Other People with Brad Listi
Summary: Brad Listi is the author of a novel called ATTENTION. DEFICIT. DISORDER. and the founder of The Nervous Breakdown, an online culture magazine and literary community. He also runs TNB Books, an independent press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. Here, he offers up in-depth, inappropriate interviews with today's leading authors.
Kris D'Agostino is the guest. He's the author of the debut novel THE SLEEPY HOLLOW FAMILY ALMANAC (Algonquin), which was the March selection for the TNB Book Club. Raves Brock Clarke, author of 'Exley': "A singularly funny, bitter, bold book about what it’s like to resemble people you want badly to be better than. This is a remarkable book about a remarkable family with disturbingly familiar problems." Great to have Kris on the program. Topics of conversation include: film school, New York, The Hunger Games, reading, Boston University, loneliness, Boogie Nights, Dirk Diggler, Paul Thomas Anderson, failure, Dungeons & Dragons, J.R.R. Tolkien, living at home, anxiety, mothers, therapy, break-ups, routines, music, band practice, New School, pre-school, energy, relaxation, Woody Allen, A Separation, cinematic literature, acting, class comics, Italian, public transportation, testing, Children of Men, Never Let Me Go, organ harvesting, coming of age stories, and realist science fiction. Monologue topics: coffee shops, coffee meetings, Larry Charles, social awkwardness, forgiveness, Jesus, and birthday parties.
Matt Bell is the guest. His latest book is a novella called CATACLYSM BABY, now available from Mud Luscious Press. Karen Russell, author of 'Swamplandia!', raves: "In extraordinary language, with deep feeling, Matt Bell has crafted a baby name book for the apocalypse, a gorgeous, brilliant, often darkly hilarious and always moving novella. Written with an ingenuity and joy that call to mind Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, each chapter is a treasure: Here are beast of burden children, larval girls, subterranean daughters and choirs of sirens, combustible baby boys. I loved this book and want to recommend it to every human parent and child I know; if trees, rocks, and stars were literate, I would recommend it to them, too. ‘Where do babies come from?’ children ask their parents, and Cataclysm Baby has an alphabet of answers as beautiful and mysterious as that ancient question, while always posing its haunting corollary: ‘Where do they go?" Topics of conversation include: dissertating, Michigan, kids, parenthood, the Great White North, Canada, family, boredom, storytelling, Lord of the Rings, Bill Murray, repetition, Meatballs, Denis Johnson, Jesus' Son, Louis Ferdinand Celine, groupthink, individualism, time, isolation, travel, Jim Morrison, An American Prayer, bad poetry, midlife crises, exercise, real experience vs. mediated experience, empathy, pregnancy fears, Dzanc, The Collagist, violence, The Man with Two Brains, nudity, Stephen King, The Shining, adolescence, writing rituals, stamina, self-doubt, long periods of uncertainty, validation, learning from the slush pile, and genre vs. literary. Monologue topics: dinner with a friend, leaving the car running, The TNB Literary Experience, and an excerpt from my novel-in-progress. This episode of Other People is brought to you by the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, the largest open-enrollment creative writing and screenwriting program in the nation. For more info, please visit www.uclaextension.edu/writers.
Noah Hawley is the guest. He's the author of several books, the most recent of which is a novel called THE GOOD FATHER, now available from Doubleday. He's also an accomplished writer and producer in film and television. He wrote and produced the television show 'Bones,' and created the shows 'The Unusuals' and 'My Generation.' He also wrote the screenplay for the feature film 'Lies and Alibis.' Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, has this to say about THE GOOD FATHER: "The father of a man who assassinates a presidential candidate tries to make sense of his son’s crime in Hawley’s gripping new novel…With great skill, Hawley renders Dr. Allen’s treacherous emotional geography, from his shock and guilt to his growing sense that he knows far less about his son than he thought…Hawley’s complicated protagonist is a fully fathomed and beautifully realized character whose emotional growth never slows a narrative that races toward a satisfying and touching conclusion." Great to have Noah on the program. Topics of conversation include: San Francisco, screenwriting, pitch meetings, getting to yes, speakerphones, being good in a room, sales, storytelling, segues, humor, efficiency, character, universality, commercial fiction, Mark Leyner, Hollywood, New York, My Generation, cancellation, adversity, fear, risk, conformity, bitterness, industriousness, Austin, ABC, BBC, studios, networks, notes, collaboration, show runners, Mississippi, specificity, break-ins, Stripes, anti-heroes, Bill Murray, age, teaching, exit strategies, fickleness, and selling fruit on the side of the road. Monologue topics: neurotic thinking, second-guessing, elevators, conversation, and micro-expressions of pain. This episode of Other People is brought to you by the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, the largest open-enrollment creative writing and screenwriting program in the nation. For more info, please visit www.uclaextension.edu/writers.
