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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: April, 2023
Apr 28, 2023

Kate Wolf is joined by the Turner prize-winning artist Helen Cammock to discuss her new book, and current exhibition at Art and Practice in Los Angeles, I Will Keep My Soul. Both are drawn from Cammock’s time in New Orleans—which she began to visit early last year—and address the city’s social history, geography, and community. Her book brings together poetry, film stills, photography, collage, and a number of archival documents from the Amistad Research Center. One of the focuses of Cammock’s research is the artist Elizabeth Cattlet, an active member of the Civils Rights Movement who taught in New Orleans early in her career in the 1940s before leaving the US for Mexico. Decades later, she received a commission to create a sculpture of Louis Armstrong in Congo Square, a historical meeting place for enslaved people in the city. Cattlet’s words and work are woven throughout the book, and evoke the rich accumulations of history that are ever present, and constantly presenting themselves, within a contemporary encounter of place.
Also, Colm Toibin, author of A Guest at the Feast, returns to recommend Claire Keegan's Small Things Like These.

Apr 21, 2023

A LARB Radio Hour doubleheader featuring two innovative approaches to addressing nature in, and with, art. In the first half of the show, Kate Wolf speaks with LARB-contributor Tom Comitta about their first novel The Nature Book, “a literary supercut” that collects and collages descriptions of the natural world from 300 works of fiction by authors spanning Charles Dickens and Emily Bronte to Toni Morrison and William Gibson. The Nature Book is a narrative encompassing the changing of the seasons and the sweeping movement from islands to jungles and grasslands to outerspace, while also serving as an archive of the way nature has appeared in novels since the form was invented to the present day. Then, in the second half of the show, Kate Wolf and Eric Newman are joined by the scholar Suzaan Boettger to discuss Inside the Spiral: The Passions of Robert Smithson, the first biography of the great American artist best known for his breathtaking work of land art The Spiral Jetty. Exploring the autodidact's interest in religion, psychology, sexuality, temporality, and our shifting relationship to the environment, Inside the Spiral offers an account of Smithson as a multi-hyphenate thinker and artist whose work has had an enduring impact on contemporary art and the existential questions of place, space, and relation we wrestle with today.

Apr 14, 2023

Colm Tóibín joins Eric Newman and Kate Wolf to speak about his latest book, a collection of essays, A Guest at the Feast. The book brings together an inspiring range of pieces that Tóibín has published over the last three decades, from his visceral, forthright, and very funny essay on his cancer diagnosis and treatment, to the stirring title essay of the collection, which is an episodic remembrance of his youth in the small town of Enniscorthy in Ireland. The collection also features Tóibín's political commentary, with pieces that draw on his days as a reporter and magazine editor—including coverage of the 1983 Supreme Court case against homosexuality in Ireland and his appraisals of three popes—as well as his masterful literary criticism in considerations of the authors Marilyn Robinson, Francis Stuart, and John McGahern.
Also, Jenny Liou, author of Muscle Memory, returns to recommend Koon Woon's collection of poetry Water Chasing Water.

Apr 7, 2023

On this special LARB Book Club episode of the Radio Hour, Editor-In-Chief Michelle Chihara talks to Poet Jenny Liou about her debut book Muscle Memory, Liou’s vulnerable intense series of autobiographical poems about Chinese American ancestry, family, and about Jenny’s time as a Mixed Martial Arts cage fighter.

Jenny practiced martial arts as a kid, ran track in college, and then started training at a jiu jitsu gym during her time in graduate school. Eventually, that led to a career as a professional fighter for a variety of outfits, including Invicta, the pioneering women’s fighting organization that was a pipeline to the UFC. She has an undergrad degree in biology and graduate degrees in English and writing, and she now teaches at a college in the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her two small kids. Muscle Memory draws on all of her complicated paths through different forms of competition and different kinds of loyalties. Michelle and Jenny talk across the different disciplines of writing and fighting, about how it feels to be in the cage, about who we fight and why and how. We use the word “identity” a lot these days, but Jenny’s poems and this conversation delve into all of the contradictory and complex currents that truly drive us.

Also, McKenzie Wark, author of Raving, returns to recommend Faltas: Letters to Everyone in My Hometown Who Isn’t My Rapist by Cecilia Gentili.

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