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Marlon and Jake Read Dead People

Marlon and Jake Read Dead People is a podcast hosted by the Man Booker Prize-winning and internationally bestselling author Marlon James and his editor, Jake Morrissey, Executive Editor at Riverhead Books. In each episode, Marlon and Jake talk about authors—specifically dead authors. Authors they like. Authors they hate. Great books, terrible books, and books they love that you’d never expect them to. As a writer and an editor, Marlon and Jake have read thousands of books between them, and they’re not shy in expressing their opinions about them. Sometimes they’ll agree, sometimes they won’t, but in every episode, they’ll tell you what they think— uncensored and with no holds barred. (That’s why the authors have to be dead.) So, listen along to hear about the spectacularly good, the hilariously bad, and the brutally honest.

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Marlon and Jake Read Dead People is a podcast hosted by the Man Booker Prize-winning and internationally bestselling author Marlon James and his editor, Jake Morrissey, Executive Editor at Riverhead Books. In each episode, Marlon and Jake talk about authors—specifically dead authors. Authors they like. Authors they hate. Great books, terrible books, and books they love that you’d never expect them to. As a writer and an editor, Marlon and Jake have read thousands of books between them, and they’re not shy in expressing their opinions about them. Sometimes they’ll agree, sometimes they won’t, but in every episode, they’ll tell you what they think— uncensored and with no holds barred. (That’s why the authors have to be dead.) So, listen along to hear about the spectacularly good, the hilariously bad, and the brutally honest.

Season Two Teaser

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Marlon and Jake are back this summer for a second season

May 27 2021

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Goodbye for Now, but We'll Be Back!

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As Marlon and Jake wrap up Season 1 of Reading Dead People, they take a moment to reflect on what they've learned and what dead books and authors they want to discuss when they return for season two. So Marlon and Jake will be on a hiatus--they have some reading to do!--but fear not, they will be back soon to discuss the good, the bad and the everything in between. Until then, go read some dead people!!

Mar 17 2020

9mins

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Questions, Questions

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This week Marlon and Jake answer some of the questions that listeners have asked. What dead author or book did they initially hate but have come around to love? What is the best book by the worst dead author? And who is the most annoying character by a dead author? (Spoiler alert: Heathcliff. Obviously.) Along the way Jake confesses a lack of enthusiasm for William Faulkner and, yes, Virginia Woolf, while Marlon bemoans the insufferably boring Thomas Hardy and makes a plug for the poetic darkness of Shakespeare’s Richard III.  Their shared hatred of A Tale of Two Cities is back and stronger than ever. Will Jake re-read Absalom, Absalom!? Will Marlon let go of his Edith Wharton grudge? Should we take relationship advice from Jane Austen? Was D.H. Lawrence the 20th Century’s bridesmaid but never its bride?  Has the “Great Pirate Novel” been written? Tune in to learn the answers to these essential questions and so much more!

Select titles discussed in this episode:

  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  • Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  • Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  • Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  • Harvey by Mary Chase
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  • QB VII by Leon Uris
  • Airport by Arthur Hailey
  • The White Witch of Rosehall by Herbert G. de Lisser
  • The Black Sun by Lance Horner
  • Richard III by William Shakespeare
  • The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
  • Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
  • Pericles by William Shakespeare
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
  • Cymbeline by William Shakespeare
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  • The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
  • This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  • Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  • The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West
  • Stoner by John Williams
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  • The Ambassadors by Henry James
  • Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Mar 09 2020

46mins

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Trashy Novels To Die For

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This week Marlon and Jake dive into one of life’s great guilty pleasures: the trashy novel. Do such books provide intellectual stimulation or lessons on morality? Of course not. Nevertheless, Marlon and Jake extol the virtues of these irresistibly low-brow novels that they can’t get enough of, in the process asking: What makes a novel trashy and what makes it literary? If a book holds up a mirror to society, can it qualify as trash? What are the differences between trashy novels for women and trashy novels for men? From Peyton Place to Valley of the Dolls to the Falconhurst novels, Marlon and Jake get real about the wonderfully salacious plots, the ridiculously named characters, the gay subtexts, the surprising pathos, and all the sex. SO. MUCH. SEX. So literary snobs, be warned. For the rest of us, tune in to celebrate dead authors who have given us the gift of a shamelessly good read.

