Dan talks to James about his remarkable new collections of plays, PLAYS ONE, and poetry, NEW LIFE, made even more remarkable by Dan’s fight with colon cancer. The afternoon after a clean scan, he and James discuss the illness, young writers, and their shared affinity for not reading reviews. Then, Shuchi Saraswat talks about her excellent essay for Tin House and, as a book buyer for Brookline Booksmith, recommends her favorite summer reads and fall books to look forward to.

Dan O’Brien

Dan and James Discuss:

ILLNESS AS METAPHOR by Susan Sontag

Sewanee Writers’ Conference

Middlebury College

THE VOYAGE OF THE CARCASS by Dan O’Brien (DO)

THE DEAR BOY (DO)

Andra Harbold

Blake Montgomery

School Jacques Lecoq

Vassar College

New York Stage and Film

Williamstown Theatre Festival

Brown University

Jessica St. Clair

Pauline Kael

THE NEW YORKER

INDIANA JONES

THE BODY OF AN AMERICAN (DO)

ICE GHOSTS by Paul Watson

Sam Shepard

Eugene O’Neill Theater Center: National Playwrights Conference

Patti Smith

BREAD LOAF WRITERS’ CONFERENCE

Thomas Mallon

Pinckney Benedict

NEW LIFE: POEMS (DO)

WAR REPORTER (DO)

THE HOUSE IN HYDESVILLE (DO)

THE CHERRY SISTERS REVISITED (DO)

Shuchi and James discuss:

RUNNING IN THE FAMILY by Michael Ondaatje

TIN HOUSE

Emma Komlos-Hrobsky

Teju Cole

John Berger

W.G. Sebald

IN THE SKIN OF A LION by Michael Ondaatje

DIVISADERO by Michael Ondaatje

IN THE DISTANCE by Hernan Diaz

MEEK’S CUTOFF dir by Kelly Reichardt

THE CAT’S TABLE by Michael Ondaatje

THE BURNING GIRL by Clare Messud

SMALL TREASONS by Mark Powell

THE MOUNTAIN by Paul Yoon

HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES by Carmen Maria Machado

Kelly Link

Aimee Bender

Laura van den Berg

Karen Russell

AT NIGHT WE WALK IN CIRCLES by Daniel Alarcon

THE KING IS ALWAYS ABOVE THE PEOPLE by Daniel Alarcon

FIVE-CARAT SOUL by James McBride

THE GOOD LORD BIRD by James McBride

Jeffrey Eugenides

Tom Hanks

Steve Martin

Junot Diaz

Alice Munro

Jim Shepard

Brookline Booksmith

NOBODY IS EVER MISSING by Catherine Lacey

James speaks with the authors of two new story collections, Tim Weed (A FIELD GUIDE TO MURDER & FLY FISHING) and Meghan Kenny (LOVE IS NO SMALL THING). They discuss sequencing their books, what unifies the stories, and what they learned in the writing process. Tim tells James how short stories are like jumping in cold water, and Meghan and James contemplate pulling a Freaky Friday.

Tim Weed

Tim and James Discuss:

National Geographic

Cuba Writers Program

Sir Francis Bacon

Middlebury College

Grub Street, Inc.

Ingmar Bergman

Laura van den Berg

Benjamin Percy

Green Writers Press

John Tiholiz

Grateful Dead

JESUS’ SON by Denis Johnson

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy

William Gay

Paul Bowles

Jim Shepard

The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College

DOG SOLDIERS by Robert Stone

BEAR AND HIS DAUGHTER by Robert Stone

FUN WITH PROBLEMS by Robert Stone

“Helpers” by Robert Stone

THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT FICTION

 

Meghan Kenny

Meghan and James Discuss: 

Tobias Wolff

Richard Ford

Andre Dubus

PJ Mark

Lorrie Moore

Jim Shepard

Alice Munro

W.W. Norton & Company

LSU Press

Josh Weill

Anthony Doerr

FREAKY FRIDAY

The Kenyon Review Writers Workshop

Boise State University

Emerson College

Laura van den Berg

Newtonville Books

In her memoir, THE HOT ONE, Carolyn Murnick follows the case of the murder of her childhood best friend while thinking back on how they drifted apart. As the pages turn, the book explores themes like sexuality, competitiveness, aging, and the male gaze without sacrificing its considerable momentum and pace. Plus, OUT editor-in-chief and owner of the beautiful ONE GRAND BOOKS, Aaron Hicklin.