James Bernard Frost is the guest. He's the author of the novel A VERY MINOR PROPHET, now available from Hawthorne Books. Raves Chuck Palahniuk, author of 'Fight Club': "To date only Gus Van Sant has depicted the grim, dim, greasy, cramped world of Portland, Oregon. Now James Bernard Frost has given us the best novel, ever, about this strange underground world of misfits and heroes." Raves Tom Robbins, author of 'Another Roadside Attraction': "Bucking a headwind of despair, Frost pedals his verbal bicycle into the belly of the Beast, only to return bearing a brand-new Gospel illuminated with Voodoo cream and composed in the edgy vernacular of Portland’s thriving freak scene." A pleasure to have Jim on the show—he's been a contributor at The Nervous Breakdown for the past several years, so it's especially nice to see a book of his make its way into the world. Topics of conversation include: Portland, Oregon, perseverance, George W. Bush, failure, agents, unorthodoxy, zines, hybrids, political outrage, Ayn Rand, self-righteousness, religion, shame, lectures, Catholicism, agnosticism, serendipity, awfulness, creative pain, discipline, perspective, outlining, structure, expertise, readings, quantifying success, marketing, the accuracy of social media, guidebooks, vegetarians, rental cars, dot com boom, food criticism, the impossibility of not writing, fantasy fiction, facilitating, time management, adaptability, screenwriting, and the quest. Monologue topics: Coachella, festivals, public nudity, the 1960s, Woodstock, and Segway bubbles. This episode of Other People is brought to you by the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, the largest open-enrollment creative writing and screenwriting program in the nation. For more info, please visit www.uclaextension.edu/writers.
Heidi Julavits is today's guest. She's the author of four books, the most recent of which is a novel called THE VANISHERS, now available from Doubleday. And she's also the co-editor of The Believer magazine. Here's what The New York Times Book Review has to say about THE VANISHERS: "Darkly comic....sharp-eyed, sardonic, hilarious....Julavits is at her acrobatically linguistic best here. Nearly every page contains a showstopping description or insight...narrative voice is superb. Funny, self-deprecating, exquisitely attuned... Vivid... Remarkable... Heartbreaking." So great to have Heidi on the program. Topics of conversation include: Los Angeles, road trips, Boulder, Dartmouth, ex-boyfriends, balding tires, Choate, fraternities, The Ivy League, Columbia, feminism, children, body image, Harvard, editing, literary power couples, Ben Marcus, reality television, Susan Faludi, Vendela Vida, Dave Eggers, The Believer, emails, womby-watery women's writing, Hillary Clinton, Yoko Ono, lazy-mindedness, women and their mothers, female relationships, psychic attacks, random discovery, the pain of writing novels, when a novel doesn't work, and learning to savor the good moments. Monologue topics: psychic experiences, earthquakes, uteruses, and streetlights.
Rosecrans Baldwin is the guest. He's a co-founder of The Morning News and the author of a new memoir called PARIS, I LOVE YOU BUT YOU'RE BRINGING ME DOWN, available on April 24th from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Kirkus, in a starred review, calls it "great fun and surprisingly touching." Super-fun having Rosecrans on the program. Topics of conversation include: girls with boy names, boys with girl names, the Mayflower, Paris, French military might, French films, Eagle Scouts, books, movies, identity, escape, advertising, Sofia Coppola, Louis Vuitton, fashion crises, OCD, trench coats, hoodies, Bonobos pants, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, Colby, Frank O'Hara, poetry, despair, the Internet, The Morning News, good cheer, novels, consciousness, blogging, zines, book tour, golf shirts, and indie situations. Monologue topics: Paris Hilton, Paris, idiocy, George Whitman, Shakespeare & Company, pigeons, bird shit, luck. This episode of Other People is brought to you by the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, the largest open-enrollment creative writing and screenwriting program in the nation. For more info, please visit www.uclaextension.edu/writers.
