Anna Stothard is the guest. Her novel The Pink Hotel is now available in the United States from Picador. And her latest effort, a novel called The Art of Leaving, is just out in the UK from Alma Books.
The New York Times calls The Pink Hotel
“Stylish… captures an outsider’s gape at sun-drenched Los Angeles.”
And Davy Rothbart raves
"The Pink Hotel is mysterious, lyrical, and utterly absorbing, by turns funny and forlorn. [Stothard's] writing bristles with sexiness and suspense, love, loss, and longing. This is the best book I’ve read in years.”
Monologue topics: stopping, vistas, nature, personal space, park benches, eating on airplanes, Reese Witherspoon.
HTML Giant says:
"There is nothing on the back cover. A wall of black staring at you. No pull quotes or blurbs, and by the second page you realize why: because the book speaks for itself....I read this tiny book in one sitting in a coffee shop amazed by its power and had to go indoors to drown out the outside world to reread it and devour it properly....Early frontrunner for best book I’ve read this year, certainly the most memorable. I can’t remember reading anything quite like Solip....Solip is a twitter account from hell, a deranged patient babbling on a shrink’s couch....Concise yet brimming with ideas and thoughts and lists and fragments and run-ons and then it’s over and you’re left wondering what the fuck happened."
Monologue topics: fiction, nonfiction, my novel, paralysis, creative quandaries, Errol Morris, Baltimore, The Black Guerilla Family, prison corruption.
The library was recently featured in the New York Times:
"Matt Nelson, a graduate student in creative writing at Queens College and one of the library’s two founders, explained the origins of the place, which is meant to serve as a reading room and gathering spot in addition to book lender. Mr. Nelson and Jacob Perkins, both 26, started the library in February, inspired in part by Pilot Books, a bookstore in Mr. Nelson’s hometown, Seattle, that carried volumes by independent publishers, and which closed in 2011.
"Mellow Pages also specializes in those more arcane titles. Without the advertising budgets of major houses, the smaller presses have more difficulty finding readers, Mr. Nelson said, and the idea behind the library was to form a community of people who could share books that were not easy to find elsewhere."
Monologue topics: voicemails, Spencer Madsen, Skype, my voice, cheese, New York City.
Cheryl Strayed says
"The Still Point of the Turning World is about the smallest things and the biggest things, the ugliest things and the most beautiful things, the darkest things and the brightest things, but most of all it’s about one very important thing: the way a woman loves a boy who will soon die. Emily Rapp didn’t want to tell us this story. She had to. That necessity is evident in every word of this intelligent, ferocious, grace-filled, gritty, astonishing starlight of a book."
And Kirkus, in a starred review, calls it
"A beautiful, searing exploration of the landscape of grief and a profound meditation on the meaning of life."
Monologue topics: wedding, Chicago, sobriety, alcohol, 5-Hour Energy, Tay-Sachs, NTSAD.org
The Daily Beast says
"[Maazel] has a real talent for taking these existential millstones of modern life—fear of death, failure, being alone, everything—and filtering them into morbidly funny, troublingly familiar forms. . . . Woke Up Lonely easily refutes the idea that the novel is a staid, obsolete form of writing. The stakes in Maazel's book are at least as real as any work of nonfiction, and it's a good deal more fun to read than any manifesto."
And Bookforum raves
"Woke Up Lonely is another wunderkammer, a deeply felt and wildly original novel that repays the attention it demands, and once read won't be soon forgotten."
Monologue topics: having nothing to say, saying something anyway, to-do lists, talking about writing, my dogs, dog baths.
Kirkus calls it
"Eloquent and universal."
And The Portland Mercury says
"It’s unusual to read a memoir built of short stories, but it works—instead of forcing a narrative arc onto his own life, as so many memoir writers do, Nadelson simply places these stories next to one another, allowing their edges to overlap, tugging the reader forward and backward in time. The results are funny, quietly compelling, and unflinchingly frank. Nadelson has built a golem out of paper and typeface."
Monologue topics: my little sister's wedding, peer pressure, alcohol, the Cajun element.
The New York Times raves
"A voice as fresh as hers is so rare that at times I caught myself cheering. . . .I’d go anywhere with this writer."
