The new documentary Disclosure captures the history of trans representation in Hollywood and mainstream media, with particular attention to the ways in which racism and misogyny influence the portrayal of those who transgress society’s gender norms in order to live their truth. In a wide-ranging discussion, Director Sam Feder and Laverne Cox, star of Orange is the New Black, talk with Medaya and Eric about what has been gained in recent years as well as the challenges ahead as transgender stories, writers, directors, and performers take center stage.
Also, Percival Everett, author of Telephone, returns to recommend Laurence Sterne's classic Tristam Shandy, as well as Michael Winterbottom's recent film adaptation: Tristam Shady: A Cock and Bull Story.
Co-hosts Kate and Daya join acclaimed writer Percival Everett to discuss his new novel, Telephone, which was published in three different version simultaneously. Kate, Daya and Percival discuss playing with the novel form, his greatest fears and our current political moment.
Ottessa Moshfegh, one of America's most celebrated young writers, joins Kate and Daya to discuss her third novel, Death in Her Hands. Ottessa completed the book before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has an uncanny resonance with this unique historic moment as it grapples throughout with issues of isolation. When, in the interview, Ottessa declares "being in isolation and not going crazy is a lot of work," she is speaking about her book's protagonist; but she could just as well be talking about anyone in the world during these days of Shelter in Place. Throw in a deftly crafted murder mystery, a central character reckoning with her own mortality and disappointing life as she begins to find clues and piece together the puzzle, and a dog in the lead supporting role - and it's pretty clear that Ms. Moshfegh has written a psychological thriller for our times.
Also, Juli Delgado Lopera, author of Fiebre Tropical, returns to recommend House of Impossible Beauties, Joseph Cassara's vibrant debut novel set in Harlem's gay ball scene in the 1980s.
In light of the nation-wide public uprising that followed the murder of George Floyd, we return to Patrisse Cullors, author of When They Call You a Terrorist: a Black Lives Matter Memoir. At the 2018 Lambda LitFest, Patrisse spoke with host Eric Newman about her activism, the philosophy that undergirds #BlackLivesMatter and how queer writers and activists from the 1960s and 1970s continue to shape her political vision and practice. While Cullors celebrates recent victories against police brutality and the prison system in Los Angeles, she also gives the audience inspiration for fighting back on what was then the eve of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Juli Delgado Lopero, author of Fiebre Tropical, joins Eric and Daya. Juli shares how their debut novel draws on their experiences growing up in a strong, matriarchal family, moving from Colombia to the U.S. as a teen, and grappling with the unevenness of coming to queer consciousness beyond the cliche coming out narrative. As we close out the show, they share how drag has been a consistent and profound source of joy and creativity in their lives and public performances.
Also, Wayne Koestenbaum, whose latest collection of essays is Figure it Out, returns to recommend two novels by Magda Szabo, The Doorn and Katalin Street; as well as two works by Pierre Guyotat, Coma and In the Deep.
Kate and Medaya talk to the critic and writer Olivia Laing about her new collection of essays Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency. The three discuss the role of art in dark times, Olivia’s environmental activist youth and what she turns to during a crisis. Then, Lucy Ives joins the hosts to discuss the legacy of the artist, architect and writer Madeline Gins, whose work was recently collected into a comprehensive reader titled The Saddest Thing is That I Have Had to Use Words.
One surefire way to lift yourself out of the shelter-in-place doldrums is to engage with someone whose enthusiasm for life and literature is more infectious than any coronavirus. Wayne Koestenbaum joins Kate, Eric, and Daya to discuss his new collection of essays Figure it Out; what ensues is a conversation with exuberant inspirations at every turn. Share this one with your friends, it will renew their faith in living the literary life.
Also, Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings, returns to recommend two foreboding works of recent literature (as if to counterbalance Wayne's optimism): C Pam Zhang's novel How Much of These Hills is Gold; and Joyelle McSweeney's new book of poetry Toxicon and Ariadne.
Writer, editor, and poet Cathy Park Hong joins Medaya Ocher for a dialogue about her new book Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, which is a blend of memoir, history, and cultural criticism that investigates what it means to live as an Asian American women and artist in America. Cathy and Daya learn that they shared some quirky experiences in their youth: wearing inappropriate t-shirts and how they struggled to conquer the english language. Cathy also explains her resonant eponymous concept, "Minor Feelings," which is introduced in an essay on Richard Pryor's hilarious/tortured/sublime "Live in Concert."
Also, Samantha Irby returns to give an advance recommendation for Raven Leilani's novel Luster, which is scheduled for release this summer.
This week we bring you two tales of lore from the olden days of Queer LA. First, Kate, Daya, and Eric are joined by Sharp and Durk Dehner from the Tom of Finland Foundation to tell the story of the legendary gay artist Touko Valio Laaksonen, who immigrated to Los Angeles, on the occasion of Tom's 100th birthday. Then, Rachel Mason drops by to talk about her documentary Circus of Books, which recently debuted on Netflix, about the legendary porn bookstore in Southern California that was owned and operated by Rachel's parents.
