Errol Morris, the legendary filmmaker, joins Kate, Medaya, and Eric to discuss his new documentary "The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography." A loving investigation of the work of a longtime friend, the film represented a new challenge for a master celebrated for revealing the tortured souls of America's elite war criminals on the big screen. Errol Morris reveals a couple secrets of his craft; and his sense of what, at the end of the day, still remains. Also, Jonathan Lethem returns to recommend Alison Lurie's brilliant novel of transplants in LA, The Nowhere City.
Jonathan Lethem joins Kate, Medaya, and Eric to discuss the publication of his first collection of essays, reviews, and commentaries "More Alive and Less Lonely;" which serves as a fine description of the free-ranging dialogue that ensues. The great subjects of life are tackled: how to contend with the impact of having children on your daily regimen of reading; New York v California; Fiction v Criticism; etc, et al. Also, Dana Spiotta returns to recommend Chanelle Benz's The Man Who Shot Out My Eye is Dead.
Author Deborah Nelson joins Kate, Medaya, and Eric to discuss her new book Tough Enough about a five iconic 20th century women writers, plus one photographer, and their stylistic affinity - a rejection of sentimentality that challenged gender stereotypes. A fascinating discussion about six fascinating figures in the American pantheon: Susan Sontag, Mary McCarthy, Diane Arbus, Joan Didion, and (the two expats) Hannah Arendt and Simone Weil. Also, Amelia Gray returns to recommend Kristen Iskandrian's novel Motherest.
Los Angeles Author Amelia Gray joins Kate, Medya, and Eric to discuss her new novel Isadora. The book focuses on two years in the life of Isadora Duncan, the legendary American Modern Dance pioneer. It begins when Isadora is the toast of Paris (her adopted hometown) in 1913, the year before the outbreak of World War One. Then, tragedy strikes, her two young children drown in the Seine. Isadora flees Paris, traveling across a Europe that is itself imploding. Author Amelia Gray talks about her approach to historical fiction, what attracted her to Isadora Duncan, and how we try to cope with soul shattering grief. Also, author Jess Arndt returns to recommend a novella, The Last Wolf, by Hungarian author Lazlo Krasznahorkai.
Los Angeles author Jess Arndt joins Kate and Medaya to talk about her first collection of stories Large Animals: Stories. Arndt is a stunningly original author; writing fluidly surrealistic tales where subjectivity is multiplicity; yet the proceedings are anchored by the bodies we navigate and inhabit. Also, Kate recommends Proxies: Essays Near Knowing, a book of philosophical poetry by Cal Arts Professor Brian Blanchfield.
Mary Gaitskill, one of the most distinctive and celebrated contemporary American writers, spoke with Tom Lutz and Laurie Winer at a special LARB event in Silver Lake last month. Mary opened the evening with a reading from her new collection of essays, Somebody with a Little Hammer. The conversation flowed through countless subjects from there: the psychology of Mary's most celebrated characters; drugs, alcohol, and writing; Linda Lovelace; the question of cultural appropriation; Mary's scathing take on Donald Trump, and more. Also, Janet Sarbanes author of The Protester Has Been Released returns to recommend two books: The Censors by Luisa Valenzuela; and a book of poetry The Wasp Queen by Claudia Cortese.
LARB Radio's Kate Wolff, Medaya Ocher, Eric Newman spoke with authors Joyce Carol Oates, Morgan Parker, and Fiona Maazel at this year's LA Times Bookfest held recently on the USC campus. Morgan Parker is the author of There are More Beautiful Things than Beyonce. Fiona Maazel's latest novel is A Little More Human. Joyce Carol Oates remains one of the leading figures in contemporary American letters, a status she has held for many decades. All three reflect on their writing processes, on contemporary literature and culture, as well as our troubled political times.
LARB Radio's Kate Wolff, Medaya Ocher, Eric Newman braved 90 degree heat to speak with authors Garth Greenwell, Marcy Dermansky, and Dana Spiotta at this year's LA Times Bookfest held recently at USC's campus. Garth Greenwell is the author of the novel What Belongs to You. Marcy Dermansky's latest novel is The Red Car (which was recommended a few weeks ago on the LARB Radio hour). Dana Spiotta is a return guest on the show and author most recently of Innocents and Others: A Novel. All three offer spirited observations on contemporary literature, as well as our troubled political times.
