A little late getting to this one, considering that Harriet was the August pick for the book club, but as most of you know, my new policy is to only do in-person interviews, so I waited for Johnny to get down here on tour, and then he came over and sat down and we talked. Always great to see Mr. Evison. Known him for a long time. We met on Myspace years ago. True story. And we've been buddies ever since. Johnny is one of those writers who can really do the work. He's prolific and yet the quality is so high. Every time I look up, I feel like he's got another novel coming out. (And here I should mention that his last one, Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, has been adapted for the silver screen, starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez, and should be out in theaters before too long. Stay tuned.) And what else? I think you're gonna like this one. I know I always say that, but with this one I really mean it. I had a good time talking with Johnny Evison. We haven't seen each other in a while and this was our chance to catch up and there's just an essential goodness to him that always comes through, both in art and in life.
In today's monologue I somehow start talking about Janis Joplin and how a certain Janis Joplin moment encapsulates my inner world when I'm deep in the throes of sleep deprivation. I also talk briefly about the recent blood moon.
Bill Clegg is the guest. His debut novel, Did You Ever Have a Family?, is available now from Scout Press. It has been long-listed for both the Man Booker Award and National Book Award.
Bill and I talked on the hottest day of the year in LA, or one of the hottest days of the year. It was sweltering in the garage and it had rained the night before (odd), which made it humid, which made the heat worse. Plus, we did the interview at four in the afternoon, the hottest time of the day. So it was hot. And Bill, bless him, arrived at my door after a day of media and travel and was, despite the heat and fatigue, completely game and willing to sit there and field my questions for an hour. We had a great conversation in spite of it all.
Not much of a monologue today. I just get to the main event. I do, however, get more expansive than usual at the tail end of the show. Stay tuned.
Carmiel and I talked about Los Angeles and New York and Judaism and her dad. We also talked about Portland; she grew up in Portland (Oregon). Of particular interest to me was the fact that she lived on the road, housesitting and working odd jobs for (if I recall correctly) four years. She wrote much of Claire Bishop during this time. A very admirable resourcefulness. And quiet tenacity. I think writers have to be tenacious. And disciplined. Carmiel is also a meditator. She does TM. We talked about that, too. A regular writing practice and a regular meditation practice: they seem of a piece. You have to be willing to sit down and sit still and be quiet and watch your thoughts. You have to be disciplined. You have to be quietly tenacious.
In the monologue, I talk about being up all night with my eight-week-old son, and how recently, after a 2 a.m. feeding, rather than fall back asleep, he stayed awake and stared at me for two solid hours. My point, if there is one, is that it's weird to have someone, anyone, even your own infant child, stare at you for that long in the middle of the night. Especially when conversation isn't possible.
Jennifer Pashley is the guest. Her debut novel The Scamp is available now from Tin House Books.
Jennifer and I had a mix-up on time. She thought we were scheduled for a different day. She also had a migraine headache. She got into an Uber with a migraine and raced across Los Angeles to be here. Shanna Mahin (my guest in Episode 365) was with her. I had to be somewhere in an hour. We were up against the clock but we got it done. Jennifer is from New York state and is one of the rare people I've met who has lived in the same place for her entire life. Maybe it's not that rare. It seems rare to me. I live in Los Angeles and most people in Los Angeles seem to have come here from somewhere else, or else they left at some point and then came back. I do know a few Los Angelenos who never left. I'm not denigrating that choice, by the way. I envy it. I envy people who have a real sense of place. But I'm sure there are downsides to it, too. The grass is always greener, and so on. Anyway, it was great fun talking with Jennifer, migraine headache and all.
My monologue is about time and sleep-deprivation, the two main themes of my life right now, and maybe always. I feel like I have a lot to do and lack the time and/or brain power to do it. But of course this is temporary, I think it's temporary. Everything is temporary. It had better be temporary. It's temporary.
Joshua Mohr is the guest. His new novel, All This Life, is available now from Soft Skull Press.
This is, I think, the third time I've talked to Josh on the program. The first time we did a full hour and the second time we did a few minutes at the top of a show and now we've done another hour. Always great talking with him. Some writers are good writers and bad talkers and some writers are bad writers and good talkers and other writers are good writers and good talkers. Joshua Mohr is a good writer and a good talker. Actually, I think a lot of writers are good talkers. I think communication is communication, and if a person has a facility for the written word they're often good to talk with as well. But not always. Which is fine. I'm just saying. Anyway. Great talking with Joshua Mohr and great to see his new novel get the kind of glowing reviews that it's been getting. Well-deserved and then some. Mr. Mohr fights the good fight.
In the monologue, I read some more mail. One letter comes from an angry listener stepping up to defend me, and another comes from a listener who just saw the new movie The End of the Tour about the late-great David Foster Wallace.