Ryan O'Connell is the guest. His new memoir, I'm Special, is available now from Simon & Schuster.
This one was easy. It's always great when a guest is funny and forthcoming, and Ryan is both of these things in spades. His new book deals with, among other things, his experiences with cerebral palsy, homosexuality, addiction, and more—all or most of it delivered with dark humor.
In addition to book stuff, Ryan has written for Awkward and is also working on getting I'm Special adapted for television with executive producer Jim Parsons. He's got a lot going on and has achieved an unusual amount of success for someone so young. Fun to catch him now, as his star is on the rise.
In the monologue I talk about existential stuff related to the impending birth of my second child. I also talk about death, which came up recently in an impromptu question-and-answer session with my 4-year-old daughter. She's starting to wrap her head around some stuff, namely the reality of having a baby brother and what it means to get older and, well, eventually die. I fielded her questions, or tried to.
Hope you enjoy.
Shanna Mahin is the guest. Her debut novel Oh! You Pretty Things is available now from Dutton.
Shanna has lived quite a life. Been through a lot. And has managed to emerge from very tough circumstances with her sense of humor intact. And now she's written a novel. I'm always heartened by this kind of alchemy. It's heroic, I think, when people are able to make art from life, particularly when the life in question has been difficult.
In the monologue I talk about my day. In addition to producing Shanna's episode, I also recorded an interview (forthcoming) with an author who shall remain unnamed (just to keep you in suspense). Shortly before the interview started, my wife, Kari, informed me that she was going to the doctor because she was having contractions—probably Braxton Hicks contractions (which are sorta like "false alarm" contractions that don't signify labor)—but she wanted to be sure. So I conducted the interview with my phone on silent, looking down every five minutes, checking to see if Kari was texting me to tell me she was going into labor, and also there was a wasp in the garage that was buzzing around, threatening both me and my guest.
You'll see what I mean. I explain it all, or try to. It's been a long day. It's hot here, and it's hot as hell in the garage when I record. I'm dehydrated.
Mat Johnson is today's guest. His new novel Loving Day is available now from Spiegel & Grau.
Very happy to have had the chance to talk with Mat, particularly at this moment in his career, with Loving Day just featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review and enthusiasm for his work seeming to reach new heights after the big success of his previous novel, Pym.
As I mentioned in a recent episode, I'm making the shift to in-person interviews only (better sound quality, etc) and was lucky enough to catch Mat as he swung through town. We talked about a variety of things, among them early failures, depression and humility, false summits and false nadirs, work ethic, liberation from expectation, how he deals with book reviews (good and bad and in between), police violence, race, identity, and more.
I also took a few minutes to interview my four-year-old daughter during today's monologue. As many of you know, I've checked in with her periodically over the past several months, as my wife has gotten increasingly pregnant and the arrival of our second child (a boy) has grown imminent. As we're now into mid-June and the official due date is August 2nd, shit is getting real, and preparations are starting to ramp up: crib assembly, closet organizing, and so on.
And I'll be honest, there's also a sense of dread when it comes to sleep. I'm not a great sleeper to begin with, but in the coming months it's gonna be particularly intense. Sorta girding myself for that. And in a way I feel fascinated about what it will mean for the podcast. Which is to say: it's one thing to put yourself on the microphone in your normal, disheveled state; it's another thing entirely to do it in a state of maximal newborn sleep deprivation. But of course I will try.
And thanks, as always, for listening.
Colin Winnette is the guest. His new novel, Haints Stay, is available now from Two Dollar Radio.
Had a great time talking with Colin. He came over and sat down across from me and we got into all kinds of things, among them drugs, which seems to be a recurring topic of conversation on the podcast. I'm confused, I suppose, about drugs, which would explain the interest/recurrence, and in today's monologue I talk about that confusion. What to make of drugs, finally? Good? Bad? Useful? Therapeutic? Spiritual? All of the above? Hallucinogens in particular seem to present real value and possibility. But of course there are the downsides.
It's hard as a parent who wants to be an honest broker to know precisely how to feel and communicate about these things. So maybe the podcast is functioning as a kind of dress rehearsal. Eventually I'll figure out my lines, and then when my kids are, like, fifteen, I'll attempt to deliver them and my kids, in keeping with tradition, will ignore me.
Anyway. A good talk with Colin Winnette. His novel, Haints Stay, is out there now from Two Dollar Radio. Go get it.
Oh—I also read some mail in the monologue. Haven't done that in a bit. Thanks, as always, for the letters. If you wanna send word, the address is letters [at] otherppl [dot] com.
Kate Durbin is the guest. She is a writer, curator, and performance artist whose books include The Ravenous Audience and E! Entertainment.
Kate also happens to be a huge fan of Disneyland. We talk about that. She grew up in Southern California. Loves it. Is unapologetic about loving it. We talk about that, too. What else? We talk about our shared love of Gwen Stefani. We talk about religion, family stuff, love, marriage, divorce. We get into things.
Monologue topics: airplanes. Mostly I talk about my trip to Louisiana and my return flight home and I try to build a morality tale out of something that happened in the lavatory. It's unnecessary.