James and Carolyn Discuss: 

THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS

THE CUT

HOW TO BE A PERSON IN THE WORLD by Heather Havrilesky

PHILLIPS EXETER ACADEMY

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Tom Beller

MR. BELLER’S NEIGHBORHOOD

FRENCH ROAST DIARY

NEW YORK MAGAZINE

BEFORE AND AFTER: STORIES FROM NEW YORK

MEET ME IN THE BATHROOM by Lizzy Goodman

Larry Weissman

THE FACT OF A BODY by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Aaron and James discuss:

THE FOUNDING FISH by John McPhee

THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE

THE BIBLE

THE QURAN

Dianne Wiest

John Cameron Mitchell

Samuel Beckett

Marlon James

Michael Stipe

Kim Gordon

Michael Cunningham

Carrie Brownstein

SLOUCHING TOWARDS BETHLEHEM by Joan Didion

Maggie Nelson

Lorrie Moore

James Baldwin

Virginia Woolf

Raymond Pettibon

THE JOURNAL OF A TOUR TO THE HEBRIDES by James Boswell

URNE-BURIAL by Sir Thomas Browne

Tilda Swinton

“The Box” by Orbital video dir by Luke Losey

UNE VIE EXEMPLAIRE by Floc’h

Jon Buono

Alabama Booksmith

Lemuria Books

Turnrow Books

Square Books

The Pixies

Violent Femmes

 

Television

CBGB’s

The seventh book from Benjamin Percy is the terrifying THE DARK NET. He tells James what he’s learned writing comics, how he juggles his projects, why his sister slept with the lights on into her 20s (spoiler: it’s Ben’s fault), and how he overcame being a closeted genre fan. Plus Percy’s editor and editorial director of fiction at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Helen Atsma.

Benjamin Percy

Benjamin and James Discuss:

Green Arrow

Teen Titans

Black Canary

Dennis O’Neil

Neal Adams

The Justice League

The Flash

Wonder Woman

Batman

Superman

Green Lantern

DC Comics

Juan Ferreyra

THRILL ME by Benjamin Percy

THE WARLORD

Spider-Man

Mike Grell

X-Men

Wolverine

VOODOO HEART by Scott Snyder

WHO CAN SAVE US NOW? ed by Owen King

VERTIGO COMICS

Katherine Fausset

RED MOON by Benjamin Percy

Mark Doyle

DIE HARD

The Pulitzer Price

THE DARK NET by Benjamin Percy

CONAN THE BARBARIAN Soundtrack

Tom Waits

“Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave

Enya

The Jonas Brothers

Rick Astley

Jen Percy

POETS & WRITERS MAGAZINE

REFRESH, REFRESH by Benjamin Percy

THE LANGUAGE OF ELK by Benjamin Percy

Sherman Alexie

Alice Munro

Flannery O’Connor

THRILLING TALES ed. by Michael Chabon

Jim Shepard

Nick Hornby

Margaret Atwood

Susanna Clarke

Kate Atkinson

Peter Straub

Dennis Lehane

Cormac McCarthy

The Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop

University of Nevada MFA

Kelly Link

Colson Whitehead

Justin Cronin

Karen Russell

WHAT THE WORLD WILL LOOK LIKE WHEN ALL THE WATER LEAVES US by Laura van den Berg

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf

Margot Livesey

Tim O’Brien

GQ

THE DEAD LANDS by Benjamin Percy

THE TWILIGHT ZONE

Powell’s Books

INDEPENDENCE DAY

James and Helen Discuss: 

Steve Martin

“Refresh, Refresh” by Benjamin Percy

THE PARIS REVIEW

Katherine Fausset

TIN HOUSE

Grub Street, Inc.