And The Boston Globe says
"So fresh, original, and funny you’ll be in awe… Tupelo Hassman has created a character you’ll never forget. Rory Dawn Hendrix of the Calle has as precocious and endearing a voice as Holden Caulfield of Central Park.”
Monologue topics: the Internet, Fiona Apple, going crazy, the world is bullshit.
Cheryl Strayed says
"Roberge’s writing is both drop-dead gorgeous and mindbendingly smart. The Cost of Living is an intimate, original, important novel that I’ll be recommending for years to come."
And Scott Shriner, bass player for Weezer, says
"This is a guy who clearly knows his way around a tour bus. And around a massive drug habit. A dark, funny, frightening, and above all authentic book about the toll the rock and roll lifestyle can take."
Monologue topics: Boston, terrorism, tragedy, talking about speechlessness, confusion, darkness, realism, pragmatism, idealism.
"A brilliant collection of essays on modern life, and ways that technology and connectivity are changing how we interact with the world....As Orange brilliantly breaks down the state of modern life and how it stands in relation to technology and the commoditized image, she tells us much of what we already have intuited, but might have been afraid to admit to ourselves...."
And Publishers Weekly raves
"In this whip-smart, achingly funny collection, film critic Orange (The Sicily Papers) trains her lens on aging, self-image, and the ascendancy of the marketing demographic, among other puzzles of the Facebook generation....[this is] a collection whose voice feels at once fresh and inevitable."
Monologue topics: TNB Literary Experience, tweets.
About The Freak Chronicles, bestselling author Lauren Groff says
"The Freak Chronicles is a miracle of a story collection: passionately political and a shout of ambivalence about political passion, intensely personal and furiously global. We readers are lucky to find Jennifer Spiegel, a writer who is self-satirizing and vulnerable and elegant as hell."
About Love Slave, Publishers Weekly says
"Spiegel's novel evokes the psychic angst of Manhattanites presumptuous enough to describe themselves as struggling artistes, yet entitled enough to melt down when they can't order breakfast in a diner after 11am...the writing is fresh and witty, and Sybil is a sympathetic character worthy of rooting for as she searches for something to believe in."
Monologue topics: the gym, stress, running, the woman with magazines, stopping, Lawn Day.
Karen Russell raves
“What a kinetic, joyful, gonzo ride—Double Feature made me laugh so loudly on a plane that I had to describe the plot of Sam's Spruce Moose of a debut film (it stars a satyr) to my seatmate by way of explanation. Booth and Sam are an unforgettable Oedipal duo. A book that delivers walloping pleasures to its lucky readers.”
And Larry McMurtry says
“Double Feature is a beautiful, wrenching beginning, and Owen King is a young writer of immense promise.”
Monologue topics: listener feedback, overdoing gender politics, Bad Sex in Fiction Award.
Jennifer Egan says
"In Schroder, Amity Gaige explores the rich, murky realm where parental devotion edges into mania, and logic crabwalks into crime. This offbeat, exquisitely written novel showcases a fresh, forceful young voice in American letters."
And Jonathan Franzen raves
"The measure of Gaige's great gifts as a storyteller is that she persuades you to believe in a situation that shouldn't be believable, and to love a narrator who shouldn’t be lovable. Seldom has such a daring concept for a novel been grounded in such an appealing character."
Monologue topics: Amazon, Goodreads, indepenent presses, small furry animals, extinction, predators, apathy, confusion.
Periel Aschenbrand is the guest. She is the author of two memoirs, the latest of which is called On My Knees. It is available now for pre-order and will be published by Harper Perennial on June 18, 2013.
Jonathan Ames raves
"Ribald, outrageous, gutter-mouthed, hilarious—a startling new voice in American letters. Watch out Portnoy, watch out Caulfield, watch out Bukowski, watch out E. L. James. Hell, everybody, real or imagined, just watch out! Because here comes Periel Aschenbrand!”
And The New York Times calls her
"Unsavorily compelling. . .in the manner of a female Howard Stern.”
Monologue topics: insomnia, nightmares, pool bars, sushi, low tide, sleep apnea, Buddhism, pity.
Giancarlo DiTrapano is the guest. He's the editor of NY Tyrant magazine and the publisher of Tyrant Books, an independent press based in New York City.
His authors include Brian Evensen, Blake Butler, Eugene Marten, and Michael Kimball. And later this year, in June, he'll be publishing Marie Calloway's debut novel, what purpose did i serve in your life.