This is the tenth episode in our series on LA and Southern California writers, artists and filmmakers. This episode of the LARB Radio Hour is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov. Any findings, opinions, or conclusions contained herein are not necessarily those of the California Arts Council.
Feeling nostalgic for social anxiety? Go public vicariously with Samantha Irby! You may not conquer your fears, but you'll laugh so much you'll be happy about them. Samantha joins Kate, Eric, and Medaya to talk about her new collection of comic essays Wow, No Thank You, her experience writing for Hulu's hit series Shrill, TV writer's rooms in general, and Hollywood's one constant: fake kindness. The wit is accompanied by wisdom throughout; and, in a plague year, there's added resonance to Samantha's themes of making peace with the body and how not to feel alone.
Also, Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen, returns to recommend Lynn Strong's Want, fever dream of a novel about contemporary American economic anxieties, which will be released this summer.
This week, writer Rufi Thorpe joins Eric and Medaya to discuss her latest novel, The Knockout Queen. Rufi, Eric, and Medaya talk about love and violence in American culture, as well as our failed systems of justice. They also discuss RuPaul’s Drag Race, and the beauty of friendships, which brings one of our hosts to tears.
Also, Felicia Angeja Viator, author of To Live and Defy in LA, returns to recommend Hari Kunzru's novel White Tears.
This week, we're joined by Felicia Angeja Viator, author of To Live and Defy in LA: How Gangsta Rap Changed America. Eric, Kate and Medaya talk with Felicia about the rise of gangsta rap in Los Angeles, the sounds and culture that defined the era, the artists and performers who rose to stardom, and how we still see the effects of that sound in music today.
Also, artist Harry Dodge, author of My Meteorite, returns to recommend Crudo A Novel by Olivia Laing.
This is the ninth episode in our series on LA and Southern California writers, artists and filmmakers. This episode of the LARB Radio Hour is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov. Any findings, opinions, or conclusions contained herein are not necessarily those of the California Arts Council.
What better way to break out of the stay-in-place doldrums, and reflect on this transformational moment, than to consider the role of the random in the creation of the new with one of our most brilliant shape-shifters, artist Harry Dodge. Kate, Medaya, and Eric speak with Harry from four different locations across Southern California on the occasion of the publication of his first, already-heralded, book, My Meteorite. Harry talks about what motivated him to write, how he arrived at a form that interweaves memoir-like accounts with extended philosophical reflections - and, of course, the content of those reflections. The imagination of Harry Dodge is an exciting place; and your random encounter with this podcast just might inspire new approaches to our new reality.
Also, Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness, calls in to recommend The Gift by Barbara Browning.
This is the eighth episode in our series on LA and Southern California writers, artists and filmmakers. This episode of the LARB Radio Hour is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov. Any findings, opinions, or conclusions contained herein are not necessarily those of the California Arts Council.
From their disclosed locations, Kate, Eric, and Daya report on the new normal: cooking, enclosure, and a changed perspective on doing nothing. One thing they all agree on, it's a good time to give Jenny Odell another listen, so...
Jenny Odell, author of How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, joins co-hosts Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf to asses the state of the human soul in the age of social media reproduction. The verdict is clear: we need strategies of resistance. Constantly tracked and hunted by the digital panopticon, we have no time for reverie, reflection, letting go, or just being. We desperately need Nothing, which is everything. Jenny shares details of her own liberation.
Also, Susan Straight, author of In The Country of Women, returns to honor Toni Morrison by sharing how she has read her favorite book every single year since she was twelve, Morrison's luminous second novel, Sula.
"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.
Kate and Medaya talk to longtime journalist Joshua Hammer about his most recent book, The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery, and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird. Joshua discusses the strange story of notorious egg smuggler, Jeffery Lendrum, and the wildlife detective who pursued him, as well as the larger repercussions of wildlife poaching, climate change and the global animal trade.
Also, writer and producer Samantha Culp drops by to recommend a timely book, A Journal of the Plague Year, a catalogue from an exhibition of the same name, looking back on the SARS outbreak of 2003.
...and now for something completely difficult. We are inaugurating a new project, the "Best of..." series. Inspired by our annual holiday season "Best of..." special, in which Eric, Kate, and Daya pick their faves from the previous year; the new series differs in one significant way, each episode is organized around one theme - today's is Difficult Women. So, expect to be challenged and meta-challenged! The show opens with a brief discussion about the new series; then Kate explains what inspired her to propose this week's theme; followed by three sets of three engaging discussions about three difficult women - "thrice to thine and thrice to mine / And thrice again. to make up nine."
