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LARB Radio Hour

The Los Angeles Review of Books Radio Hour is a weekly show featuring interviews, readings and discussions about all things literary. Hosted by LARB Editors-at-Large Kate Wolf, Medaya Ocher, and Eric Newman.
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Now displaying: June, 2021
Jun 25, 2021

Eric and Medaya talk with queer writer Kristen Arnett about her knew novel, With Teeth, which centers on the troubled relationships between Sammie, her wife Monica and their son, Samson.  As Samson grows up, it becomes clear that he isn't quite like the other children. He is emotionally aloof and prone o outbursts. As a teenager, he's even more of a mystery: a loner and a threat to the image of a normal family that Monica is so desperate to present to the world. As the stay at home Mom, and narrative focal point, Sammie is tasked with trying to understand both her mysterious son; and herself, as her marriage and seemingly every else begins to deteriorate around her - or so it seems. As With Teeth spins through its insightful portrayal of queer parenthood, the struggle for identity and autonomy amidst the disintegration of a marriage, Kristen Arnett keeps us guessing until the final moment when it appears that everything we think we know about Sammie, Monica, and Samson might be wrong.

Also, Joan Silber, author of Secrets of Happiness, returns to recommend two recent novels: The Sun Collective by Charles Baxter; and The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey.

Jun 18, 2021

On this week's show we're joined by two authors, Kate Zambreno and Susan Bernofsky, who have both written a magisterial work about a past literary master.

First, Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf talk with Kate Zambreno about To Write as if Already Dead, a study of the writing and photography of Herve Guibert (1955-1991); and, in particular, his work To The Friend Who Did Not Save My Life, which documents Guibert's diagnosis and disintegration from HIV, and portrays a character based upon his close friend, philosopher Michel Foucault.

Then, Kate is joined by Susan Bernofsky to discuss Clairvoyant of the Small, her biography of Swiss author Robert Walser (1878-1956), one of the most influential modernist writers in the German language.  Susan’s biography portrays Walser not just as the eccentric outsider figure he’s often made out to be, but as a fully formed artist, with serious creative aspirations, proliferate charms, and many complications. Clairvoyant of the Small offers a nuanced picture of his turbulent life—much of its drama stemming from financial precarity, family legacy, and the sweeping pendulums of early twentieth century European history—as it also illuminates the complexity and beauty of his writing.

Jun 11, 2021

Author Joan Silber, whose previous work Improvement won both the National Book Critic’s Circle Aware and the Pen Faulkner Award, joins Eric and Kate to discuss her new novel Secrets of Happiness, a multi-vocal story that radiates out from a single family dealing with a father's intimate betrayal.  He has a secret family that he told nobody about.  As it moves across characters and continents, Secrets of Happiness considers the weight of love, family, and other attachments in a world where nothing is as it seems, and happiness is a fleeting experience best savored in the presence.

Also, Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show: A Political History of Act Up New York, 1987-1993, returns to recommend Natasha Trethewey’s Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir as well as Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All by Martha S. Jones.

Jun 4, 2021

Professor Carol Anderson, whose previous work White Rage won the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, joins Eric and Kate to discuss her latest book, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America.  The Second takes a long historical look at the emergence and development of the second amendment—"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"—against the backdrop of anti-Black violence, fear, and public policy. Professor Anderson reveals the various ways in which slavery—and, in particular, white slaveowners' fears of slave insurrection—shaped the Second amendment from the very beginning, with long-reaching effects that we continue to face today, a year after the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer. America's most infamous constitutional amendment was not about guns, but about the racial divides through which a white man wielding a gun receives Constitutionally-lauded legal protections, while in the hands of a Black man in America, a firearm can so often be a death sentence.

Also, Jacqueline Rose, author of On Violence and On Violence Against Women, returns to recommend both Anna Burns' The Milkman, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2018, as well as Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. 

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