We have two great interviews this week. First up, Magdalena Edwards joins co-hosts Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher to discuss her article for LARB "Benjamin Moser and the Smallest Woman in the World," which has gone viral. This dialogue is no less gripping, as Magdalena outlines her experience working with a publishing industry icon as the hired translator for Clarice Lispector's The Chandelier; and what that harrowing experience led her to reveal about the sordid underbelly of intellectual accreditation. Suffice to say, the powerful readily exploit the vulnerable; but, in this case, the pen and the podcast are gaining the upper hand. Then, Kate and Medaya are joined by Jess Row to discuss his new groundbreaking work White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American imagination. Row brilliantly critiques a broad range of white American authors as he advocates for reparative writing, in which writers use fiction "to approach each other again" in full awareness of America's long racist history. It's nothing short of a clarion call for authors to ply their trade in the fight against Trump and the on-going racist/enthno-nationalist revival that he leads.
(p.s. The amount of great literature referenced and discussed in both halves of this podcast would satisfy anyone's late summer reading list.)
LARB's Medaya Ocher talks with Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert about their new film which documents the recent history of an American factory in Dayton, OH that was closed last decade and re-opened this decade under Chinese ownership and management. The tale is rife with paradoxes: the communists are the capitalists; and the workers from the land of Reagan and Trump channel socialist solidarity as they move to form a union against the wishes of the folks from the People's Republic. The conversation fills in the backstory; and, along the way, reveals what makes this highly political documentary so compelling - the filmmakers' drive to capture the humanity of all the players in the drama.
Also, author Anthony McCann returns to recommend No One Knows My History, Fawn Brodie's beautifully written biography of Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of the Mormon religion.
One of the most pressing issues facing American society is the rise of a radical anti-government right wing movement over the past few decades; and now, in particular, its relationship to President Trump. Author Anthony McCann goes right to heart of this movement in his new book Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff, the product of his first hand experience covering the Ammon Bundy-led occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in early 2016. In this illuminating conversation with co-hosts Kate Wolf, Eric Newman, and Medaya Ocher, McCann's observations about the array of characters at the heart of this dramatic stand off in isolated rural America both confirm and dramatically deny expectations. What is clear is that this movement, for worse not for better, now has deep roots in our country. Yet McCann's unflinching reporting points a way forward: nothing is to be gained by further isolation and vilification versus direct engagement with people, including with this troubled-but-fascinating lot.
Also, Lyra Kilston returns to recommend Laila Lalami's heralded 2014 novel, The Moor's Account.
"There's so much there, and it's so fascinating" observes co-host Kate Wolf after Lyra Kilston opens this week's podcast with a summary of her new book Sun Seekers: The Cure of California. Kate might as well be talking about the entire history, brief yet spectacular, of Southern California. This week's show unveils another of the spectacular paradoxes that define the rise of the Golden State Paradise/Dystopia - the relationship between California Modernism to European Sanatorium culture. If you've ever marveled at the modern architectural jewels that dot the LA landscape; and fantasized about a refined European ex-pat community that built them - prepare to have your dreams recast (in the best SoCal tradition!). Lyra spins fascinating tales that will challenge your understanding of LA history, in dialogue with Kate and Eric Newman,
Also, Hanif Abdurraqib returns to recommend Harmony Holiday's new book of poetry, A Jazz Funeral for Uncle Tom.
What could possibly be more of an LA literary event: James Ellroy reading from his new novel, This storm, then talking with Tom Lutz, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Los Angles Review of Books - and even taking questions from the audience (you simply need to hear his answer to a question about Trump). It's the greatest contemporary practitioner of the great LA genre, live in LA!