Michael Earl Craig is the guest. His latest book, Talkativeness, is available now from Wave Books.
Publishers Weekly says
"Craig renders unsettling dreams and quotidian clutter with sparse language and a quiet, distant voice to conjure poems brimming with the bizarre. His knack for the disturbing materializes in images from Dick Cheney being wheeled in á la Dr. Strangelove to President Obama's inauguration, to a husband and wife witnessing 'dark turkeys' encroaching on their property, to a speaker declaring his penchant for vocational talent: 'I have just very carefully cut/ my best friend's wife's bangs.' Even the lighter elements of the book seem a bit foul, such as the quick cameo of Death from Ingmar Bergman's Seventh Seal. This is the work of a writer who lives 'in an experimental town' where the 17 on-duty cops can only say, 'That's the way the cookie crumbles.' If it's the qualities of the macabre that lure the reader in, then it's our inability to look away from the grotesque that drive us to continue reading. That inability to turn back, much like the advice Craig offers about catching horses, is what remains at the end of this read: 'you can't fake looking away, horses/ know when you are doing this./ You have to really look away./ Some horsemen never come out of this.'"
Monologue topics: re-reading, Hunter S. Thompson, The Razor's Edge, my bad memory, melatonin, nightmares, fear, superstition.
The Los Angeles Times calls it
"[A] masterpiece of desperation, delusion and misdeeds.... Ruland...brilliantly taps the fundamental irony of casinos.... A satisfying read."
And Jerry Stahl says
"...[Forest of Fortune] captures the soul and voice of hard-luck, hard-living Americans in a way that conjures up earlier masters like Raymond Carver and Richard Ford. Jim Ruland has an uncanny ability to get inside his characters...."
Monologue topics: National Geographic, Going Deep, David Rees, Otherppl Premium, dive bars, disillusionment, fetishizing filth.
Joshua Wolf Shenk is the guest. His new book, Powers of Two, is now available from Eamon Dolan Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Andrew Solomon says
"In this surprising, compelling, deeply felt book, Joshua Wolf Shenk banishes the idea of solitary genius by demonstrating that our richest art and science come from collaboration: we need one another not only for love, but also for thinking and imagining and growing and being."
And Susan Orlean says
"This is a book about magic; about the Beatles; about the chemistry between people; about neuroscience; and about the buddy system; it examines love and hate, harmony and dissonance, and everything in between. The result is wise, funny, surprising, and completely engrossing."
Monologue: solitude, individualism, hubris, needing people.
Chris Kraus says
"The sometime-narrator of Kill Manual anastasiasteele3577 haunts chat rooms and BDSM dating sites in search of oblivion. But oblivion hardly needs to be searched for: It’s already there. This disturbing and radical book reveals, among other things, the half-life left in the wake of ubiquitous, data-mined, robotically fabricated internet content. The world ends in exhaustion. Troyan’s piercingly felt, sampled text probes the immateriality of language. Her work is brilliant and brave."
And Megan Milks says
"This book beats with a steady intensity that is equal parts hot and terrifying; its words are sticky emissions, or fists in the flesh of the eyeball. With a voice both chillingly disembodied and viscerally corporeal, cut with mordant wit, Kill Manual moans, snarls, and laughs, harshly. Riveted by shame, refusing any boundary between pleasure and disgust, with these poems Cassandra Troyan orchestrates a fever march towards negation: 'You are not allowed to call this radical.'"
Monologue topics: sleeplessness, My Little Pony, lying, unicorns.
Austin Kleon is the guest. He is the bestselling author of the books Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work!. Both are available from Workman Publishing.
“Some people are natural self-promoters. For others, it’s painfully difficult to put their work out there. In this creatively designed pocket-sized book, Kleon offers the latter group effective strategies that allow them to share their work without leaving their comfort zone…. Kleon’s advice is sassy and spot-on.”
And The Atlantic says
"Austin Kleon is positively one of the most interesting people on the Internet... Kleon makes an articulate and compelling case for combinatorial creativity and the role of remix in the idea economy."
Monologue topics: creativity, block, doing the work, privilege, fun.
Tim O'Connell is the guest. He is an editor at Vintage, Anchor, Knopf, and Pantheon.
Monologue topics: death, the old man who died, DMT, Tao Lin, Terence McKenna, psychedelic crocodiles who want to rape me, machine elves, fear.
Publishers Weekly calls it
"Powerful… Almond is drawing on his own experiences as a fan to illustrate how difficult the problem, which provides the book with an engaging personal angle that will lure readers who are mature enough to hear him out whether they agree with his conclusions… An important read, even if as Almond concedes, it offers more questions than answers."
And Kirkus Reviews says
“A provocative, thoughtful examination of an ’astonishingly brutal’ sport… Comic, compassionate and thought-provoking.”
Monologue topics: football, fandom, non-fans, football as a lens through which to view the wider culture.
"Jones demonstrates a tightrope-like eye for finagling between Pynchon-esque quasi-science-fictional feels and the books' physics, allowing almost anything to happen at any time, wrapped in a Wallace-like grip of childlike awe. The result is a novel that, paragraph to paragraph, is alive with imagination. Crystal Eaters is the rarest of kinds of objects, one that replenishes its readers' crystal counts by simply being read."
And The Millions says
"Crystal Eaters is splattered with Technicolor crystal vomit and eye goo, with bodies leaking red, yellow, and blue; the sun wants to swallow the earth; and the indestructible city encroaches on the country like kudzu. This crystal mining country is Jones’s own Yoknapatawpha County, a town with its own peculiar inhabitants and notions and schemes (such as a prison break in reverse). These fantastical trappings give way to deeper questions — about death, the nature of life, of what it takes to be remembered after you die."
Monologue topics: mail, emotionally satisfying mail.
Aimee Bender is the guest. She is the bestselling author of several books, including The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, and The Color Master.
The LA Times says
"Bender’s work has never been the stuff of manic pixie dream-girl lit. Her fairy tales are dark and wicked, not hipster-precious and faux old-timey. Her sorcery altogether avoids the saccharine, and the thrills and chills of this sometimes sexual, often horror-drenched collection are completely adult. At a time when realism reigns supreme over the literary landscape, one can argue it is absolutely imperative that Aimee Bender be spotlighted for what she is: a vital MVP of modern letters, period…In our world of flash-and-trash insta-Internet-oddities and stranger-than-fiction social-media-bloopers, she will have surpassed the simple feat of inventiveness to own a most dazzlingly urgent relevancy."
And The Wall Street Journal says
“The fairy-tale elements in her writing, far from seeming outlandish, highlight the everyday nature of her characters’ flaws and struggles. In Ms. Bender’s stories and novels, relationships and mundane activities take on mythic qualities.”
Monologue topics: Episode 300, thank you.