Graywolf Publishing

THRILL ME by Benjamin Percy

THE WILDING by Benjamin Percy

Grand Central Publishing

THE LONEY by Andrew Michael Hurley

THE WANGS VS. THE WORLD by Jade Chang

THE DARK NET by Benjamin Percy

Stephen King

TOY STORY

JAWS

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by C.S. Lewis

ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN

Archie

E.M. Forster

Alvar Aalto

MISS KOPP’S MIDNIGHT CONFESSIONS by Amy Stewart

GIRL WAITS WITH GUN by Amy Stewart

NEVER COMING BACK by ALISON McGHEE

THE FIRST DAY by Phil Harrison

Marilynne Robinson

KELLY J. FORD revised and sharpened her debut novel, COTTONMOUTHS, in Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program with our second guest, MICHELLE HOOVER. She and James talk about crappy drafts, depression, the woods vs. the forest, coming out narratives, and tents full of mannequin parts. She also describes her process, including using formulas and borrowing the scaffolding of other narratives. Then James asks Michelle about novel writing and workshopping.

Kelly J. Ford

Kelly and James discuss: 

Daniel Woodrell (intro)

Sarah Waters (intro)

“Hanging Judge” Parker

Flannery O’Connor

Paula Abdul

FINGERHUT MAGAZINE

Solid Gold Dancers

Lisa Borders

E.B. Moore

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

Laura van den Berg

Chip Cheek

Cam Terwilliger

Diane Johnson

THE END OF CALIFORNIA by Steve Yarbrough

FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley

RE JANE by Patricia Park

THE MIDDLESTEINS by Jamie Attenberg

DARK PLACES by Gillian Flynn

LITTLE CHILDREN by Tom Perrotta

WRITTEN ON THE BODY by Jeanette Winterson

THE PASSION by Jeanette Winterson

THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin

Maya Angelou

Sam Cooke

HUNGER by Roxanne Gay

Michelle Hoover

Michelle and James Discuss:

Jay Neugeboren

Noy Holland

BOTTOMLAND by Michelle Hoover

Ian Stansel

Brian Evenson

THRILL ME by Benjamin Percy

HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH by Emily Ross

Rachel Barenbaum

IDYLL THREATS by Stephanie Gayle

IDYLL FEARS by Stephanie Gayle

Ian Stansel’s fantastic first novel THE LAST COWBOYS OF SAN GERONIMO plays with the genre expectations of Westerns by setting the murder-revenge in northern California wine country. James and Ian discuss storytelling economy, bringing dead characters to life, horse-y literature, and conclude, “There are a lot of books.” Then editor Naomi Gibbs and James discuss her career path working on ‘orphaned’ novels like Ian’s.

Ian Stansel

Ian and James discuss:

SHOTGUN LOVESONGS by Nickolas Butler

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Graywolf

Roxane Gay

Sherman Alexie

Cormac McCarthy

THE SISTERS BROTHERS by Patrick DeWitt

NEWS OF THE WORLD by Paulette Jiles

Louis L’Amour

Larry McMurtry

The Kentucky Book Fair

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

BLACK BEAUTY by Anna Sewell

THE MARE by Mary Gaitskill

Dick Francis

THE WAKE OF FORGIVENESS by Bruce Machart

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (remake) dir by Antoine Fuqua

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN by Cormac McCarthy

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (film) dir by the Coen Bros

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Bob Dylan

Daniel Woodrell

HELL OR HIGH WATER dir by David Mackenzie

Naomi and James discuss:

Whitman College

Counterpoint Press

Columbia Publishing Course

Bloomsbury Publishing

Gary Snyder

Jack Shoemaker

Politics & Prose

Craig Johnson

Cormac McCarthy

Larry McMurtry

Edward Abbey

In all of his conversations, James has never found anyone who approached the craft of writing with the scientific common sense of Julie Lekstrom Himes. They discuss her debut novel, MIKHAIL AND MARGARITA, and the tremendous amount of work she put into her research in order to understand Russian culture, tracing it all the way to its origins. Plus, Michael Reynolds, Editor-in-Chief of Europa Editions.

