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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: November, 2021
Nov 26, 2021

In the first half of the show, Kate Wolf is joined by Melissa Anderson to discuss her first book, Inland Empire, a volume in Fireflies Press’s Decadent Editions series, which revisit seminal films from the 2000s. A story of a “woman in trouble,” David Lynch’s Inland Empire (2006) is a bold selection, since, as Anderson points out, to try and make sense of its plot “would be to replicate the tediousness and pointlessness of narrating a dream.” Instead the book concerns itself most with the film’s star, Laura Dern, an electrifyingly expressive performer who has worked in the industry since she was a child. Using the whole of Dern’s career and her many collaborations with Lynch, Anderson explores Inland Empire as the work not so much of an auteur but of an actor, making poignant observations along the way about disintegration and desperation, victimization and agency, the possibilities of the female gaze, and the dark side of Hollywood.

In the second half, Kate is joined by artist and inventor Pippa Garner. Over the past six decades, Garner has satirized American consumer culture with a range of drawings and ideas for outlandish yet, given our zeal for novelty, completely plausible products, custom furniture, and things like the world’s most fuel efficient car — which is actually a bicycle set inside the frame of a miniature Honda. In the 1970s she collaborated with the media collective Ant Farm, and in the 1980s, as Phillip Garner, she published books such as Better Living Catalog: 62 Absolute Necessities for Contemporary Survival and Utopia — or Bust! Products for the Perfect World. She also made regular appearances on the talk show circuit, in character as a small-town inventor, presenting some of her many gadgets — like a crop-top business suit and an umbrella whose canopy is constructed of palm fronds. “Immaculate Misconceptions,” a retrospective of her work, is currently on view at Joan in Los Angeles.

Nov 19, 2021

Essayist, poet, playwright, and filmmaker José Vadi joins Eric Newman to discuss his debut essay collection, Inter State. José’s first play, a eulogy for three, was the winner of the San Francisco Foundation’s Shenson Performing Arts Award. He is also the author of SoMa Lurk, a collection of photos and poems that spring from the San Francisco neighborhood of the same name, and his writing has been featured in a number of publications, including CatapultMcSweeney’sNew Life Quarterly, and our own Los Angeles Review of Books. The essays in Inter State move across a California that is at once family home and site of alienation, humming with possibility and on the brink of disaster, energetic and decayed.

Also, Ruth Ozeki, author of The Book of Form and Emptiness, returns to recommend Jorge Luis Borges’s The Aleph and Other Stories.

Nov 12, 2021

Ruth Ozeki is a writer, filmmaker, Zen Buddhist priest, and author of three novels, My Year of MeatsAll Over Creation, and A Tale for the Time Being, which was a finalist for the 2013 Booker Prize. Her nonfiction work includes the memoir The Face: A Time Code and the documentary film Halving the Bones. 

Ozeki joins Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher to talk about her latest work, The Book of Form and Emptiness. The novel opens with the death of Kenji, an itinerant jazz musician who is run over by a chicken truck after he falls down in the street late at night and is too intoxicated to pick himself back up. The story follows Kenji’s wife, Annabelle, and son, Benny, as they both cope, in their own ways, with their terrible tragedy. Annabelle becomes a hoarder, stacking various objects in their home as a kind of insurance against loss. Benny starts to hear those objects, and many others, talking to him, which eventually lands him in a psychiatric ward. As the novel moves forward, Benny meets an alluring, rebellious girl, Aleph, and Slajov the Bottleman, a wheelchair-bound alcoholic whose ravings about poetry, capitalism, and philosophy gin up, in part, the novel’s deep investment in questions about consumption, objects, and grief.

Also, Tom McCarthy, author of The Making of Incarnation, returns to recommend Ann Quin’s Three.

Nov 5, 2021

Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher are joined by Tom McCarthy, author of the contemporary classic, Remainder, as well as of the novels C and Satin Island, both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He is also the author of the collection of essays Typewriters, Bombs, and Jellyfish and of the literary study Tintin and the Secret of Literature, and is the “General Secretary” of the “semi-fictitious organization” the International Necronautical Society (INS), which has exhibited art around the world.

McCarthy’s latest book is The Making of Incarnation, a novel that follows the hunt for a box that has gone missing from the archives of a time-and-motion pioneer named Lillian Moller Gilbreth. Gilbreth’s studies in movement helped birth the era of mass observation and big data, but did she also discover the “perfect” movement, one that would “change everything”?

Also, Natalie Diaz, author of Postcolonial Love Poem, returns to recommend poet Desiree C. Bailey’s What Noise Against the Cain.

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