Tom Lutz sits down with legendary Los Angeles author Walter Mosley, recipient of LARB/UC Riverside Lifetime Achievement Award. Mosley, a master of contemporary noir, has written over 50 books, most famously Devil in a Blue Dress. In late 2019, Mosely published Elements of Fiction; and his most recent novel, Trouble Is What I Do, hit the bookstores this week. In his dialogue with Tom, Mosley spins tales about his childhood, his years as a young writer, and his experiences most recently in the TV writer’s room and Hollywood.
Janet Fitch, author of the classic White Oleander, joins Kate and Medaya to discuss the life and work of Kate Braverman, a Los Angeles literary legend who passed in late 2019. Braverman was Janet's teacher, mentor, and later friend; and Janet reflects on the person she knew, tells tales of her in the classroom, and, of course, on the power of her work on the written page.
Then, LARB's own Founder and Editor-in-Chief Tom Lutz joins Kate and Medaya for an extended conversation about his just released debut novel, Born Slippy.
This is the seventh episode in our series on LA and Southern California writers, artists and filmmakers. This episode of the LARB Radio Hour is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov. Any findings, opinions, or conclusions contained herein are not necessarily those of the California Arts Council.
This week the legendary actress, model and filmmaker Isabella Rossellini joins co-hosts Kate and Medaya to discuss her new theatrical production, Link Link Circus, her studies into animal behavior, and her long career in film and TV. Isabella also discusses her most recent book, My Chickens and I; as well as her previous one, Green Porno, a hugely successful multi-media project that helped revive interest in one of Isabella's other loves, the short film form.
Also, Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown, returns to recommend Lisa Damour's Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood.
Kate and Medaya talk with Garth Greenwell about his new book of fiction, Cleanness, the follow-up to his heralded debut What Belongs to You. Set in Bulgaria, where Greenwell taught in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008 and the social crises that followed; the book's distinct nine chapters/stories focus on the narrator's life as a teacher as well as his romantic and sexual experiences.
Also, Director Celine Sciamma, who's latest film is Portrait of a Lady on Fire, returns to recommend the entire body of work of French author Virginie Despentes.
Kate and Medaya talk with award-winning screenwriter and novelist Charles Yu about his new book, Interior Chinatown; an experimental, yet eminently enjoyable, novel-in-the-form-of-a-screenplay. Charles discusses how he came to write such a formally challenging book, in which the central character's world is defined by, and limited to, the horizons available to Asian and Asian-American characters in popular film and television.
Also, J Hoberman, author of Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan, returns to recommend Victor Serge's recently discovered Notebooks from 1936-47, in which the great communist writer lived in exile, from Paris to Mexico.
This is the sixth episode in our series on LA and Southern California writers, artists and filmmakers. This episode of the LARB Radio Hour is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov. Any findings, opinions, or conclusions contained herein are not necessarily those of the California Arts Council.
LARB Editor-in-Chief Tom Lutz is joined by author and USC Professor Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Sympathizer, at a recent LARB Luminary Dinner. Viet begins by talking about about his family's experience as refugees, and how that informs his writing; as well as his understanding of globalization, American politics and contemporary Vietnam. They then discuss the breadth of Viet's writing, how he approaches his fiction vs his non-fiction vs his academic writing; and his latest work too, Chicken of Sea, a children's book - with powerful detours along the way on the importance of both Paul Ricoeur's concept of "enlightened forgetting," and the absent presence of ghosts, for our fraught times.
Celine Sciamma joins hosts Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher to discuss her film Portrait of a Woman on Fire, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes and won this year's Queer Palm at Cannes. Set in the 18th Century, the film is about the growing desire between a woman painter and her subject, a young woman about to marry a nobleman. The central action takes place on an island in which the men all-but-disappear. Claire discusses how she rejects the established ways that women, women's bodies, their desire, and their sexuality are traditionally represented in cinema; and how she seeks to develop a new feminist approach to such representation, one which lends itself to new forms of dramatic tension and groundbreaking cinematography. Celine also addresses the struggles of women directors in France and their even greater marginalization in America; and what can be done to remedy this injustice.
Also, Amanda Yates Garcia, author of Initiated: Memior of a Witch, returns to recommend Ariana Reines' transcendent poetry in A Sand Book.
Critic, photographer and artist, Hilton Als joins Kate and Medaya to discuss his debut play, Lives of the Performers, which tells the story of actress Sheryl Sutton, one of the lead actors in Robert Wilson's ground-shattering troupe in the 1970s. Als, the former theater critic at the New Yorker, also discusses his fascination with twins, writing a play, and the role race has played in the history of the avant-garde.
The show also includes a spirited debate among the hosts about this year's soporific Golden Globes: are woke actors enough to keep you awake?
Also, legendary film critic J Hoberman returns to explain why his favorite film of 2019, Mary Harron's Charlie Says, was a superior take on the Manson Family saga than Quintin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.