Leigh Stein and Lux Alptraum are the guests. They are co-directors, with Jenny Lumet, of a non-profit organization called Out of the Binders. It is devoted to advancing the careers of women and gender non-conforming writers.
Had a great time with Leigh and Lux. It's very impressive what they've built. We sat down in the wake of BinderCon LA and talked about gender politics and community-building and how much work it takes to run a grassroots organization. It's one thing to know about social injustices; it's another thing to do something about them. These guys are doers. And they're helping an awful lot of people.
In today's monologue, I talk about AWP and the LA Times Festival of Books. And I plug my upcoming appearances at Literary Death Match and the Lit/Comedy Roundtable.
Juan F. Thompson is the guest. His new memoir, Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson, is now available from Knopf.
I tore through Juan's book. Read it in like 24 hours. I'm a huge fan of Hunter. He's in my top 5 all-time. I think he's among the funniest writers America has ever produced. I've read most everything he wrote, and I've read about him at length, but up until a few days ago, I knew little about his son, whom I've always wondered about. What was it like to be him?
It can be easy to think that the child of Hunter Thompson would automatically be some kind of savage hell-raiser, but in fact Juan comes off as the opposite. In reading about him lately, the word "monkish" keeps coming up. I wouldn't go that far, but I will say we didn't snort any cocaine during the interview. Nor did we detonate any homemade explosives, which kind of bums me out.
In the monologue, I talk about Hunter. And I read an excerpt of a review of one of his books.
Michelle Adelman is the guest. Her debut novel, Piece of Mind, is available now from W.W. Norton & Company.
Michelle and I have the same birthday (August 1), which we discovered before we started recording. That put us on a good footing right away. I feel predisposed to liking someone who shares my birthday, which probably makes little sense, and yet I suspect it's a common impulse. I should also admit that I may have mispronounced Michelle's last name in this episode. I pronounced it Add-uhl-man. But then at the tail end of the show, in my closing remarks, I pronounced it Aid-uhl-man and spiraled into a rambling crisis of confidence. You have to understand how much I fear this kind of mistake. Fucking something up that is so elemental, mispronouncing a guest's name...it feels egregious to me. Inexcusable. And yet here I am, racing against the clock to get this episode posted, unable to spend the time to verify and, if need be, fix it. I'm out of time. So all I can do is stand before you and admit my failing, assuming that I've failed, which I'm not sure if I have, but if I did: I feel awful about it.
Michelle, please forgive me. Assuming that I need to be forgiven. And if don't need to be forgiven, then please don't forgive me. We share a birthday, for godsake. Doesn't that mean anything?
In today's monologue, I read some mail from listeners. And then respond to it.
Melissa Broder is the guest. Her debut essay collection, So Sad Today, is available now from Grand Central Publishing. She has also written a new poetry collection called Last Sext, due out from Tin House in June.
So much to say about my friend Melissa. I've known her for years. We met back when she was still in New York. Then she and her husband moved to LA, and not long after that she "came out" to me as her Twitter alter-ego, @sosadtoday. You'll hear all about this in the podcast. And you'll hear about how, for the past two years, Melissa and I have been working together as writing partners for film and TV stuff. It's been an experience. It's been fun. It has involved many meetings. Endless meetings. Many studio lots. Many bottles of water. Many coffee shop writing sessions. Many pieces of Nicorette. (Melissa loves Nicorette and has tried to get me addicted. We chew it together after meetings.) And...what else can I say? She's a dear friend and collaborator, and I'm thrilled to see her having such great success.
In today's monologue, a special guest! I talk with Heidi Pitlor, whose novel The Daylight Marriage is now out in trade paperback from Algonquin. The Daylight Marriage is the official March selection of The TNB Book Club.
Adrian Todd Zuniga is the guest. He's the creator and host of Literary Death Match, an international reading series, comedy show, and all-around entertainment.
Note: I will be appearing with Melissa Broder at the April 1st edition at Ace Hotel Theater in Los Angeles during AWP. For tickets, click here.
Nice to finally have Adrian on the show. When I first met him, he was Todd. I've always called him Todd, which he still allows on the basis of a grandfather clause. I've known him for a number of years but didn't know a ton about his life until he came over the other day and sat down across from me. We discussed "Adrian." We discussed "Todd." We discussed "Adrian Todd." He had a hell of a childhood, which I'm not sure he fully realizes. Or maybe it seems less dramatic to him because it's his childhood and he lived it. For me, in hearing about it, I thought: Jesus, that's a lot. It's also interesting. And it makes Literary Death Match make more sense somehow. It makes it seem more unlikely, which then makes it seem more impressive. I have a soft spot for people who conduct cultural experiments and have weird ideas and try to actualize them—and then do. Having pursued a few weird ideas in my day, I have a feel for how much work it is to put on a Death Match. (Hint: it's a fuck-ton.) Todd—sorry, Adrian Todd—has been doing this thing for a decade, largely on his own. Yes, he's had help. But he's the prime mover. It's takes a Herculean amount of effort, and he deserves some credit for that. A tip of the cap as LDM turns 10.
In today's monologue, I talk about LDM Los Angeles on April 1st, and how I'm going to interview someone in public (Melissa Broder) for the second time in my life.
Mark de Silva is the guest. His debut novel, Square Wave, is available now from Two Dollar Radio.
If I recall correctly, Mark's parents dropped him off at my house, which, if true, would make him the first guest in the history of the program to be dropped off by his parents, which is hopefully the start of a trend. (Maybe I should do a series of interviews called "Writers and Their Parents" wherein writers come over with their parents, and we all sit down and talk.) Mark went to Cambridge and got a Ph.D. in Philosophy. I feel like I should tell you that. He grew up in the Inland Empire here in Southern California, the child of psychotherapists. I think I'm remembering that correctly. This conversation took place two or three weeks ago. My life has been crazy since then. My brain is completely shot. I can't remember much. But I do remember laughing a lot during this interview, and feeling like it went really well. So there's that. I hope you guys enjoy it.
In today's monologue, I think I talk about caffeine. And I talk about my barista, a gentle man with a ponytail.