Sheila Heti says
"I have never read a book like this before. It’s painful, shocking and brilliantly written, with a great sensitivity to which details should be revealed and which should stay concealed. It’s formally complex, completely unforgettable, highly contemporary and plainly great. A terrifying proposal: could this be the Great American Novel for the twilight of “Great” America?"
Monologue topics: nudity, Lena Dunham, streaking, sports, IMAX.
Marilynne Robinson raves
"With unflinching wit, Amber Dermont examines the harsh vicissitudes of life, and though the worlds she creates are often unsettling places, her sense of detail always makes for a pleasurable read. There is a vibrant lucidity to her language, a daring music."
And Kirkus says
"Dermont’s short story collection, which follows her debut novel (The Starboard Sea, 2012), demonstrates the author’s versatility and sardonic humor…[She] delivers strong prose and intriguing characters who frequently defy stereotypical ideals…the overall effect is a tight collection that takes the reader in unexpected, often disconcerting, directions. Full of irony and contradictions, this compilation of contemporary short stories is a worthwhile effort."
Monologue topics: walking, Los Angeles, headphones, David Lynch, suffocating rubber clown suit, fire, Ashley Greene.
Grace Krilanovich says
"There’s what people say, and then there’s what they do. The phrase will infect your consciousness, contorting and twisting itself around to take on more and more dimensions. What does it mean to act on our desires when one person’s wish fulfillment means another’s nightmare? What does it mean to be free, or to escape? At its core, This is What We Do gives us two people left with nothing, cutting close to the uncoolness of loving without fear."
And Gina Frangello says
"Hansen's debut novel covers even wilder, trickier ground than his memoir, American Junkie. Anti-hero James Nethery seems an ordinary, lonely man drinking Coke at the bar, until he meets "Lily," a Ukrainian prostitute, and what began as a quiet, atmospheric meditation on down-and-out expats in Paris explodes into a nonstop, genre-blending noir-crime-vigilante-political-sexy-nihilistic-almost surreal thrill ride, infused in equal measures with brutality and beauty."
Monologue topics: The Nervous Breakdown, TNB 5.0, sleeping at the mall, kid birthday parties, magicians, the end of tweets?
Ayana Mathis is today's guest. Her debut novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was an official selection of Oprah's Book Club 2.0 and has since gone on to become a New York Times bestseller. It is available now from Knopf.
Kirkus, in a starred review, calls it
“Cutting, emotional…pure heartbreak…though Mathis has inherited some of Toni Morrison’s poetic intonation, her own prose is appealingly earthbound and plainspoken, and the book’s structure is ingenious…an excellent debut.”
And Marilynne Robinson raves
"The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is a vibrant and compassionate portrait of a family hardened and scattered by circumstance and yet deeply a family. Its language is elegant in its purity and rigor. The characters are full of life, mingled thing that it is, and dignified by the writer’s judicious tenderness towards them. This first novel is a work of rare maturity."
Monologue topics: mail, dinner invitations, IRL.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune calls it
“Profound . . . with more to say on the human condition than most full books. . . . A remarkable collection, with pitch-perfect leaps of imagination.”
And HTML Giant says
“This is transformative prose at its best. . . . If you want an actual contemporary wordsmith who does not just tinker but thrives in the micro-worlds of Calvino and Borges, Walser and Perec, read Understories.”
Monologue topics: AWP, silent judgment, my thing, your thing, feeling peripheral.
Lenore Zion is the guest. She is the author of two books, the first of which, a humor collection called My Dead Pets Are Interesting, was published by TNB Books in 2011. And now her debut novel, Stupid Children, has just been published by Emergency Press.
Necessary Fiction raves
"Stupid Children is a bildungsroman of twisted proportions told with startling clarity through the filter of a smart, psychoanalytic perspective. No character is safe from Zion’s unapologetic examinations. She bestows her protagonist with an open mind, a sharp intellect, and a sweltering imagination—all of the requisite ingredients for a disturbing, fascinating novel."
And Jonathan Evison says
“Stupid Children surprises and dazzles at every turn. You will not forget this book.”
Stupid Children is the March selection of The TNB Book Club, the official book club of The Nervous Breakdown. For only $9.99 a month, you can get a brand new title delivered to your door every 30 days. And all book club authors are interviewed on this program.