Kris Saknussemm is the guest. His latest novel, REVEREND AMERICA, is now available from Dark Coast Press. From Booklist: "Once upon a time, Mathias Gaspenny was a child preacher and faith healer who captivated audiences across the country. Now, much older and wiser, he’s come home to Joplin, Missouri, hoping to live out the remainder of his life in quiet reflection. But a chance meeting with a teenage prostitute sets him on a new and unexpected road, and, as he searches for salvation, he replays his life in memory. REVEREND AMERICA is almost pure character study, the story of Casper, a man we come to know gradually, as the events of his past life constantly change our perceptions of him. At various times funny, bittersweet, tragic, and terrifying, the book and its central character are sympathetic and memorable." And Shelf Awareness, in a starred review, raves: "A picaresque tale of a prodigy albino orphan crisscrossing the country to heal a big tent of weird but heart-warming losers. The best road trip is enlightening and redemptive. REVEREND AMERICA gives us a damn good one." Great to have Kris on the show. Topics of conversation include: mysteries, strangeness, Black Mountain Institute, Las Vegas, bail bonds, hookers, Seattle, Berkeley, preachers, abuse, trauma, gambling, evangelism, Boston W. Smith, 10th Mountain Division, violin, hand injuries, Oberlin College, 1960s California, hippies, counterculture, Esalen, Big Sur, neglect, drugs, alcohol, grand theft auto, breaking and entering, sports, embalming fluid, PCP, Dartmouth, New England, medicine, psychiatric hospitals, house-sitting, parties, badminton, arts grants, scams, manic psychotic breakdowns, sex with strangers, Melbourne, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, divorce, cocaine, advertising, repatriation, Eric Wyatt, and avant-garde theater. Monologue topics: tequila, grocery-shopping, The Flaming Lips, biker chicks, shopping sprees, hydration, and Bank of America.
Amelia Gray is the guest. She's the author of three works of fiction, the most recent of which is a novel called THREATS, now available from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Doug Dorst, author of 'The Surf Guru,' has this to say about Amelia's work: "The first time I encountered Amelia Gray’s fiction, it slugged me in the jaw. The second time too, and the third. Said jaw-slugging has ensued nearly every time I’ve read something of hers, except for when instead it whispered sad and surprising but undeniable truths about the difficulty of intimacy and sense in the wretched blastoscape of modern life. And then it made me a grilled cheese sandwich to prove that the world can be a kind place, and it waited until I had sated myself and wiped away the crumbs before slugging me in the jaw again." Very pleased to have her on the program. Topics of conversation include: social discomfort, small groups, loud bars, scorpions, Tucson, javelinas, North Carolina, Arizona State, palo verde trees, sitting Indian-style, kid games, Nazis, orphans, violin, taking cures, long distance relationships, bathing at the houses of strange men, Greyhound buses, Presbyterianism, superstition, Mandarin, seclusion, Dungeons & Dragons, weightlifting, broken noses, impulsiveness, bad jokes, anal sex, meeting people on the Internet, knife-throwing, social media, Cindy Sheehan, Austin, philosophy, Tempe, Texas State, competitive spirit, writing in public, and creative faces. Monologue topics include: Mega Millions, Warren Buffett, Gandhi, charity, morality, and giving money away stupidly.