Select titles discussed in this episode:

  • The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins
  • The Falconhurst Series by Lance Horner, Kyle Onstott, and Ashley
    Carter
  • Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
  • The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe
  • Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
  • Shogun by James Clavell
  • The Executioner Series by Don Pendleton
  • The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Bad Seed by William March
  • Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Mar 02 2020

37mins

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Movies Made From Books by Dead People

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Marlon and Jake put on their Hollywood sunglasses as they discuss the films adapted from books by dead people. What makes a good movie adaptation? What translates from the page to the screen and what most definitely does not? Jake admits that The Exorcist is the most shocking novel and movie he’s ever encountered, and Marlon celebrates the unparalleled brilliance of Die Hard—which yes, was adapted from a novel, and which yes, Marlon has actually read. Jake (yet again) offends Marlon with his disdain for all things Hobbit and Marlon points to Angela’s Ashes as an example of the phenomenon of the “well-made bad movie.”  From the atrocious attempts to bring The Great Gatsby to the big screen to the unfortunate existence of Ewan McGregor’s American Pastoral, Marlon and Jake explore great books that were made into less-than-great films as well as bad books that made excellent movies. How did the messiness of Mario Puzo’s storytelling and prose make the perfection that is The Godfather films? How did an angry-animal thriller like Jaws become a horror movie classic? From The Princess Bride to A Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon and Jake debate what goes into a terrific – and a lousy – film adaptation. So grab your popcorn and Jujubes and settle back for one wild cinematic ride.

Select titles mentioned in this episode:

  • The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  • The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
  • Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  • American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
  • The Grifters by Jim Thompson
  • The Hobbit by J.R. R. Tolkien
  • Jaws by Peter Benchley
  • The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  • The Sicilian by Mario Puzo
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  • Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp

Feb 24 2020

41mins

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Memoir and Autobiography

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This week Marlon and Jake delve into the very real lives of very dead writers. From Gore Vidal to Frank McCourt, Ulysses S. Grant to Gabriel García Márquez, they discuss how memory compares to history and whether the trustworthiness of a memoir really matters if the book is a compelling read. Their discussion about WASPy realism leads them to debate whether John Cheever or John Updike is the better writer, and Marlon poses the scandalous question of whether Jane Austen lacked passion (gasp!). Whether they’re talking about philandering playwrights or humorous newspaper columnists, Marlon and Jake prove that truth really can be stranger than fiction.

Select titles mentioned in this episode:

  • Personal Memoirs by Ulysses Grant
  • Palimpsest by Gore Vidal
  • The Night of the Gun by David Carr
  • Act One by Moss Hart
  • Once in a Lifetime by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
  • The Man Who Came to Dinner by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
  • Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  • Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Rabbit Series (Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich and Rabbit
    At Rest) by John Updike
  • The Maples Stories by John Updike
  • The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • At Wit’s End by Erma Bombeck
  • If Life is a Bowl of Cherries by Erma Bombeck

Feb 17 2020

36mins

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Myths, Legends and Fables

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This week Marlon and Jake go back in time-way, way back-and revisit the myths and legends that have terrified and tantalized us for centuries. Gods and monsters. The powerful and the petty. The shape-shifting and the rampantly naked. From ancient Greece and Africa to Jamaica and Ireland, Marlon and Jake explore the world's myths and legends-how they persist and how we absorb, sanitize and subvert them. Whether it's Jason and the Golden Fleece, the trickster Anansi, or the non-consenting kiss in Sleeping Beauty, Marlon and Jake get real about fairy tales and folklore. And for all Black Leopard, Red Wolf fans, tune in to learn more about which of these traditions influenced Marlon's epic fantasy and how he's turning the wicked witch trope on its head in the trilogy's next novel!

