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Otherppl with Brad Listi

A weekly podcast featuring in-depth interviews with today's leading authors.
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Now displaying: 2014
Mar 30, 2014

Jacinda Townsend is the guest. Her new novel Saint Monkey is now available from W.W. Norton & Co.

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.

Mar 26, 2014

D. Foy is the guest. His debut novel, Made to Break, is now available from Two Dollar Radio.

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.

 

Mar 23, 2014

Mary Beth Keane is the guest. Her latest novel, Fever, is now available from Scribner.

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.

Mar 19, 2014

Antonia Crane is the guest. Her new memoir, Spent, is now available from Rare Bird Lit / A Barnacle Book. 

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.

Mar 16, 2014

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.

Mar 12, 2014

Catherine Lacey is the guest. Her debut novel, Nobody Is Ever Missing, is due out from FSG Originals in July 2014. 

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.

Mar 9, 2014

Willy Vlautin is the guest. His new novel The Free is now available from Harper Perennial. It is the official March selection of The TNB Book Club.

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.

Mar 5, 2014

Natalie Baszile is the guest. Her debut novel, Queen Sugar, is now available from Pamela Dorman Books. 

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

Mar 2, 2014

Adrianne Harun is the guest. Her new novel, A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain, is now available from Penguin.

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.

Mar 1, 2014

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.

 

 

Feb 26, 2014

Kelcey Parker is the guest. Her new novella, Liliane's Balcony: A Novella of Fallingwater, is now available from Rose Metal Press.

Booklist says

"The latest from Parker is an inventive novella hybrid, a mix of prose and poetry, past and present, heartbreak and humor. At the core is Liliane Kaufmann, the wife and first cousin of the philandering Edgar Kaufmann, who commissioned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to create the audacious Fallingwater, a Pennsylvania house built over a waterfall. Rippling out from the couple is a cast of characters spanning centuries. Without introduction or background, a different voice narrates each chapter as the iconic home itself becomes a central character. Interspersing fiction with fact (although fact outweighs fiction in this well-researched story), Parker reveals the tragic life of strong, intelligent Liliane, who is slowly eroded by a complicated marriage gone toxic. Adding dimension to her portrayal are three other women, all at different points of self-­discovery, all potentially bound for a similar fate as Liliane. Not unlike Fallingwater’s structure, which masterfully balances the man-made with the natural, Parker sculpts and controls myriad, nearly unwieldy elements to construct a driven plot that illuminates the perched house and those who live within it."

Monologue topics: mail, my long creative struggle, creativity identity, showing your work.

 

Feb 23, 2014

Randa Jarrar is the guest. Her debut novel, A Map of Home, is now available from Penguin.

Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, raves

Jarrar's sparkling debut about an audacious Muslim girl growing up in Kuwait, Egypt and Texas is intimate, perceptive and very, very funny. Nidali Ammar is born in Boston to a Greek-Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father, and moves to Kuwait at a very young age, staying there until she's 13, when Iraq invades. A younger brother is born in Kuwait, rounding out a family of complex citizenships. During the occupation, the family flees to Alexandria in a wacky caravan, bribing soldiers along the way with whiskey and silk ties. But they don't stay long in Egypt, and after the war, Nidali's father finds work in Texas. At first, Nidali is disappointed to learn that feeling rootless doesn't make her an outsider in the States, and soon it turns out the precocious and endearing Arab chick isn't very different from other American girls, a reality that only her father may find difficult to accept. Jarrar explores familiar adolescent ground—stifling parental expectations, precarious friendships, sensuality and first love—but her exhilarating voice and flawless timing make this a standout.

Monologue topics: being in a rush, technology, my brain, teaching my daughter about music, Freddy Mercury, Billy Idol.

Feb 19, 2014

Spencer Madsen is the guest. He is the founder of Sorry House, an independent press based in Brooklyn, and his new book of poetry, You Can Make Anything Sad, is due out from Publishing Genius Press in April. 

Dennis Cooper raves

"When I read Spencer Madsen’s poetry, I not only feel awe because he’s so good, one of the best, but I also think about how everything in the world is happening at the same time, and how the world we get to know is so heavily edited down. It’s the hugest, weirdest feeling. I wish Spencer Madsen could be everywhere at once. I really love You Can Make Anything Sad.”

Monologue topics: Mira Gonzalez, mail, misophonia, change of location. 

Feb 16, 2014

Nina McConigley is the guest. Her debut story collection, Cowboys and East Indians, is now available from FiveChapters Books. 

Antonya Nelson says

“What I love about this collection of stories is its wit and warmth. McConigley’s characters are “the wrong kind of Indians living in Wyoming,” and their struggles as exoticized and denigrated community members could be, in a less interesting writer’s hands, yet another scolding tract on America’s guilty conscience. Instead, this book celebrates human pluck and humor, a new sensibility for a new time, when everyone is both at home and utterly alien in the contemporary American west. A terrific read.”

