Sam Pink says
“The first time I heard Ana’s writing was 2 years ago. In November of 2010, I read at the ‘Ear Eater’ reading series in Chicago. Ana was another reader. She was reading via Skype. There were a lot of people at the reading. After I read, I walked out of the room and stood in a hallway, staring at the floor. After a few difficult conversations with people in the hallway, I heard the host of the reading talking to someone on the computer. It was Ana. Ana started reading. I laughed a lot and enjoyed her reading. Seemed like other people weren’t enjoying it as much as me but I was enjoying it a lot. I stood in the hallway laughing and shaking my head ‘Yes’ and people looked at me. I kept thinking, ‘I want to go into the room and watch her face reading’ but then I would think, ‘No, don’t do that, just listen.’ Not sure why I kept telling myself not to go into the room where she was reading but I stood in the hallway and listened and enjoyed it a lot. Two years later, Ana emailed me Baby Babe. I opened the PDF just to skim a few poems but then I read the whole book. When I was done reading the book, I thought, ‘I’ll be glad to have this book so I can look at it whenever I want.’”
Monologue topics: foreign languages, bilingualism, power dynamics, ego, inferiority, anger.
Dennis Lehane calls it
"The real deal. Save Yourself is an electrifying, tomahawk missile of a thriller with honest-to-God people at its core. It rocks the house."
And The New York Times says
"There’s storytelling skill to burn here. Ms. Braffet has empathy for her working-class characters and brings neglected places to convincing life."
Monologue topics: orders of business, questions from listeners, blogging, what I'm reading currently.
Lee Klein is the guest. He has two books out this year. The first is called Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck, available now from Barrelhouse. The second, due out in August 2014, is called The Shimmering Go-Between (Atticus Books).
Blake Butler says
"Somewhere on the brutal truth continuum between Bill Hicks and Mussolini, Lee Klein’s rejection letters are mini-masterpieces of literary criticism disguised as no-thank-yous from Writer’s Hell. And yet, in each, a little lesson; a steadfast faith that says 'I took the time to read what you created and this is exactly what I thought.' They should be passing these things out under the pillows at MFA camp; we’d all be better off."
And Elizabeth Ellen says
"Lee Klein made me cry. He was the only editor ever to make me. This was back in 2002. I wish I still had the email. I remember it going something like, 'whenever you have the instinct to write a line like that, delete it immediately, without prejudice.' I hated him for a while. I pictured him looking like the guy in that 90’s movie Heavy (the one with Liv Tyler), except housebound and with no redeemable qualities. Then, somewhere around 2004, I met him 'IRL' and he was soft-spoken and sweet. It was harder to hate him after that. Reading all of these rejection letters here in this book made me finally fall a little in love with him, I think. I think if I had had access to (and disassociation from) these letters then, I might have fallen in love with him then. This is the funniest book I have read in a long time. It is also the smartest. I feel confused now, like I’m unsure whether to love or hate Lee Klein. But both of us are married now so it doesn’t really matter."
Monologue topics: analytics, paranoia, See's Candies, death, parenthood, mortal fear.
Daniel Woodrell says
"Young God is a poetic, grim, and beautifully dark novel about backwoods violence and horror recounted in a numbed, laconic voice. Morris writes with splendid economy, chapters short as contes, and plenty of slashing insights on the rough world of throwaway lives and varieties of wrong."
And Richard Hell says
"This book is so clean and dirty: thirteen-year-old Nikki’s nipples pop like buttons; Kool Kings come in a hard box; white goo tastes a little salty but mostly like nothing. The best dreams are of nothing. Except that it is not nothing. It is charged white space: These pages happen to you and now you’re awakening, groping groggily to reconstruct. Get mixed up by it. Enter the single-wide and find some ecstasy with Katherine Faw Morris."
Monologue topics: mail, videos, intoxicated listeners on rooftops, my bad memory.
Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, calls it
"A spellbinding look into the protagonist’s being... meticulously crafted ... Days and shows pass, but within this routine, a transformation slowly creeps into the narrative: that of commitment, and, perhaps, hope for the future."
And Michael Stipe says
"The world of Wonderland is authentic, vibrant, and genuine. Stacey D’Erasmo explores the delight and terror of second chances. A great read!"
Monologue topics: heat, Santa Ana winds, climate change, indifference, idiocy, fear.
Roxane Gay says
"In Once I Was Cool, Megan Stielstra is warm and open and wise. Whether she’s writing about the complex loneliness of early motherhood or failing to rise to the occasion or find the right language while living abroad, Stielstra is a masterful essayist. From the first page to the last, she demonstrates a graceful understanding of the power of storytelling. What she’s truly offering with her words, is the grandest of gifts."
And Christine Sneed says
"What an amazing cri de coeur Once I Was Cool is. Megan Stielstra tells us in a witty, sympathetic, confident voice who she is and what and whom she cares about most. Reading these essays, I laughed out loud and also found myself on the verge of tears so many times. This book should be read by anyone who's been in love, had a child or thought about having a child. So, probably, that's everyone."
Monologue: humans, friendships, community, the fragility of human relationships, loneliness, complexity, simplicity.
Leslie Jamison is the guest. Her new collection of essays, entitled The Empathy Exams, is now available from Graywolf Press.
The New York Times Book Review calls it
"Extraordinary and exacting....This capacity for critical thinking, for a kind of cool skepticism that never gives way to the chilly blandishments of irony, is very rare. It's not surprising that Jamison is drawing comparisons to Sontag....There is a glory to this kind of writing that derives as much from its ethical generosity, the palpable sense of stretch and reach, as it does from the lovely vividness of the language itself....It's hard to imagine a stronger, more thoughtful voice emerging this year."
And Phillip Lopate, writing for The San Francisco Chronicle, says
"[Jamison] writes consistently with passion and panache; her sentences are elegantly formed, her voice on the page intimate and insistent. Always intelligent, self-questioning, willing to experiment with form, daring to engage with the weird and thrust herself into danger spots, a patient researcher and voracious processor of literature and critical theory, she is the complete package: state-of-the-art nonfiction."
Monologue topics: mail, cheering up, the struggle, expressing the subterranean.
Jonathan Evison raves
“O, Democracy! infuriates and inspires. Rooney has written a brilliant and fiercely readable novel of politics and ideals, both an indictment and a celebration of the American Experiment, which will leave you breathless.”
And Elizabeth Crane says
“With O, Democracy!, Kathleen Rooney makes a swift and seamless transition from poetry to fiction, pairing her skill for image with a fresh voice, humor, and a keen eye for the political world she navigates here. An exciting debut.”
Monologue topics: panicking, whining, suffering publicly, ratings, E.T., money, picking up the tab, emotionally needy social behavior.