Author Janet Sarbanes speaks with Kate and Medaya about her new collection The Protester Has Been Released. The wide-ranging conversation includes Soviet space dogs, humanity's betrayal of the planet, the relevance of Latin American literature in the era of Trump; and, of course, the reason this moment inspires protest. Also, LARB's Eric Newman drops in to recommend two books from the recent Chinese LGBT canon: Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin from Taiwan and Beijing Comrade by Bei Tong - both of which brilliantly capture the spirit of romantic obsession.
Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras joins Kate, Eric, and Medaya to discuss her new film, Risk; the product of filming Julian Assange and the Wikileaks team over the past seven years. The film is a companion piece to Poitras' Academy Award winning Citizen Four, about Edward Snowden. Both films place Poitras at the epicenter of two of the most significant politcal phenomena of our digital age; and, in both instances, she has crafted brilliant films. Also, Abdellah Taia returns to recommend Russell Banks' novel from the 1980's Continental Drift.
In a powerful show, author Abdellah Taia talks with co-hosts Kate Wolf and Eric Newman about his new collection from Semiotexte, "Another Morocco;" and also about his experience as the first prominent Moroccan author to come out of the closet; his love of Morocco; how he knew he would lose part of himself when he moved to France; and his bitterness towards French liberal society, which may be less homophobic, but is not tolerant of the young man he was in Morocco. George Prochnik, author of a new book about Gershom Scholem, returns to recommend Scholem's magisterial biography The Mystical Messiah: Sabbatai Sevi about one of the most astonishing figures in Jewish history.
Art Historian Kellie Jones talks about her new book, South of Pico, on the flourishing African-American Art scene in Los Angeles in the 1960s and '70s. Co-host Kate Wolf is joined by first-time co-host Eric Newman in a wide-ranging discussion with Kellie about the social, economic, historical, and artistic forces that influenced a powerful generation of black artists in Southern California; whose work continues to resonate. Also, author George Prochnik returns to recommend the work of novelist Irene Nemirovsky, whose stories from both pre- and post-nazi Europe are chillingly cautionary tales for our times.
George Prochnik is one of our leading biographers and cultural historians; and he talks with Kate and Medaya about his latest book, "Stranger in a Strange Land: Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem." As he talks about Scholem's life, from his close friendship with Walter Benjamin to his exodus from Europe, to his history excavations of Judaica that were motivated by a desire to enliven contemporary Jewish life - it becomes apparent that Prochnik sees something of his own quest for meaning in Scholem's unique path. Also, Elif Batuman returns to recommend Hanya Yanagihara' s The People in the Trees.
Author Elif Batuman joins Kate and Medaya to discuss her new semi-autobiographical novel, The Idiot, about a Turkish-American freshman at Harvard. Elif explains the book’s unique genesis: she wrote it shortly after graduating, found it in a drawer many years later, and reworked it into its current form. Many Elifs contributed to this book - the Harvard freshman, the postgraduate author, the recent literary archaeologist, and the nonfiction author whose celebrated book The Possessed covers a similar time period as a work of “objective journalism.” And, yes, Kate, Medea, and Elif share their love for Dostoyevsky! Also, Melissa Febos, author of Abandon Me, returns to recommend a book of poetry, Donika Kelly's Bestiary. And we end by honoring Robert Silvers, legendary founder and editor of the New York Review of Books, who died at 87 in March. LARB contributor Jon Wiener spoke to Silvers in 2013.
Melissa Febos joins Medaya and Kate to discuss Abandon Me, her new beautifully lyrical eight-chapter essay. In one of the most intimate dialogues to date on the LARB Radio Hour, Melissa talks not only about the life changing love affair, and her search for her birth father, that are the core of the book's narrative; but also draws us into how the world looks through the eyes of one of America's leading literary stylists. Also on this week's podcast, Naima Keith of the California African American Museum returns to recommend Issa Rae's The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.
Host Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn talks with Naima Keith, the award-winning deputy director of the California African American Museum in Los Angeles about art, history, politics, and how they intersect. Naima also talks in detail about the new Spring Season at CAAM, which features five shows including exhibits of the work of New York based artist Derrick Adams, Los Angeles' own Kenyatta A C Hinkle, and a look back at the 1992 LA Uprising. Also, podcast superstar Karina Longworth returns to recommend Marcy Dermansky's novel The Red Car.
Yale Law Professor and constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar joins LARB Legal Editor Dan Franzen for a discussion of his book, The Constitution Today; and how the new Trump Administration may represent a threat to the US constitutional system. From possible impeachment proceedings to travel bans already knocked down by District Courts to Administration challenges to the Free Press, it's clear the Trump Administration requires newfound vigilance for defenders of the Constitution. Also, Akhil explains one of his best known policy proposals: The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (already adopted by ten states) that could transform American Presidential Elections so that the winner of the national popular vote becomes President.
Award-winning novelist Valeria Luiselli joins Kate and Medaya to talk about her new book, Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions, about the flood of children refugees coming to the United States on a harrowing journey through Mexico from Central America. Luiselli reminds us that Trump may exacerbate the problem, but its been a tragic reality for years. Also, Sarah Manguso returns to recommend Amy Fusselman's underappreciated "8: All True: Unbelievable."
Essayist Sarah Manguso joins Kate and Medaya to read from and talk about her new book 300 Arguments: Essays; which is a searing set of aphorisms (though Sarah shies away from that word) that prove the power of concision. Also, Vanessa Davis, author of Spaniel Rage, returns to recommend Lynda Barry's One Hundred Demons.
This week's podcast is the audio from the Film Now panel held in late 2016 & moderated by LARB's Anna Shechtman. The panelists were LA Times film critic Justin Chang, USC Professor and film scholar J D Connor, Cathy Schulman, the head of the organization Women In Film, and Gil Robertson, President of the African American Film Critics Association - and the event featured a wide-ranging consideration of the state of Cinema in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century, with particular focus on questions of diversity and distribution as well as the best films of 2016.
Vanessa Davis talks with co-hosts Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf about her autobiographical comics; in particular her collection Spaniel Rage, which is being re-issued. Davis discusses the evolution of a new literary art form; along with the establishment of women in the comics world. Then Martabel Wasserman drops by to recommend Sarah Schulman's classic novel of New York City at the height of the AIDS crisis, People in Trouble; which features a Donald Trump inspired antagonist. Lastly, Tom and Laurie listen to, and adore, a couple of poems by Emily Dickinson.
Co-hosts Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher speak with Iranian Poet in exile Moshen Emadi, who lives in Mexico but is touring America on the occasion of the publication of the first English language collection of his poems, Standing On Earth. A lover of Whitman and other great American poets, Emadi reflects on the tragedy that when he leaves the country the current President would ban him from returning to the Land of the Free. Then local artist, publisher, and activist Martabel Wasserman joins Kate and Medaya to discuss how art and literature are a powerful and essential component of resistance against oppression - needed now more than ever. Also, Karina Longworth drops by to give a book recommendation: Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz.
Karina Longworth talks with LARB's Medaya Ocher and Gustavo Turner about her phenomenally successful podcast about old Hollywood, "You Must Remember This," on the occasion of the launch of its new season series on Dead Blondes. Then LARB's Janice Littlejohn talks with African-American Theologian Monica Coleman about her stunning memoir Bipolar Faith. Also LARB Film Editor Anna Schectman drops in to recommend Patricia White's book Women's Cinema/World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms.
LARB's resident film critic Anna Schectman joins fellow cinephiles Medaya Ocher & Kate Wolf to talk about their favorite foreign films of 2016; focusing on Pedro Almodovar's change of pace, Julieta; Paul Veerhoeven's Elle starring the fiercely sublime Isabelle Huppert; and The Handmaiden, a genre-bending and visually stunning tale of Victorian Korea by Park Chan-Wook. Also, Tom Lutz recommends TC Boyle's The Terranauts (with its surprising Trump Administration tie-in); and praises DH Lawrence's Terra Incognita.
In part two of LARB in SF, we feature Laurie and Tom's dialogues with one of America's most celebrated authors, Ha Jin, as well as the only path breaking professor of ethnic studies who is also a legendary bandleader, Dr. Loco (aka Jose Cuellar). Ha Jin reflects on literature, cross-cultural insight, and the very real threat of Donald Trump to democracy. Dr Loco reveals the joyous traditions of, and multicultural influences on, Chicano music; and tells tales of his former band mate, a young Tom Lutz. Also, both Laurie and Tom express their appreciation of Lena Dunham's memoir Not That Kind of Girl. The show closes with a reading of Thomas Lux's A Little Tooth.