young writer will excite fans of modern horror who enjoy a large canvas and a history to go with their bloody action. . . . Fans of Max Brooks's zombies and Justin Cronin's vampires will enjoy the dramatic breadth of Percy's tale of werewolves."
Monologue topics: the Internet, blackouts, addiction, meditation, masturbation, my mother.
Anna Stothard is the guest. Her novel The Pink Hotel is now available in the United States from Picador. And her latest effort, a novel called The Art of Leaving, is just out in the UK from Alma Books.
The New York Times calls The Pink Hotel
“Stylish… captures an outsider’s gape at sun-drenched Los Angeles.”
And Davy Rothbart raves
"The Pink Hotel is mysterious, lyrical, and utterly absorbing, by turns funny and forlorn. [Stothard's] writing bristles with sexiness and suspense, love, loss, and longing. This is the best book I’ve read in years.”
Monologue topics: stopping, vistas, nature, personal space, park benches, eating on airplanes, Reese Witherspoon.
HTML Giant says:
"There is nothing on the back cover. A wall of black staring at you. No pull quotes or blurbs, and by the second page you realize why: because the book speaks for itself....I read this tiny book in one sitting in a coffee shop amazed by its power and had to go indoors to drown out the outside world to reread it and devour it properly....Early frontrunner for best book I’ve read this year, certainly the most memorable. I can’t remember reading anything quite like Solip....Solip is a twitter account from hell, a deranged patient babbling on a shrink’s couch....Concise yet brimming with ideas and thoughts and lists and fragments and run-ons and then it’s over and you’re left wondering what the fuck happened."
Monologue topics: fiction, nonfiction, my novel, paralysis, creative quandaries, Errol Morris, Baltimore, The Black Guerilla Family, prison corruption.
The library was recently featured in the New York Times:
"Matt Nelson, a graduate student in creative writing at Queens College and one of the library’s two founders, explained the origins of the place, which is meant to serve as a reading room and gathering spot in addition to book lender. Mr. Nelson and Jacob Perkins, both 26, started the library in February, inspired in part by Pilot Books, a bookstore in Mr. Nelson’s hometown, Seattle, that carried volumes by independent publishers, and which closed in 2011.
"Mellow Pages also specializes in those more arcane titles. Without the advertising budgets of major houses, the smaller presses have more difficulty finding readers, Mr. Nelson said, and the idea behind the library was to form a community of people who could share books that were not easy to find elsewhere."
Monologue topics: voicemails, Spencer Madsen, Skype, my voice, cheese, New York City.
Cheryl Strayed says
"The Still Point of the Turning World is about the smallest things and the biggest things, the ugliest things and the most beautiful things, the darkest things and the brightest things, but most of all it’s about one very important thing: the way a woman loves a boy who will soon die. Emily Rapp didn’t want to tell us this story. She had to. That necessity is evident in every word of this intelligent, ferocious, grace-filled, gritty, astonishing starlight of a book."
And Kirkus, in a starred review, calls it
"A beautiful, searing exploration of the landscape of grief and a profound meditation on the meaning of life."
Monologue topics: wedding, Chicago, sobriety, alcohol, 5-Hour Energy, Tay-Sachs, NTSAD.org
The Daily Beast says
"[Maazel] has a real talent for taking these existential millstones of modern life—fear of death, failure, being alone, everything—and filtering them into morbidly funny, troublingly familiar forms. . . . Woke Up Lonely easily refutes the idea that the novel is a staid, obsolete form of writing. The stakes in Maazel's book are at least as real as any work of nonfiction, and it's a good deal more fun to read than any manifesto."
And Bookforum raves
"Woke Up Lonely is another wunderkammer, a deeply felt and wildly original novel that repays the attention it demands, and once read won't be soon forgotten."
Monologue topics: having nothing to say, saying something anyway, to-do lists, talking about writing, my dogs, dog baths.
Kirkus calls it
"Eloquent and universal."
And The Portland Mercury says
"It’s unusual to read a memoir built of short stories, but it works—instead of forcing a narrative arc onto his own life, as so many memoir writers do, Nadelson simply places these stories next to one another, allowing their edges to overlap, tugging the reader forward and backward in time. The results are funny, quietly compelling, and unflinchingly frank. Nadelson has built a golem out of paper and typeface."
Monologue topics: my little sister's wedding, peer pressure, alcohol, the Cajun element.
The New York Times raves
"A voice as fresh as hers is so rare that at times I caught myself cheering. . . .I’d go anywhere with this writer."
And The Boston Globe says
"So fresh, original, and funny you’ll be in awe… Tupelo Hassman has created a character you’ll never forget. Rory Dawn Hendrix of the Calle has as precocious and endearing a voice as Holden Caulfield of Central Park.”
Monologue topics: the Internet, Fiona Apple, going crazy, the world is bullshit.
Cheryl Strayed says
"Roberge’s writing is both drop-dead gorgeous and mindbendingly smart. The Cost of Living is an intimate, original, important novel that I’ll be recommending for years to come."
And Scott Shriner, bass player for Weezer, says
"This is a guy who clearly knows his way around a tour bus. And around a massive drug habit. A dark, funny, frightening, and above all authentic book about the toll the rock and roll lifestyle can take."
Monologue topics: Boston, terrorism, tragedy, talking about speechlessness, confusion, darkness, realism, pragmatism, idealism.
"A brilliant collection of essays on modern life, and ways that technology and connectivity are changing how we interact with the world....As Orange brilliantly breaks down the state of modern life and how it stands in relation to technology and the commoditized image, she tells us much of what we already have intuited, but might have been afraid to admit to ourselves...."
And Publishers Weekly raves
"In this whip-smart, achingly funny collection, film critic Orange (The Sicily Papers) trains her lens on aging, self-image, and the ascendancy of the marketing demographic, among other puzzles of the Facebook generation....[this is] a collection whose voice feels at once fresh and inevitable."
Monologue topics: TNB Literary Experience, tweets.