Melissa Broder is the guest. Her new poetry collection, entitled MEAT HEART, is now available from Publishing Genius Press. Says Publishers Weekly: "Broder’s second collection cranks up the weird by mining the grotesqueries of her speakers’ relationships with men, god, the self, and food. That these elements often become indistinguishable–as in 'Ciao Manhattan,' where 'It is so god/ When the voice is like wheat// Spooned wheat/ In whole milk'–is evidence of Broder’s talent for showing us our contemporary conflict: god is both a haven from the grotesque and the name we rail against when we aren’t safe from it. But Broder is smarter than to suggest that there are only two sides to this dilemma. Out to 'crucify boredom,' her poems show us how any relationship with the divine is no less at risk of engendering grotesque lust. 'Yesterday the worship rattled like an engine,' she writes, and 'God keeps unfurling me/ with god’s gigantic helium.' What makes Broder such a pleasure on the page is her insistence that these dramas play out on a workaday stage infused with surreal Pop and imaginative muscle. 'When the last Beatle dies,' she tells us in 'Ringo,' 'the president hits a kill switch/ and all our possessions/ drift like eyelashes/ through a crack in the sky.' In Broder’s hands, it’s good to kiss them good-bye." Great to have Melissa on the program. Topics of conversation include: stalking, public relations, poetry, self-identification, nose-picking, oversensitivity, rhyming, Rolling Harvey Down the Hill, publication, insecurity, social media, Legos, non-reality based Tweeting, workaholism, style, Bryn Mawr, addiction, Philadelphia, all-girls schools, puberty, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, self-piercing, shrooming, virginity, Pink Floyd laser light shows, darkness, excesses, mentoring, adrenaline, public speaking, panic, Jack Kerouac, Boulder, San Francisco, and the commodification of New Age spirituality.
Hari Kunzru is the guest. He's the author of four books, the most recent of which is a novel called GODS WITHOUT MEN, now available from Knopf. David Mitchell, author of 'Cloud Atlas,' calls it a "beautifully written echo chamber of a novel." Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, calls it "a pitch-perfect masterwork." Kirkus calls it "an astonishing tour de force." And Marie Arana, writing for the Washington Post, raves: "Kunzru is wise beyond his years, [a] novelist in superb command of his craft. . . . In his dazzling new novel, a desert is the setting, hero and villain. . . . Here is where the walking wounded come to pray to Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, Coyote, the Brothers of Light. Here are cynical veterans from WWII, hard-bitten GIs fresh from Iraq, randy communards, washed-up bankers, wasted groupies. Here is death, sex, and rock-and-roll." So pleased to have Hari on the program. Topics of conversation include: 9/11, the desert, Los Angeles, research, Motel 6, road trips, mirages, nuclear weapons, aliens, skepticism, UFOs, religion, spirituality, ethics, the unknown, meaning, atheism, family, structure, organization, failure, fellowships, New York City, Martin Amis, London, Brooklyn, reviews, nerves, and early success. Monologue topics include: National Geographic, predators, wolves, crocodiles, gazelles, the law of the jungle, dreams, dogs, and the movie idea about the dead man and the dead dog.
Jessica Keener is today's guest. Her debut novel, NIGHT SWIM, is now available from Fiction Studio Books. Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Egan says: "Jessica Keener steps boldly into the terrain of Eugene O'Neill, conjuring up the pathologies and quirks of a besieged Boston family in stark, quivering detail that never entirely distracts us from the looming sense of crisis. This gripping first novel announces the arrival of a strong, distinct and fully evolved new voice." A super-interesting and unexpected conversation. Jessica is delightful. Topics include: Purim, Esther, Haman, Hamantashen, International Women's Day, Russians, Brookline, Boston, bone marrow, aplastic anemia, Karmu, white light, love at first sight, The South, Atlanta, Flannery O'Connor, books, Brown, New York, manners, Emory, self-hypnosis, fear, death, gay nightclubs, wealth, spirituality, the afterlife, writing, out-of-body experiences, Time-Life books, hippies, Woodstock, writing speed, goals and satisfaction. Monologue topics: Walter, raisins, wailing children, veterinarians, medicine, mushrooms, and Queen Latifah.
Catherine Chung is the guest. Her debut novel, FORGOTTEN COUNTRY, is now available from Riverhead Books. Booklist, in a starred review, raves: "Chung’s superb debut examines the twin hearts of cruelty and compassion between sisters in particular and family in general…. This elegantly written, stunningly powerful, simply masterful first novel should earn Chung many fans." And Publishers Weekly, in another starred review, has this to say: "A beautiful debut novel…woven with tender reflections, sharp renderings of isolation, and beautiful prose….Chung simultaneously shines light on the violence of Korean history, the chill of American xenophobia, and the impossibility of home in either country." Very pleased to have Catherine on the program. Topics of conversation include: math, computer science, books clarity, precision, outlining, drafts, finishing, structure, theme, sisters, estrogen, Korea, separation, family, the Korean War, kidnapping, civil war, tragedy, disconnection, immigrant experience, panic, loss, motivation, parents, understanding, Michigan, libraries, academia, Christianity, Buddhism, cruelty, trust, Marilynne Robinson, conversation, childhood, bad things happening, 8th grade, think-tanks, the sales process, and wanting to break your arm. Monologue topics: bullwhips, dancing, Las Vegas, Indiana Jones, Halloween, casinos, writing, misery, multiple-vision POV, TNB's Facebook page, and recurring nightmares.
