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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, 2024
Apr 26, 2024

Scholar Randol Contreras joins Kate Wolf and Eric Newman to discuss his new book  The Marvelous Ones: Drugs, Gang Violence, and Resistance in East Los Angeles. The book is a study of the history and present lives of veterans of the legendary Maravilla gang that long dominated the scene in East Los Angeles before a bitter rivalry with the La Eme during the 1990s and early 2000s that had Maravillas scrambling for their lives in the streets and in prison. Though centered around the experience of that epic gang rivalry, The Marvelous Ones is also an examination of how masculinity, race, and cultural identity are shaped and reshaped within the context of organized crime inside state institutions and in the everyday lives of those living in Los Angeles. It is also a story about what it means to matter and to be remembered as a man, as a husband, as a father, and as a Maravilla amid the roiling waters of political, social, and historical change.
Also, poet Victoria Chang, whose latest collection is With My Back to the World, returns to recommend an anthology of poetry entitled You Are Here: Poetry in the Natural World edited by the current Poet Laureate of the United States, Ada Limon.

Apr 19, 2024

A double-header episode about two new novels that each feature high stakes feats of translation. First, the translator and writer Jenny Croft speaks with Medaya Ocher about her debut novel, The Extinction of Irena Rey. It follows eight translators who have just arrived at the house of a famous, beloved writer, the titular Irena Rey. Suddenly, Irena disappears, and the translators are left to figure out what has happened to her. Stuck and isolated in a primeval Polish forest and driven by ambition, paranoia, and obsession, the group uncovers secrets about Irena and the stakes of their endeavor become higher and higher. Then, writer and translator Katya Apekina joins Kate Wolf to discuss her latest novel, Mother Doll. The book examines how we can be haunted, sometimes literally, by the choices and experiences of our ancestors. Its main character is an adrift young woman named Zhenia. In the midst of finding out she’s pregnant and splitting up with her husband, Zhenia receives a mysterious call from Paul, a pet psychic who has been communicating with her great-grandmother, Irina. Paul needs Zhenia to translate Irina’s story, from Russian, about her role in the Russian Revolution and why she decided to place Zhenia’s beloved grandmother in an orphanage; Irina meanwhile needs Zhenia to understand her choices, and just perhaps, forgive her.

Apr 12, 2024

Kate Wolf speaks with the poet Victoria Chang about her latest collection of poems, With My Back to the World. The book is in deep conversation with the work of the painter Agnes Martin: each poem takes the title of one of Martin’s paintings and is also often accompanied by Chang’s own visual interpretations of Martin’s work. Regarding Martin’s intricate grids and spare compositions inevitably allows Chang to reflect on form, emptiness, nature and light; along with more personal reflections on depression, identity, solitude, violence, and destruction. Chang writes about the act of looking along with the feeling of being seen—and the border between the two, especially within everyday encounters on the internet, where, as she writes, “solitude grabs my phone and takes a selfie.”

Apr 5, 2024

Eric Newman speaks with director Morgan Neville about his new film "STEVE! (martin) a documentary in 2 pieces," which explores the legendary comedian's meteoric rise to standup stardom, his abrupt pivot to TV and film, and his return to stage in the present as he and close friend Martin Short prep a new comedy tour. Eric and Morgan discuss the treasure trove of never-before-seen archival that brings Martin's early career to life, what Morgan has learned about fame and the psychology of entertainers from his storied work documenting the lives of cultural luminaries, and much more.

 

 

Apr 2, 2024

On this special episode, hosts Medaya Ocher, Kate Wolf, and Eric Newman talk about the ethics and politics of memoir in the wake of several recent controversies. Touching on Blake Butler’s Molly, Emily Gould’s essay in The Cut on her flirtation with divorce, and much more, the gang considers who gets to tell whose stories, how, and why.

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