Monologue topics: psycho-digital crises, dinner invitations, key parties, manners, overthinking it.
Ben Fountain raves
"Lipsyte expertly works the line between hilarity and pathos."
And Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, says
“In this second story collection, fierce satire mingles with warmth and pathos as Lipsyte (The Ask) showcases his knack for stylistic variety and tangles with the thorny human experiences of moving beyond one’s past or shedding one’s personal baggage . . . Lipsyte’s biting humor suffuses the collection, but it’s his ability to control the relative darkness of each moment that makes the stories so engrossing.”
Monologue topics: mountain rescue, urban heroism, mail, ménage-á-trois clarifications.
Booklist, in a starred review, calls it
"An ensnaring first novel that delves into the complex challenges and anguish of living with and in the shadow of celebrity. Sneed’s wit, curiosity, empathy, and ability to divine the perfect detail propel this psychologically exquisite, superbly realized novel of intriguing, caricature-transcending characters and predicaments…As Sneed illuminates each facet of her percussively choreographed plot via delectably slant disclosures—overheard conversations, snooping, tabloids, confessions under duress, and journal entries, among them—she spotlights ‘little known facts’ about the cost of fame, our erotic obsession with movie-star power, and where joy can be found."
Kenneth Goldsmith says
"This is a sad and powerful book of love poems. Stephanie Barber understands how things are supposed to work and recognizes that they are broken, and NIGHT MOVES is a screenshot for the help desk in the sky. It's a conceptual ode to Internet philosophy, solidifying the transient nature of online conversation."
Monologue topics: ménage-á-trois, third wheels, Darwinian processes, self-awareness.
Bernie Glassman is the guest. He is a pioneer in the American Zen Movement, an accomplished academic and businessman, and the founder of the Zen Peacemakers. His new book, co-authored by Jeff Bridges, is called The Dude and the Zenmaster. A New York Times bestseller, it is available now from Blue Rider Press.
Sheila Heti, writing for the Financial Times, says
“The Dude and the Zen Master [is] a wonderful book of conversations...about acting and Zen and the long, fond relationship between these men.”
And The Dudespaper calls it
“[A] good conversation between good friends...One of the unexpected treats of The Dude and the Zen Master is the insights into who Jeff Bridges is behind the Dude persona...touching remembrances of his parents, his reflections on life as a devoted family man, and his behind-the-scenes stories of movies he’s worked on [and] profound little Zen observations and insights sprinkled throughout the book.”
Monologue topics: Zen, meditation, discipline and lack thereof, losing my shit, my daughter, guilt, the Oscars.
Lesley Arfin is the guest. She was a staff writer on the first two seasons of the hit television show Girls, starring Lena Dunham, and she also writes on the MTV series Awkward. Her book, Dear Diary, is based on a column of the same name that originally appeared in Vice magazine. It was published by Vice Books/MTV Press in 2007.
Sarah Silverman says
“Here’s your chance to have all the benefits of a tortured adolescence without the shitty childhood. Congratulations!”
And Chloe Sevigny says
"What I love about Dear Diary is how strongly it resonates with all girls. We all went through a bitch phase that makes us cringe when we remember it. We tried being good; we tried being bad; we made other girls feel like shit before we knew what it felt like...It seems like the world is ending when you're 17 and in the middle of it, but looking back now I realize that's what adolescence is all about: making mistakes. And that's why I love Dear Diary."
Monologue topics: tweets, mail, alt-lit, Internet literature, Jordan Castro, Mira Gonzalez, Megan Boyle, Sam, women, vaginas, feminism.
Ben Brooks, author of Grow Up, says
“I read these poems three times in one night, then put the duvet over my head and held my knees for a while. It’s good when something makes sense. I really really liked these poems.”
And Chris Killen says
“If you are a person who doesn’t really know what they are doing and you would like to read about another person who doesn’t really know what they are doing either, I recommend reading this poetry book. I enjoyed reading these poems. Or something.”
Monologue topics: Episode 150, premium bonus content, Megan Boyle, Mira Gonzalez, Sam, Skype, festive moods.
Megan, Mira, and Sam were in Tao Lin's apartment in New York City. (Tao was not there; he was out of the country at the time.)
I was here in Los Angeles, in the home office.
Things got interesting.