Filmmaker Petra Costa joins co-hosts Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher to talk about Brazil's turbulent politics over the past few decades; and how she was able to capture their operatic intensity in her new documentary, Edge of Democracy. Petra grew up the child of political militants, who were jailed and then went into hiding during Brazil's military dictatorship, which ended in the '80s. However, she also had deep roots in the country's political right-wing. Her father's family ran a construction company; a major player in the industry at the heart of the country's legendary corruption. This unique family history grants Petra unparalleled access to the leaders of both the left and the right while shooting her film; but also informs her deep sense of personal conflict and remorse as events unfold. The film begins by heralding the dramatic rise of Lula, Brasil's first leftist President since the end of the dictatorship. Petra is equally thrilled at the election of his chosen heir, Dilma Rousseff, the country's first women President; but mostly she is delighted by what appears to be the successful establishment of democracy in her country. Then, the forces of reaction start to stir... Petra acknowledges that many viewers draw parallels with the political crisis in the only western hemisphere country more populous than Brazil. Though, there are conspicuous differences: in one country, it's a corrupt Judge that successfully topples a sincere, well-intentioned President; while in the other, an honorable prosecutor is unable to dislodge an utterly corrupt President. What's strikingly similar is that the right-wing triumphs in both countries while democracy loses.
Also, author Claire Vaye Watkins returns to recommend Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush.
Poet Ariana Reines joins co-hosts Eric Newman and Kate Wolf to discuss A Sand Book, her most ambitious work to date. The show opens with a powerful extended passage from the poem A Partial History. If listeners are not yet aware of Reines as one this century's great new voices, they will be within five minutes: a rhythmic cascade of language rife with resonant images of social conflict, dissipation, recurring glimmers of self-awareness lost in a flood of unrelenting distraction, but our drive to quest never extinguished - epic verse for our lost society. What follows then is a series of reflections on the promise of 21st century language; and the new territories where Reines is searching for, and finding, inspiration.
Also, Erica Jong returns to recommend Horizon by Barry Lopez, the National Book Award-winner's new work of non-fiction.
Author Fred Tuten joins co-hosts Medaya Ocher, Kate Wolf and Eric Newman to talk about his new book, My Young Life: A Memoir. The conversation begins with Fred explaining why after five celebrated novels, he chose to write a memoir; what follows is a series of beautiful reflections on his life. In the introduction to the show, Medaya says this is perhaps her very favorite LARB Radio Hour to date. Indeed, Fred's deep compassion for the people in his life, his novel-like descriptions of time and place, and his trenchant political observations makes this a show that cannot be missed - there's a true generosity of Spirit here.
Also, the irrepressible John Waters returns to recommend a book and offers four: Moby's new memoir, Then It Fell Apart; Kevin Killian's Fascination - as well as the works of Clarise Lispector and Dodie Bellamy.
Legendary Chicanx Feminist Theorist Cherrie Moraga joins host Eric Newman to talk about her new memoir, Native Country of the Heart, which tells the story of Cherrie mother, Elvira, along with reflections on Cherrie's own life and the long history of the Mexican-American/Indigenous diaspora. Cherrie discusses how she came to write about her mother's life, her own coming into being as a Chicanx radical feminist artist and lesbian, and ends with some somber thoughts about our dire contemporary politics balanced by where she finds hope in this context.
Also, Jacob Tobia, author of Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story, returns to recommend the super-hot, gender-shifting, pan-sexual Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor