Rank #1: Sally Rooney: Great Expectations
Co-hosts Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf speak with Sally Rooney about her two novels Conversations with Friends and Normal People. Dubbed the "Jane Austin of the Precariat" and called "the first great millennial novelist" Sally addresses the acclaim she’s received; and how she’s grown into the person and writer she is today. Also, William E. Jones returns to recommend The Imposter byJavier Cercas, which tells the story of Spaniard Enric Marco, who was a national hero until he was exposed as a fraud in 2005.
May 03 2019
Rank #2: A Difficult Woman: The Fierceness and Feminism of Andrea Dworkin
Johanna Fateman and Amy Scholders, the editors of Last Days at Hot Slit: the Radical Feminism of Andrea Dworkin, join co-hosts Medaya Ocher, Kate Wolf, and Eric Newman. Fateman and Scholder talk abut the literary and political legacy of Dworkin, a controversial figure in feminist history whose critiques of patriarchy and pornography made her an icon and a pariah in the 1970s and 80s. By looking back at Dworkin beyond the frame of the so-called Sex Wars, they challenge us to see the incisiveness of her political vision balanced against an abrasive style at once thrilling and off-putting. Also, Sam Lipsyte, the author of Hark, returns to recommend Lucy Ives' creatively titled upcoming novel Loudermilk or The Real Poet or The Origin of the World.
Mar 01 2019
Rank #3: Director Bong Joon Ho Talks Parasite
Co-hosts Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher are joined by filmmaker, Bong Joon Ho, whose latest film is Parasite. Parasite has already gathered a wide range of acclaim, winning the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and breaking specialty box office records. Bong joins us to discuss how he grew up, how he came up with the idea for the movie, and how he understands the relationship between the rich and the poor. Bong’s previous films include Mother (2009), Snowpiercer (2013) and Okja (2017). Also, Sarah M Broom, author of The Yellow House, returns to recommend The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald.
Oct 18 2019
Rank #4: The Best of 2019: Books, TV, Movies, and More
It's a LARB Holiday Season tradition! Kate, Daya, and Eric review all that they read, watched, attended, and gossiped about to select their favorites from the past year. The result is a broad, eclectic array. Indeed, the first work chosen is by an author who died in 1996. Many more surprises ensue. A few of our picks are by authors or directors that we interviewed over the past year. Most, however, were not previously discussed on the show. No matter, every selection sparks a spirited discussion. As Eric warns in the introduction, "no one chose only one thing in any category." So, get out your notepads and prepare for an avalanche of excellence.
Check out all of our recommendations here.
Dec 27 2019
Rank #5: Ariana Reines' Quest for 21st Century Epic Verse
Poet Ariana Reines joins co-hosts Eric Newman and Kate Wolf to discuss A Sand Book, her most ambitious work to date. The show opens with a powerful extended passage from the poem A Partial History. If listeners are not yet aware of Reines as one this century's great new voices, they will be within five minutes: a rhythmic cascade of language rife with resonant images of social conflict, dissipation, recurring glimmers of self-awareness lost in a flood of unrelenting distraction, but our drive to quest never extinguished - epic verse for our lost society. What follows then is a series of reflections on the promise of 21st century language; and the new territories where Reines is searching for, and finding, inspiration. Also, Erica Jong returns to recommend Horizon by Barry Lopez, the National Book Award-winner's new work of non-fiction.
Jul 19 2019
Rank #6: Ayelet Waldman's Psychedelic Salvation
What if a highly illegal drug could be used, far more successfully than prescribed pharmaceuticals, to help people with depression and bi-polar disorder? Who would be willing not just to experiment on themselves, but also to spread the word? LARB Radio's Medaya Ocher talks with just such a brave soul, Ayelet Waldman, author of A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life. Recorded in front of a full house at Scripps College, it's a fascinating dialogue full of surprises: Ayelet relates her own personal struggles, her frustration with anti-depressants, her traumatizing years as a Federal public defender appalled by the War on Drugs, her full knowledge of the severity of the law she was breaking, the whimsical arrival of a package from Lewis Carroll, the pharmacology of LSD, the precision of micro-dosing, and then, magically, relief. Ayelet acknowledges that her social privilege (as a prosperous white woman, a Harvard Law graduate, married to Michael Chabon, herself a successful mystery writer and novelist) allowed her to take a huge risk, as such she feels compelled to announce her discovery of happier trails ahead.
Apr 19 2018
Rank #7: Carmen Maria Machado and Jenny Zhang
This week’s podcast is another Doubleheader, featuring interviews with Carmen Maria Machado and Jenny Zhang recorded at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. First up, co-hosts Eric Newman, Kate Wolf, and Medaya Ocher speak with Carmen Maria Machado about her heralded collection, Her Body and Other Parties, an eclectic set of fictions that both revels in, and challenges, the standard tropes of a wide variety of genres. Carmen also drops hints about what to expect from her upcoming memoir. Then poet, essayist, and storyteller Jenny Zhang stops by to talk about her approach to writing Sour Heart, a collection of coming-of-age stories about the children of recent Chinese immigrants, which also won numerous prestigious awards this past year.
Jun 08 2018
Rank #8: The Best of 2018: Books, TV, Movies, and More
We end the year with a special treat as hosts Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher, and Kate Wolf reveal their Best of 2018 selections. Eric, Daya, and Kate go high and also low with their favorite books, films, TV shows, podcasts (present company excluded), art shows, and one category so scandalous it's best kept a secret (for now). So, All Hail King Paimon and the Combahee River Collective; as well as authors Azareen Van Der Vliet and Rebecca Makkai, the two previous guests who made the list! Please enjoy our look back at the year that was; and make sure to catch Eric, Daya, and Kate's sage advice for 2019 at the end of the show.
Dec 28 2018
Rank #9: The Science of Feelings and the Origins of Culture
How do cultural practices become established? Why do we live in the way that we do? For generations social scientists, philosophers, and even psychologists have emphasized the centrality of human rationality as the arbiter of cultural development. USC Professor of Neuroscience, Psychology and Philosophy Antonio Damasio suggests otherwise in his latest book, The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures. As Professor Damasio explains to co-hosts Tom Lutz and Eric Newman, his research shows how cultural decisions, and their potential adoption across a given society, is rooted much more in feelings than previously thought. What follows is a fascinating dive into the role emotions and feelings play in all living things on earth: from us (so-called) higher primates to other animals, plants, and all the down way to micro-organisms. Suffice to say, this week's show will challenge, and possibly change, the way you understand, and feel about, the world.
Apr 06 2018
Rank #10: A Podcast About Nothing with Jenny Odell
Jenny Odell, author of How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, joins co-hosts Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf to asses the state of the human soul in the age of social media reproduction. The verdict is clear: we need strategies of resistance. Constantly tracked and hunted by the digital panopticon, we have no time for reverie, reflection, letting go, or just being. We desperately need Nothing, which is everything. Jenny shares details of her own liberation. Also, Susan Straight, author of In The Country of Women, returns to honor Toni Morrison by sharing how she has read her favorite book every single year since she was twelve, Morrison's luminous second novel, Sula.
Sep 20 2019
Rank #11: Ryan Holiday on Nick Denton, Peter Thiel, and the Conspiracy against Gawker
This week's LARB Podcast is a master class in 21st Century power relations, as Ryan Holiday discusses his sensational new book Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue with co-hosts Eric Newman and Kate Wolf. Befitting our time, this one episode has more salacious subterfuge than your favorite serial podcast: sex tapes, the blogosphere, rival visions of LGBTQ liberation, free speech wars, the crisis of journalism, and, in the end, the overwhelming force of an oligarch's money. To top it off, Ryan didn't merely have a front row seat, he was a player in the game. Also, to celebrate Mother's Day we asked three of our favorite Moms to recommend books. Heidi Newman chose Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck, Dr, Elena Ocher tapped Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, while Kate Wolf selected Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth.
May 10 2018
Rank #12: The Science of Fiction: David Naimon on Ursula K Le Guin
This week's podcast is an homage to Ursula K Le Guin from her final collaborator. David Naimon joins co-hosts Kate Wolf, Medaya Ocher, and Eric Newman and explains the backstory to his new book, Ursula K Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, a collection of dialogues with the legendary author from Naimon's literary podcast, Between the Covers. Le Guin died unexpectedly before Naimon had completed the project; thus, her mortality did not hang over the proceedings. Still, Naimon, a master interviewer, elicited reflections on the breadth of her work and thinking. In this conversation, he paints a resonant portrait of Le Guin as a generous, powerful, and fully-engaged person. Also, author Dan Lopez returns to recommend Lisa Halliday's novel, Asymmetry.
Jul 20 2018
Rank #13: Rebecca Makkai and the Burdens of History
Author Rebecca Makkai joins co-hosts Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher, and Kate Wolf to discuss her heralded new novel, The Great Believers, which tells two parallel and inter-related stories: one of the AIDS epidemic ravaging the Chicago gay community in the 1980s; the other, set in Paris in 2015, about a woman, Fiona, searching for her daughter, who has joined a cult. The connection is Fiona, who had become a caretaker for the men dying 30 years earlier in Chicago. Rebecca explains how she arrived at such a complex narrative structure (hint: it wasn't how the project started); as well as how she struggled with issues of cultural appropriation versus historical alliance. Also, Jenny Zhang, author of Sour Heart, returns to recommend the work of Tommy Pico, in particular his new book-length poem, Junk.
Jun 29 2018
Rank #14: The Body as Archive
Author Julietta Singh troubles the boundaries that we imagine in and through the body, recuperating it as a porous site marked by flows betwen the internal and external, the self and others. In a wide-ranging conversation about her new book, No Archive Will Restore You, Singh and hosts Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher, and Kate Wolf touch on gender, sexuality, parenting and navigating the world in and as a body. Also, LARB's Medaya Ocher recommends her favorite short story from this past year, The Cafe by Kristen Gleason, which appeared in the Romance Issue of LARB's quarterly journal.
Dec 07 2018
Rank #15: Junot Diaz Writes for a New Generation
What motivates a great novelist to write a children's book? Author Junot Diaz joins co-hosts Eric Newman and Kate Wolf to discuss the inspiration behind Islandborn, the story of five year-old Lola learning about her family's history and culture, beautifully illustrated by Leo Espinoza. What follows is a penetrating conversation about the severe under-representation of people of color in children's books, the long-overdue reckoning that needs to happen across society, the genius of diasporic literature, and the healing potential of stories for all ages, about all peoples, that convey universal human experience.
Also, Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket inspired LARB Radio's Dan Lopez to re-read, and highly recommend, Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy
Apr 12 2018
Rank #16: Natasha Stagg's Fashionworld Phantasmagoria
Kate Wolf talks with "It Girl" Natasha Stagg about her new essay collection from Semiotexte: Sleeveless: Fashion, Image, Media 2011-19. Natasha explains overcoming her reluctance to move to NYC, how she landed in the fashion world - simultaneously at its center and on the periphery - and what she discovered there. This most-priveleged sphere in the capital of the world is just part of the scenery: where the old is new again until the moment of re-interpretation passes; the thrill of creativity is tangible, yet nothing to get excited about; and it's most definitely post-Post-Modern yet pastiche, nostalgia, and appropriation remain the order of day. Telling tales of Late Capitalism in its interminable phase. The conversation also inspires Medaya Ocher, LARB's Managing Editor, to reveal details of her previous life as a Parisian fashion photographer. Also, Ariana Reines, author of the A Sand Book, returns to recommend two exceptional works of poetry, one old, one new: James Merrill's National Book Award winning epic from the late 70s, The Changing Light at Sandover; and Edgar Garcia's Skins of Columbus: A Dream Ethnography.
Nov 02 2019
Rank #17: Brooklyn's Loss is LA's Gain: Morgan Parker and Tommy Pico
Co-hosts Eric Newman and Kate Wolf talk with poets Morgan Parker and Tommy Pico about their respective new works, Magical Negro and Junk. Parker and Pico discuss how they use poetry to explore the experiences of oppressed communities, shuttling between the sublimity and nuance of everyday experiences and the larger cultural and political questions that saturate bodies, spaces and relations. They also talk about how their aesthetic practice has changed as they have moved into writing novels and screenplays.
Apr 04 2019
Rank #18: Three Cynics and a Funeral
Join LARB editors Kate Wolf, Medaya Ocher and Eric Newman for a special Valentine’s Day episode. In the first half of the show, we speak with Laurie Essig, author of Love Inc., an investigation into the ways in which the wedding, romance and dating industry have affected our lives and made us believe in happy endings, despite the world crumbling (or rather, melting) around our shoulders. Our second guest is long-time LARB veteran, Briallen Hopper, who talks to us about her new collection of essays, Hard to Love. We talk to Briallen about spinsters, singledom and how to throw the perfect Galentine’s party.
Feb 14 2019
Rank #19: William Cooper, Conspiracy Theories, and The Decline of the American Mind
Journalist and Author Mark Jacobson joins co-hosts Medaya Ocher and Eric Newman to discuss his timely new book, Pale Horse Rider: William Cooper, the Rise of Conspiracy, and the Fall of Trust in America. The result is a Trump-era gem: equally depressing and hilarious, with as much sociological and political insight as can be packed into one show. Jacobson addresses the phenomenal rise of conspiracy theory culture through the underground history of its most influential text, Behold a Pale Horse by William Cooper; who emerges as a sincere and at-least-somewhat redeemable character, the tragedy to Alex Jones' farce. The detour the conversation takes through Hip-Hop culture is worth the price of admission itself! Also, philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah returns once more to recommend a text he never tires of teaching, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty.
Nov 30 2018
Rank #20: Circling the Abyss: Talking to Sam Lipsyte, author of Hark
Sam Lipsyte talks to co-hosts Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher about his latest novel, Hark, which follows the exploits of an unlikely prophet named Hark and his acolytes, who think that they have found salvation in “mental archery”. Sam, Kate and Medaya discuss the appeal of gurus, the power of satire, and how to explain global warming to your kids. Sam Lipsyte is the author of author of Venus Drive, The Ask, Home Land, and The Fun Parts. He is also the Chair of the creative writing program at Columbia University. Also, Dan Lopez, author of The Show House, returns to recommend Stephen Hawking's Brief Answers to the Big Questions.
Feb 08 2019