Dmitry Samarov is the guest. His new memoir, Where To?, is now available from Curbside Splendor.
Rick Kogan calls it
"Funny, touching, observant, philosophical, sad, world-weary, artful and wonderful are the stories that pepper this book. There has never been a cab driver like Dmitry Samarov and, since he's given up for keeps late-night for-hire driving, there never will be."
And Wendy MacNaughton says
"With his gorgeous pen and ink drawings and funny, tragic, and all too true stories, Samarov's chronicle of his adventures as a Chicago taxi driver is by far the best ride you'll ever take in a cab."
Monologue topics: mail, recent episodes.
Dorothea Lasky is the guest. Her latest poetry collection, Rome, is available now from Liveright.
Maggie Nelson says
“Dorothea Lasky is one of the very best poets we've got. Her poems radiate weirdness and raw power; you can feel your mind grow new folds as you read them. They lay waste to milquetoast notions of poetic longing or melancholy, and instead go in for the vibrating, bloody facts of sadness, anger, desire, bare life, all returned to us more intensely, strangely, and sometimes comedically, by her words. The line is Lasky's measure, and she wields it like an axe she's been carrying through several lifetimes, that kind of wisdom. Her Rome is huge and intrepid and perfect, a total gift.”
And Fanny Howe says
“Rome is a trip with the wheels engaged to land at every line ending, then flipped up again. A wholly open-hearted book bringing me back to Bernadette Mayer, Maureen Owen and the suffragettes. True life.”
Monologue topics: holiday gift ideas, support the show, Dorothea reads a poem.
William Giraldi is the guest. His latest novel, Hold the Dark, is now available from Liveright Publishing.
The New York Times Book Review calls it
“[F]ierce, extraordinary…. Hold the Dark is an unnerving and intimate portrayal of nature gone awry. It’s all but bereft of levity, spectacularly violent and exquisitely written.”
And the Boston Globe says
“Maybe it all began with Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock in 1938, but there is a variety of modern thriller, created these days by Robert Stone and Denis Johnson at their best, that delivers narrative thrust and beautifully composed sentences by the pageful even as it peels away the thin membrane that separates entertainment from art, and nature from civilization. Here’s Boston writer William Giraldi adding to the slender ranks of such masterly fiction… [Hold the Dark] certainly stands out as one of the decade’s best books of its kind, and one that deserves, because of its stylish flaunting of some of our darkest fears, a future readership.”
Monologue topics: holiday gift ideas, the holidays, capitalist orgies, bad attitudes.
The New York Times calls it
“Perhaps the finest and most unsentimental love story of the new decade.”
And Joy Williams says
"So much of American fiction has become playful, cynical and evasive. Preparation for the Next Life is the strong antidote to such inconsequentialities. Powerfully realistic, with a solemn, muscular lyricism, this is a very, very good book."
Monologue topics: TNB Book Club, mail, transcribing this podcast, Dear Sugar, advice.
Meghan Daum is the guest. Her new essay collection, The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, is available now from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
Hilton Als says
“I think it’s fair to say that I can’t tell you what Meghan Daum’s remarkable book means to me—the exceptional often denies verbalization. Her diverse subject matter aside—Mom, Joni Mitchell, the fetishization of food—it’s Daum’s galvanizing energy that one finds so attractive; nowhere in her work is there evidence of the ‘trance’ that Virginia Woolf said characterized so many women’s lives. Instead, Daum builds her various worlds out of great presence and imagination, and who wouldn’t want to live in her new city?”
And Geoff Dyer says
“The Unspeakable is a fantastic collection of essays: funny, clever, and moving (often at the same time), never more universal than in its most personal moments (in other words, throughout), and written with enviable subtlety, precision, and spring.”
Monologue topics: mail, dead animals, sleep, naps.
Hannah Pittard is the guest. Her new novel is called Reunion, and it is available now from Grand Central Publishing.
Emily St. John Mandel calls it
"A nuanced and intriguing study of family and love, money and debt, failure and success, starring one of the most likeable flawed narrators to come along in some time."
And Publishers Weekly calls it
"Emotionally astute...When this family of sorts gathers in Atlanta for the funeral, there is tension, pain, comedy, and finally, some healing and resolution. Kate is a winning narrator, whose insights into herself and her family keep the pages turning."
Monologue topics: wheat, internet holes, movies, Birdman, Gone Girl.
Bich Minh Nguyen is the guest. Her new novel, Pioneer Girl, is available now from Viking.
The San Francisco Chronicle calls it
"[A] sincere and moving novel... a surprising synthesis of the personal and the public, the intimate and the epic, the historical and the fictional. Nguyen takes two disparate strands of our national mythology and weaves them into a powerful and wholly original American saga."
And Kirkus Reviews says
"Nguyen has a perceptive understanding of the tension between mothers and daughters and the troubling insights to be gained from digging into the past. An unexpected pleasure, with a well-drawn and compelling narrator."
Monologue topics: Las Vegas, pot, gambling, losing, winning, ethics.
Frederick Barthelme is the guest. His latest novel, There Must Be Some Mistake, is available now from Little, Brown & Co.
David Shields says
"Very nearly alone among his peers, Frederick Barthelme has, over the last thirty-five years, written fiction about what it actually feels like to live in contemporary post-religious, hyper-mediated America. And—even more of a rarity—he works hard to find a way to somehow tolerate/celebrate, with enormous subtlety and without an ounce of sentimentality, our bare-bones existence. In There Must Be Some Mistake, Barthelme has distilled his brutal, crucial vision into useable essence."
And Publishers Weekly says
"Barthelme, a master of minimalist suburbia-set fiction, returns with a buoyantly offbeat murder tale that doubles as a meditation on everything from contemporary art to Google to mortality... Throughout the novel, his narration provides punchy, wry commentary on the banality of pop culture, but the tone is, ultimately, infectiously optimistic."
Monologue topics: mail, food, animal rights, Sarah Gerard, not voting, apathy, George Carlin.
Elizabeth McCracken is the guest. Her latest book is a story collection called Thunderstruck & Other Stories, and it is available now from The Dial Press.
The New York Times Book Review says
“Elizabeth McCracken knows how loss can melt reality, forever altering a person’s sense of time....In her new collection, McCracken gives brilliantly splintered life to just that kind of story....The fact that there is nothing depressing about the ubiquity of accident and disaster in Thunderstruck & Other Stories is a powerful testament to the scratchy humor and warm intelligence of McCracken’s writing....Her wisdom and wit have a moral dimension that deepens our sympathy for her straying souls.... [A] restorative, unforgettable collection.”
And Nick Hornby says
“Elizabeth McCracken is one of my favorite writers. Or, to put it another way: I’ve read everything she’s written...and there’s nothing I haven’t liked and admired enormously...She writes with acuity, soul, and a kind of easy grace that probably kills her, about characters she has created to love.... Thunderstruck showcases all the things this remarkable writer is so good at: the eccentric but illuminating metaphors, the deft characterization, the heart-lurching narrative development, the tenderness, the fantastic aphorisms....Anything new by her is an excuse for wild, drunken celebration.”
Monologue topics: mail, Christianity, Jesus, God, confusion.