Roxane Gay says
“Saint Monkey is an absolute marvel of a book. Jacinda Townsend is dazzling as she transports the reader to a different time and place—the 1950s, rural Kentucky, and Harlem at the height of the jazz era. Two young girls, Audrey and Caroline, fight for a place in the world and, though their paths at times diverge, their journeys and this writer will utterly captivate you.”
And Booklist, in a starred review, raves
“This is a breathtakingly insightful, suspenseful, and gorgeously realized novel of cruelty and sorrow, anger and forgiveness, improvisation and survival, and the transcendent beauty of nature and art.”
Monologue topics: teaching my 3-year-old about death.
Anthony Swofford says
"Reading D. Foy's prose is like watching Robert Stone and Wallace Stevens drag race across a frozen lake at midnight."
And Matthew Specktor says
“D. Foy’s writing is so rich, so saturated in both life and literature, that one is tempted to strain for comparison, to find whatever madcap equivalencies (“It’s X meets Y!”) might begin to describe it accurately. Yet its whorl and grain, the fantastical strangeness of Foy’s sentences and the astonishing accuracy of his perception, amounts to something I can only call new. Made To Break is that rare thing: a truly original, and ferociously necessary, book.”
Monologue topics: news, new written content, upcoming event.
The New York Times Book Review calls it
“[A] tender, detailed portrayal of willed ignorance collapsing in the face of truth…A fine novel.”
And USA Today says
“[Keane] is a talented storyteller, her style plain and steady, not unlike Mary’s demeanor. What’s most remarkable about this novel is its brilliantly visceral vision of everyday life in early-1900s New York City, a rich and detailed working-class backdrop filled with the sights, sounds and smells of tenement squalor, overcrowded apartments, unsanitary conditions, sweatshops, and streets teaming with people trying to survive…If you have an appetite for historical fiction, this novel could be infectious.”
Monologue topics: new website reminder, rebranding reminder, mail.
Kirkus calls it
"...revelatory, [an] unapologetic life story of a San Francisco stripper and sex worker. A raw, searing self-portrait."
And Stephen Elliott says
“Antonia Crane is a gift. Her writing will change how you look at the world.”
Monologue topics: new website, re-branding, Mira Gonzalez and Spencer Madsen.
Heather Christle is the guest. She was the recipient of the 2012 Believer Magazine Poetry Award for her collection entitled The Trees, The Trees (Octopus Books). Her other collections include The Difficult Farm and What is Amazing (Wesleyan University Press).
John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats says
"If you’re thinking about a new tattoo, may I recommend dropping your finger onto any random phrase in Heather Christle’s new book? That’s how keen her ear for the off-the-cuff aphorism is, how neatly her lines break into glistening parts. You get the impression of the oracle at Delphi trying her hand at stand-up or jamming the broadcast of the nightly news: Christle’s gift for welding surreal visions to living speech rhythms keeps unlocking new surprises, page after page. At least once per poem, you feel like the triple-bars just lined up in the slot-machine window, and you laugh or cry out."
Monologue topics: screenplay excerpts, Man of Letters, poetry, tragedy.
David Shields says
"At the center of this artfully recursive narrative is an unspeakable abyss, from which the narrator has been unable to turn since her sister’s suicide. Elyria is astounded that other people can conduct their lives as though this abyss isn’t there; she’s wavering on the edge, and the effect is often genuinely terrifying. A dense, subtle series of meditations on domestication, estrangement, wildness, above all loss and absence."
And Laura van den Berg raves
“In Catherine Lacey’s virtuosic debut, a young woman hurls herself into the landscape of New Zealand in search of a way to break the frozen sea within. The story that follows is a gutsy, lyric meditation on identity, love, transformation, and what it means to be free. Nobody Is Ever Missing is a breathtakingly accomplished novel, and it establishes Catherine Lacey as a riveting new voice in contemporary fiction.”
Monologue topics: traffic, the dentist, road rage, A-Ha, "Take On Me," emotional confusion.
Cheryl Strayed says
“Willy Vlautin writes novels about people all alone in the wind. His prose is direct and complex in its simplicity, and his stories are sturdy and bighearted and full of lives so shattered they shimmer.”
And George Pelecanos says
“The Free is another outstanding book from one of America’s most underappreciated artists.”
Monologue topics: Richmond Fontaine, singing, mail, friendship, new lows for the program, the AWP episode.
O Magazine says
“In Queen Sugar, two bulwarks of American literature—Southern fiction and the transformational journey—are given a fresh take by talented first time novelist Natalie Baszile . . . [the novel] is a sensory experience, a tableau vivant that Baszile skillfully paints in a palette simultaneously subtle and bold. Queen Sugar is a bright and enticing reminder that, sometimes, you can go home.”
And Joshilyn Jackson, the NY Times bestselling author of Gods in Alabama, says
“Queen Sugar is a gorgeous, moving story about what grounds us as brothers and sisters, as mothers and daughters, and all the ways we fight to save each other. Natalie Baszile’s characters put brave roots into inhospitable ground, looking for a place, a person, a community to call home home. I alternately laughed and wept as they failed each other, forgave each other, lost each other, found themselves. It’s a wise, strong book, and I loved it. You will, too.”
Monologue topics: The Oscars, darkness, fear, self-loathing
Jess Walter calls it
“Mythical, magical, and chillingly real…Adrianne Harun’s writing can hold you breathless.”
And Library Journal raves
“Harun’s mastery clearly lies in establishing atmosphere and mood. Much as it does to the novel’s characters, the gothic ambiance wraps around the reader and won’t let go. Laced with local color, this debut will please fans of the macabre.”
Monologue topics: AWP 2014, negative reviews, literary criticism.
This special episode of the podcast was recorded spur-of-the-moment on the afternoon of February 28, 2014. I had the chance to talk with some folks at The HTMLGIANT House who are up in Seattle for AWP. (The 'house' in question is the house that HTMLGIANT rented for the festivities.)
Mira Gonzalez. Spencer Madsen. Gene Morgan. Some guys named Gabe and Patrick who were sitting in a hot tub.
Hear it all, now, raw and uncut.
Raw and uncut.