And Eleanor Henderson raves

“Nina McConigley crafts out of the Wyoming landscape a West few readers have known before–a place where, when you don’t look like everyone else, there aren’t many places to hide. And yet anyone who has ever felt a complicated kind of love for home, country, and family will find pleasure and wisdom in these stunning stories.”

Monologue topics: Valentine's Day, hatred of holidays, Presidents Day, love.

Feb 12, 2014

Aubrey Hirsch is the guest. Her story collection, Why We Never Talk About Sugar, is now available from Braddock Avenue Books.

Matt Bell says

"In Why We Never Talk About Sugar, Aubrey Hirsch posits an uncertain world, offering us her characters at their most confused, frightened, obsessed. As protection against their troubles, these men and women cling often to science, and also to story and if these two ways of seeing cannot always save them, then still they might provide some comfort, some necessary and sustaining faith, the mechanisms of what greatest mysteries might await us all, when all else is stripped away."

And Roxane Gay says

"Aubrey Hirsch is a bright shining star of a writer and the stories in her flawless debut collection, Why We Never Talk About Sugar, are a little disturbing and a little strange and a little sweet but always a lot to hold on to. Hirsch shows us the charm of her imagination and how carefully she will break your heart. This is a book you will keep coming back to, the one you won t be able to stop talking about because it's that damn good."

Monologue topics: mail, congratulating myself, Elizabeth Ellen, Fast Machine

Feb 9, 2014

Chris Parris-Lamb is the guest. He is a literary agent at The Gernert Company in New York City. His clients include Chad Harbach (The Art of Fielding) and Garth Risk Hallberg (City on Fire). 

The New York Observer says

"Mr. Parris-Lamb has managed over the past year to sell a tall stack of books by first-time authors, some of them for money that would please even the most seasoned veterans."

Also on this episode:  A segment of my conversation with Gina Frangello, author of A Life in Men (Algonquin Books), the official February selection of The TNB Book Club.  To hear the full hour with Gina, simply click here and sign up for Other People Premium.


Monologue topics: insomnia, TED Talks, anger, disgust, tweets.

Feb 6, 2014

Gina Frangello is the guest. Her new novel, A Life in Men, is the official February selection of The TNB Book Club.  It is available now from Algonquin Books.

Booklist raves

“In this bravura performance, a quantum creative leap...Frangello astutely dissects the quandaries of female sexuality, adoption, terminal illness, and compound heartbreak in a torrent of tough-minded observations, audacious candor, and storytelling moxie.”

And Emily Rapp says

“Gina Frangello’s luminous novel is deeply human, darkly funny, seriously sexy; it brims with artistry and intelligence and heart...Frangello illuminates the ways in which life itself is an illusion, but a grand and beautiful and heartbreaking and brilliant one.”

***Note: This is a Premium episode. It is available for Premium subscribers only.

Please sign up for Premium. It costs $2. That's it. Two bucks a month. (Or else you can pay $4.99 for six months of access, or $8.99 for a year.)

You do that, you can listen to Gina's episode—plus you'll have access to the podcast's complete archives. Every single show. 

You can listen online here, or else you can listen while on the go via the free, official Other People app, available now for your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android device. 

Thanks for listening, everybody.

-BL

Feb 5, 2014

Kyle Minor is the guest. His new story collection, Praying Drunk, is now available from Sarabande Books.

Publishers Weekly raves

"Similar to a great magic trick, the 13 stories in Minor's latest lure reader investment with strong visuals while simultaneously pulling the rug out from underfoot with clever, literary sleights-of-hand. Though not necessarily linked in the traditional sense, there is a sequential order to the collection--ideas, locations, incidents, and characters echo as the volume chugs forward--and the result is an often dazzling, emotional, funny, captivating puzzle." 

And Kirkus, in a starred review, says

“An award-winning short fiction author offers twelve stories so ripe with realism as to suggest a roman à clef. . . . This brilliant collection unfolds around a fractured narrative of faith and friends and family, loved and lost.”

Monologue topics: mail, co-branding, the inevitability of co-branding, Katy Perry, Rihanna, the virtue of unskillful co-branding.

Feb 2, 2014

Bill Cotter is the guest. His new novel, The Parallel Apartments, is now available from McSweeney's. 

Heidi Julavits says

"Reading Bill Cotter's The Parallel Apartments is like taking some kind of word drug, but a new one, synthesized in a desert lab from molecules of Lipsyte, Dickens, Pynchon, Williams, Chabon, DeWitt, and Joyce, and then spun together with Cotter's own unique particles to yield a book that produces an actual high when read. There's micro-attention paid to sweatpants material and the feel of artificial cheese powder on fingertips and the bouillon smell of nether regions. There is sadness. There is loneliness. There are riffs that make me wish an actor were there to read to me aloud, so I could cry from laughter without needing to clearly see the page. This book is an experience—it is a never-read-anything-like-it-before work of brainy, heartfelt joy."

And Texas Monthly calls it

"Funny and profane and more than slightly unhinged."

Monologue topics: Super Bowl, barbarism, 1970s sitcoms, audio gags, the app.

Jan 29, 2014

Matthew Specktor is the guest. His novel, American Dream Machine, is now available from Tin House.