 

Julie Lekstrom Himes

Julie and James Discuss:

Grub Street

Fine Arts Work Center

Jim Shepard

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN

Margot Livesey

Hannah Tinti

Daniel Wallace

New York State Summer Writers Institute

THE MASTER AND MARGARITA by Mikhail Bulgakov

THE WHITE GUARD by Mikhail Bulgakov

A YOUNG DOCTOR’S NOTEBOOK by Mikhail Bulgakov

LIE DOWN IN DARKNESS and THE CONFESSIONS OF NAT TURNER by William Styron

THE QUIET AMERICAN by Graham Greene

I REMEMBER by Joe Brainard

Europa Editions

Michael and James Discuss:

Edizioni E/O

THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG by Muriel Barbery

OLD FILTH by Jane Gardam

THREE WEEKS IN DECEMBER by Audrey Schulman

Elena Ferrante

MIKHAIL AND MARGARITA by Julie Lekstrom Himes

In 2004, Daniel Wallace led a workshop at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference that changed James’s life. They reconnect to discuss Daniel’s wonderful new book, EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES, and in the process touch on not trusting compliments, using word clouds, writing sex scenes, and why no one is named Crouton. Then, Kelly Luce joins the show to talk about working with Denis Johnson, who passed away on May 24.

Daniel Wallace

James and Daniel Discuss:

Hannah Tinti

Gordon Lish

Columbia University

Amy Hempel

ESQUIRE MAGAZINE

Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference

ONE STORY

Thomas Edison

Leo Tolstoy

Kelly Luce

Kelly and James Discuss:

Denis Johnson works-

JESUS’ SON

TRAIN DREAMS

TREE OF SMOKE

ANGELS

FISKADORO

THE NAME OF THE WORLD

Thomas Pynchon

Joy Williams

“The Late Homecomer” by Mavis Gallant

The Book of Jonah

“Gambling Hans” by the Grimm Brothers

The author of the gripping new true crime/memoir, THE FACT OF A BODY, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich tells James that “the book teaches you how to write it.” They talk about how those lessons evolved over a decade of work, as well as earning the story, engaging with darkness, measuring the emotional impact of working on a memoir versus finishing one, and geeking out over the work of Maggie Nelson. Plus Colin Dickerman, editor at Flatiron Books.

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Alexandria and James discuss

Mike Scalise

The Muse and the Marketplace

Celeste Ng

Jung Yun

Emerson College

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FACE by Lucy Grealy

SHOT IN THE HEART by Mikal Gilmore

FULL BODY BURDEN: GROWING UP IN THE NUCLEAR SHADOW OF ROCKY FLATS by Kristen Iversen

NOW WRITE! NONFICTION by Sherry Ellis

SON OF A GUN: A MEMOIR by Justin St. Germain

DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson

DRIVING MR. ALBERT by Michael Paterniti

The Writer’s Room in Boston

Sven Birkerts

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy

THE HALF-KNOWN WORLD: ON WRITING FICTION by Robert Boswell

BLUETS by Maggie Nelson

JANE: A MURDER by Maggie Nelson

 

Flatiron Books 

Colin and James Discuss

Flatiron Books

The Penguin Press

THE PARIS REVIEW

Joy Williams

Norman Rush

Lydia Davis

Stephen King

A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara

Marc Maron

THE KINGS OF BIG SPRING by Bryan Mealer

OLIVER LOVING by Stefan Merill Block

Nickolas and James have an honest conversation about the publishing industry and Nickolas’s young career, which has featured three great books, including his most recent novel, THE HEARTS OF MEN. They touch on subjects ranging from how Nickolas started taking writing seriously to becoming an Eagle Scout to attending Iowa to Gordon Lightfoot to Cormac McCarthy’s table tennis skills. Plus, Nickolas’s agent Rob McQuilkin.

Nickolas Butler

Nickolas and James discuss:

Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Square Books

Cormac McCarthy

Canterbury Booksellers

Jim Harrison

POACHERS by Tom Franklin

THE NEW VALLEY by Josh Weil

IN THE LOYAL MOUNTAINS by Rick Bass

Dean Bakopoulos

Jeremiah Chamberlin

LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding

Kent Haruf

JIM THE BOY by Tony Earley

FIGHT CLUB by Chuck Palahniuk

Rob McQuilkin

Rob and James Discuss

EO Wilson

Louisa May Alcott

Jhumpa Lahiri

THE HEARTS OF MEN by Nickolas Butler

Lexi Wangler

Eve GleichmanSHOTGUN LOVESONGS by Nickolas Butler

BENEATH THE BONFIRE by Nickolas Butler

PLOUGHSHARES

OUTSIDE VALENTINE by Liza Ward

Maria Massie

Megan Lynch

Tom Perrotta

Peter Ho Davies