Jeff Ragsdale is the guest. He's the co-author, along with David Shields and Michael Logan, of JEFF, ONE LONELY GUY. Here's what Bret Easton Ellis, author of AMERICAN PSYCHO, has to say about it: "You can either make fun of JEFF, ONE LONELY GUY (it would be very easy to parody) and reject its self-help earnestness or you can respond as I did: transported by a healing work of art despite (or because of) the enormous amount of pain surging through it. The symphony of voices here is an overwhelming reading experience. This short book is also a verification of a legitimate new form of narrative; it's the definitive document so far of where our medium is heading. I've never read anything like it." A great conversation about a unique and powerful book. Topics include: loneliness, desperation, New York, kindness, the Internet, candor, chaos, Oprah, selfishness, cell phones, demons, Reddit, altruism, abuse, happiness, alcoholism, depression, relationships, suicide, psychology, dating, murder, tragedy, listening, absurdity, phone sex, Washington, responsibility, violence, college, divorce, death, impulse, critical thinking, stand-up comedy, Last Comic Standing, negative energy, Greg Giraldo, collaboration, David Shields, Michael Logan, the godless universe, and literary collage. Monologue topics: literary accidents, helium balloons, Donut Sunday, Alpena, Lake Michigan, DUIs, breathalyzers, web designers, TNB 4.0, mugshots, Richard Branson, and invisible fire.
Sarah Manguso is today's guest. She's the author of the new book THE GUARDIANS: AN ELEGY, now available from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Megan O'Grady, writing for Vogue, says: "Shortly after returning home from a fellowship year in Rome, poet and memoirist Sarah Manguso received word that her old college friend Harris had fled a psychiatric hospital and jumped in front of a train. In The Guardians: An Elegy, the writer explores, in prose that singes with precision and honesty, the many ambiguities surrounding the tragedy . . . A long friendship is a crucial orientation point, and Manguso captures with great delicacy the spinning compass of her grief, and its accompanying jumble of anger, disappointments, corrupted memories—and love." Very pleased to have Sarah on the program to discuss her terrific new book. Topics of conversation include: grief, suicide, friendship, mystery, memory, artifacts, death, Italy, psychosis, therapy, reality, talking dogs, youth, mental illness, crystalline awareness, autoimmune disease, paralysis, funerals, good moods, self-protection, Manhattan, Chambers Street, Brooklyn, Harris's penis, sex, Cambridge, Harvard, chemistry, composers, sex, kindness, temporal remove, attention span, truth, panic, time, and sentimentality. Monologue topics: compression, elevation, frustration, pulverization, tonal dissonance, Giroux, large corporate plushies, child fear, and awkward goodbyes.
Lysley Tenorio is the guest. A winner of the Whiting Writer's Award and a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, he is the author of a debut story collection called MONSTRESS, now available from Ecco. Raves Chang-Rae Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Surrender: The stories in Monstress announce the debut of an electric literary talent. Brilliantly quirky, often moving, always gorgeously told, these are tales of big-hearted misfits who yearn for their authentic selves with extraordinary passion and grace. Bravo for this fabulous American fiction! So pleased to have Lysley on the show. A terrific conversation. Topics include: Philippines, Berkeley, immigrant experience, San Diego, identity, Tagalog, paper without lines, comics, sports, the meanness of kids, foot speed, iPads, technology, Wisconsin, Phillips Exeter, studiousness, college applications, camp, sincerity, pop culture, Ramona the Pest, Shel Silverstein, self-focused fiction, empathy, ethnocentric literature, history, The Horror of the Blood Monsters, science fiction, research, Stegner fellowship, Stanford, San Francisco, diversity, urban dwelling, Roxane Gay, the valor of hardship, goals, and grading essays. Monologue topics include: Rush Limbaugh, Jonathan Franzen, misogyny, Twitter, hatred, social media, apathy, dysfunction, and anger.