Mona Simpson says

"Joan Didion prophesied this novel. In an essay called 'Los Angeles Days,' published in 1992 in After Henry, she wrote that 'Californians until recently spoke of the United States beyond Colorado as 'back east'. If they went to New York, they went 'back' to New York, a way of speaking that carried with it the suggestion of living on a distant frontier. Calfiornians of my daughter's generation speak of going 'Out' to New York, a meaningful shift in the perception of one's place in the world.' Specktor's American Dream Machine may be first literature I've read in which Los Angeles is assumed as London is assumed by Dickens and Paris by Proust and New York by a host of twentieth century American writers. There is nothing ironic, ambivalent, or apologetic about Specktor's relationship to Los Angeles—as it is and was, as myth and as a thriving capitol city. Los Angeles provides an animate pulse under the lives of these men and boys, a source of permanence that lends their struggles gravity and monument."

And David Shields raves

"American Dream Machine is the definitive new Hollywood novel. The tone, the pace, the details—everything is just amazingly right. The whole book is charged with the kind of necessity I almost never see in novels anymore. Thrilling."

Monologue topics: being boring, doing things, my neighborhood, my neighbors, Jamon, listener voicemail.

Jan 26, 2014

Michael J. Seidlinger is the guest. He is the book reviews editor for Electric Literature and the founder of an independent press called Civil Coping Mechanisms. His latest novel is The Laughter of Strangers, and it is available now from Lazy Fascist Press.

The Los Angeles Times says

"The Laughter of Strangers delivers a combination of psychological horror and strangeness that would not be out of place in a David Lynch film. Seidlinger's weird new fight fiction suggests that perhaps the best place for boxing contests isn't in the ring but between the pages of a book."

And Flavorwire raves

"Michael J. Seidlinger has given us the boxing novel of the year. The Laughter of Strangers is a tough and gritty book that will challenge you page after page, but it is oh so worth it."

Monologue topics: psychological paralysis after reading, chaos, illusion, confusion. 

Jan 22, 2014

Rachel Cantor is the guest. Her debut novel, A Highly Unlikely Scenario, Or, A Neetsa Pizza Employee's Guide to Saving the World.

Library Journal says

"Cantor’s novel will be a great hit for fans of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. There’s a lot going on here, and all of it is amusing."

And Jim Crace says

It’s as if Kurt Vonnegut and Italo Calvino collaborated to write a comic book sci-fi adventure and persuaded Chagall to do the drawings. One of the freshest and mostly lively novels I have encountered for quite a while.” 

Monologue topics: Paris, The Lost Generation, having A Moment, getting huge, Bob Dylan, hindsight, ego. 

Jan 19, 2014

Hilton Als is the guest. His latest book, White Girls, is now available from McSweeney's—and it has just been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.

Junot Díaz raves

"I read Als not only because he is utterly extraordinary, which he is, but for the reason one is often drawn to the best writers—because one has a sense that one’s life might depend on them. White Girls is a book, a dream, an enemy, a friend, and, yes, the read of the year."

And John Jeremiah Sullivan says

"Hilton Als’s White Girls...is a leap forward not merely for Als as a writer but for the peculiar American genre of culture-crit-as-autobiography. Its bravery lies in a set refusal to allow itself all sorts of illusions—about race, about sex, about American art—and the subtlety of its thinking is wedded maypole-fashion to a real confessional lyricism [...] Als taught me that I have a lot of white girl in me, too, and so does he. And so do you, is where it gets interesting. If you think that sounds like another blurb-job or post-postmodern twaddle, I defy you to read this book and come away with a mind unchanged."

Monologue topics: drought, fire, climate change, the (likely) dystopian future, Finland.

Jan 16, 2014

Gloria Harrison is the guest. She is a writer and a longtime contributor to The Nervous Breakdown, and in May of 2013 she was featured on This American Life, Episode 494.

***Note: This is a Premium episode. It is available for Premium subscribers only.

Please sign up for Premium. It costs $2. That's it. Two bucks a month. (Or else you can pay $4.99 for six months of access, or $8.99 for a year.)

You do that, you can listen to Gloria's episode—plus you'll have access to the podcast's complete archives. Every single show. 

You can listen online here, or else you can listen while on the go via the free, official Other People app, available now for your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android device. 

Okay? Okay.

Thanks for listening, everybody.

-BL

Jan 15, 2014

Jennifer Percy is the guest. Her new book, Demon Camp, is available from Scribner.  It is the official January selection of The TNB Book Club.

Dexter Filkins, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, calls it

...a tale so extraordinary that at times it seems conjured from a dream; as it unfolds it’s not just Caleb Daniels that comes into focus, but America, too. Jennifer Percy has orchestrated a great narrative about redemption, loss and hope.”

And Esquire magazine calls it

“A powerful debut and a haunting portrait of PTSD, and the effects of war on the psyches of the soldiers who fight and the extreme lengths they'll go to to find relief and heal."

 
Monologue topics: war, peace, humanity, pacifism, confusion. 

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