Alex Mar is the guest. Her new memoir, Witches of America, is available now from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
Alex showed up in the car of a journalist. She was, I think, fresh from the airport, and a journalist had picked her up and interviewed her on the way to my house. Busy author. She got out of the journalist's car and walked back to my garage and sat down and talked to me for an hour about witches and Paganism and magic and religion and the occult. I often worry, when an author is on an extended tour, doing a ton of media, that I'll catch her in a state of fatigue, that she'll be "all talked out" by the time she gets to me. (This can happen.) Fortunately, this wasn't the case with Alex, who was totally game and has a truly incredible story to tell. I hold journalists, and particularly those who work deep in the field, in the very highest regard. It's a noble line of work. Alex has spent much of the past five years doing just that, and Witches in America is the very fine result.
Today's monologue is (spoiler alert) pretty long. The podcast got a mention in the New York Times this past Sunday, and it meant something to me. I talk about that, and about the origins of this show and the people who inspired me to create it, and so on.
This is Matt's second time on the show. Last we spoke, he was living up in northern Michigan, in Marquette. Since then he's moved to Tempe, Arizona. A big change in all sorts of ways. We start off talking about that, and then we get into Detroit, the setting of Scrapper, and try to wrap our heads around what's happened there and why and what might happen in the future. Detroit, like post-Katrina New Orleans, is something that from a distance can be hard to believe. Not until you're on the ground and looking at it with your own eyes does the scale of it even begin to come into focus. So Matt, with his good brain, has done us all a service by writing this book and imagining this world in such richness and depth. Seems hard to believe, as I've known (or "internet known") him for a long time, but this was the first time Matt and I have ever met in person (our previous interview was conducted over the phone). He was passing through Los Angeles on book tour and was kind enough to stop by to do the show.
In today's monologue I talk about going out to dinner and my failure to do the kinds of cultural things that I should probably be doing. And I talk about Starbucks.
Chris Tarry is the guest. His debut story collection, How to Carry Bigfoot Home, is available now from Red Hen Press.
This one was fun. Chris had flown in the day before from New York and then was up late working—he's a professional bass guitarist—and this, he told me, led to a few drinks, and well, you get the picture. It was nothing too dramatic, but he was dragging a little when he showed up, hadn't slept much, and it's how we got started with the conversation. And from there things just sort of rolled. Easy guy to talk to. And it was nice to meet a writer who is also an honest-to-God professional musician who makes his living playing music. They do exist. But just a few. Almost as rare as Bigfoot. And another thing: Chris is Canadian. Nice to have another Canadian on the program.
In the monologue, I talk about the difficulties inherent in talking about music, and my disdain for the words "jam" and "gig." I've probably talked about this before.
Catie Disabato is the guest. Her debut novel, The Ghost Network, is available now from Melville House.
Catie came over here and sat down in the middle of her workday and talked to me. I always appreciate it when someone with a serious day job makes time to do the show. As you'll hear, she's a Midwestern girl. We have that in common. The Midwest. I feel like I have a certain shorthand with people who were raised in the Midwest. And I feel something similar with people who were raised in the South, as my extended family is from the South and I grew up going down South and so there's a certain comfort level there, a Southern comfort level. What else? Catie went to Oberlin at the same time as Lena Dunham. We talk about that a little. And we talk about bisexuality and bullying, and so on. We had a good conversation. Catie was game. She was delightful. I think you guys are gonna really like hearing from her.
In the monologue today I talk about manic happiness and this woman in my neighborhood who is always, without fail, insanely happy, and how this morning when she saw me she did a karate kick.