Select titles mentioned in this episode:

  • The Greek Myths
  • The Labors of Hercules
  • Jason and the Golden Fleece
  • Daedelus and Icarus
  • Bullfinch's Mythology
  • African Myths of Origin
  • Anansi the Spider
  • Apep and Ra
  • Black Heart Man
  • Rolling Calf
  • Sukuyan
  • The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales
  • Snow White
  • Rapunzel
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Hansel and Gretel
  • The Twelve Dancing Princesses
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Little Match Girl
  • Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales
  • Irish Fairy and Folk Tales by William Butler Yeats

Feb 10 2020

44mins

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Epic Fantasy

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This week Marlon and Jake venture into fantasy: the imagined worlds of dead writers—from quests and dragons to magic carpets and pregnant kings. As they dive into the works of the giants of traditional fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, they discuss the influence both writers had on Marlon's own fantasy epic, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which was inspired by the epic traditions of Africa and writers like D.O. Fagunwa and Amos Tutuola. They debate how reading fantasy as a child differs from reading it as an adult, wonder why there aren't more female characters, and lament how fantasy is still mostly read by boys and men. From The Hobbit to Ursula K. Le Guin, the two have some very real takes on the make-believe. So tune in.

Select titles mentioned in this episode:

  • The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
  • The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
  • The Longships by Frans G. Bengtsson
  • My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Amos Tutuola
  • Forest of a Thousand Daemons by D.O. Fagunwa
  • The Lake Goddess by Flora Nwapa
  • The Sagas of the Icelanders
  • A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Feb 03 2020

41mins

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Dead Authors for a Desert Island

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Marlon and Jake are back-this time to discuss which dead author they'd take with them to a desert island to reread over and over again-as well as which ones they'd happily leave lost at sea. From the Jamaica of Wide Sargasso Sea to the lonely New England of Shirley Jackson, Marlon and Jake get fired up over the books they vehemently love and the ones they equally hate. Marlon explores his complicated love for James Clavell and the underappreciated wisdom of Pride & Prejudice's Charlotte Lucas, while Jake (unsuccessfully) attempts to convince Marlon that Agatha Christie is, in fact, not overrated. One thing they actually agree on?? That would be their passionate disdain for Wuthering Heights-and it's not pretty-so Emily Bronte lovers, consider yourself warned!

Included Titles:

  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  • The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson
  • Shogun by James Clavell
  • Tai-Pan by James Clavell
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

Jan 27 2020

46mins

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Literary Grudge Match

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Marlon and Jake kick off the first episode by taking on some literary giants in a grudge match for the ages. This time it's Charles Dickens vs. Anthony Trollope and Louisa May Alcott vs. Laura Ingalls Wilder in a no-holds-barred royal rumble. The two of them pull no punches, whether they're talking about racism or Edith Wharton's snobbery, colonialism or Hugh Grant's hair. So get ready to cheer on your favorite dead author and literary warrior as Marlon and Jake go mano a mano in a street fight you've definitely never come across before.

Select titles mentioned in this episode:

  • The Palliser Novels by Anthony Trollope
  • The Warden by Anthony Trollope
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  • The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • Maurice by E. M. Forster
  • Stuart Little by E.B. White
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway
  • Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Jan 27 2020

43mins

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Marlon and Jake Read Dead People Trailer

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Marlon and Jake Read Dead People is a podcast hosted by the Man Booker Prize-winning and internationally bestselling author Marlon James and his editor, Jake Morrissey, Executive Editor at Riverhead Books.

In each episode, Marlon and Jake talk about authors—specifically dead authors. Authors they like. Authors they hate. Great books, terrible books, and books they love that you’d never expect them to. As a writer and an editor, Marlon and Jake have read thousands of books between them, and they’re not shy in expressing their opinions about them. Sometimes they’ll agree, sometimes they won’t, but, in every episode, they’ll tell you what they think—uncensored and with no holds barred. (That’s why the authors have to be dead.) So listen along to hear about the spectacularly good, the hilariously bad, and the brutally honest.

Dec 18 2019

Play

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Love it

By BigReadingLife - Apr 03 2020
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Fun, intelligent conversation about authors, classics, and literary tropes and genres.

Great listen

By old and foul-mouthed - Mar 14 2020
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Would love to hear you discuss Barbara Pym. Men never can get through her and i love her.