Gina Frangello is the author of the memoir Blow Your House Down, available from Counterpoint Press.

This is Gina’s second time on the program. She first appeared in Episode 16 on November 9, 2011.

Frangello’s other books include Every Kind of WantingA Life in MenSlut Lullabies, and My Sister’s Continent. Her short fiction, essays, book reviews, and journalism have been published in PloughsharesThe Boston GlobeChicago TribuneHuffPostFenceFive ChaptersPrairie SchoonerChicago Reader, and many other publications. She lives with her family in the Chicago area.

***

Otherppl with Brad Listi is a weekly literary podcast featuring in-depth interviews with today’s leading writers.

Launched in 2011. Books. Literature. Writing. Publishing. Authors. Screenwriters. Life. Death. Etc.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

www.otherppl.com

@otherppl

Instagram

YouTube

Email the show: letters [at] otherppl [dot] com

The podcast is a proud affiliate partner of Bookshop, working to support local, independent bookstores.

This episode first aired on March 27, 2013.

 

It is being reposted in memory of Giancarlo DiTrapano (1974-2021), founder and publisher of Tyrant Books. He died unexpectedly on March 30 in New York City. No official cause of death has been reported as of yet.

I didn’t know Gian well, but I did know him a bit. He was always kind, always memorable. One of the few true originals out there, and certainly an original in the world of publishing. He did very good work and helped shepherd the publication of books that will far outlive him. He made a positive difference in the world.

My heartfelt condolences to his friends and family. He will be greatly missed.

-BL

Hari Kunzru is the author of the novel Red Pillavailable now from Knopf.

 

This is Hari’s second time on the program. He first appeared in Episode 57, on April 1, 2012.

Born in London, he is the author of the novels The ImpressionistTransmissionMy RevolutionsGods Without Men, and White Tears, as well as a short story collection, Noise, and a novella, Memory Palace. He is an honorary fellow of Wadham College Oxford, and has received fellowships from the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Academy in Berlin. He is the host of the podcast Into The Zone, coming in September from Pushkin Industries, and lives in New York City.

***

Otherppl with Brad Listi is a weekly literary podcast featuring in-depth interviews with today’s leading writers.

Launched in 2011. Books. Literature. Writing. Publishing. Authors. Screenwriters. Life. Death. Etc.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

www.otherppl.com

@otherppl

Instagram

YouTube

Email the show: letters [at] otherppl [dot] com

The podcast is a proud affiliate partner of Bookshop, working to support local, independent bookstores.

 

Back in October of 2020, Brian Alan Ellis sent me Body High, Jon Lindsey’s first novel. Brian was excited for his press (House of Vlad) to publish it, and I was excited to read it. The cover is gross, and I like gross things. But the pandemic had made a mess of my work life, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to it. I did get to it a few months later, and by the time I finished it, I was almost sad that I hadn’t read it earlier. It’s a book unlike any other. It’s got wrestling, an ass infection, incest, druggy wild-goose-chases through L.A., a dog named Flaubert, plot twists and surprises, and at the heart of it all, a dead mother and a grieving son. It’s dead serious and difficult, and it’s also funny as hell.

 

Over the next few months, Jon and I  emailed back and forth about the book, why we write, sexual abuse and incest (some of which was edited out for privacy), suffering—you know, the easy stuff. But, like the book, Jon is funny, and not afraid to make fun of himself. “One time,” he told me, “I tried to shoot a bottle rocket out of my butt crack and got a burn scar shaped like a heart on my ass. That scar was the most beautiful thing I ever made, until Body High.” At the end of our conversation, he calls himself a “born quitter,” but I don’t buy it. When you read Body High, you won’t buy it either.

Get your copy of Body High right here.


 

 

Lindsay Lerman: I want to start here: Let’s talk about mothers. Or maybe “the figure of the mother” if you’d like to keep it abstract. I found it really, really moving how the mother is kind of the heart (at least a big part of the heart) of the book. Some of the most heartbreaking and difficult scenes in the book are the ones in which Leland is confronting the ghost(s) of his mother, and his past with her. In this respect, there’s *so much* presence through absence in the book. For you, what’s going on with all this?

 

Jon Lindsey: I started writing Body High after my mom’s first attempt at suicide.

Looking back, I think that writing the book was an attempt to prepare for her death. Or duck it.

I was too poor for therapy. I was incredibly emotionally inarticulate but considered myself a writer and wanted to write a book. I was also terrified to write about my mother, because her attempt at suicide was in retribution for something I said. So when she survived, the situation we found ourselves in was … awkward. Her: not really wanting to live, threatening to kill herself all the time. Me: wrecked with guilt.

For years, while I did everything I could to keep my mom alive, I sputtered writing scenes that I considered fun: robbing sperm banks, drug deals, pro-wrestling. But I was writing around “the heart of the book”—the mother.

There’s a reason the book opens at the funeral of the mother. I figured if the mother was dead then I could avoid her. I could stash the mother’s character, as well as my own complicated feelings about my mom—who was constantly breaking my heart—in the margins of the story, a grave.

Predictably, the book was trash. I would give drafts to writers I respected, and afterward they would avoid me at parties.

Only when I began to write into the pain, of memory, of my mom and myself, could the book emerge from my body. Only then could readers take seriously the questions I wanted the book to ask: How is trauma transmitted? How does the sexual abuse suffered by a mother affect her son? Is incest inherited?

“When can I read your book?” My mom would ask me constantly.

“When it’s published,” I’d say, to put her off, sometimes feeling like it never would be published.

But shortly after I finished writing the final draft, my mom killed herself.

And now the book is publishing. And she’s not here to read it. But in a way, she is it.

Damaged from childhood, she was alienated from her body. Her emotions were ugly. There wasn’t ever any space for her in the world of the normal. She was someone who grossed out normal people. I hope Body High does the same.

 

The alley I walk most mornings was, this morning, puddle blocked, so I assessed, testing different spots with boot, each spot equal in coldness, in depth, so I stood strategizing way longer than it would’ve taken to just walk around the block and avoid all three  miserable, wet, leaps. I vented an indescribable emotion to a friend who, after hearing my description, said, “That’s just longing,” and I said, “Oh yeah, duh.” The Uber driver spoke so soothingly a language through Bluetooth, the hangup cut sharp–I  wanted him to call someone else, it was the only thing today that calmed me, but he didn’t, and I didn’t strike a conversation because what would I say? I haven’t been able to read books for over a year, haven’t been able to watch films for over a month, so, for the first time ever, I’m listening to every album I’ve never heard. In therapy yesterday, we hit an impasse when she asked if there was anything I could tell someone that I wouldn’t write here because that might be a way of achieving the form of intimacy I need, and I said no, because there isn’t. It seems a senseless timewaste to be anything but transparent and fully vulnerable. The American economy is designed to make people pay for their own sadness.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Tod Goldberg. His critically acclaimed new story collection, The Low Desert, is available from Counterpoint.

 

This is Tod’s third time on the program. He first appeared in Episode 320 on October 12, 2014, and again in Episode 488, on October 18, 2017.

Goldberg is the author of more than a dozen books, including Gangsterland, a finalist for the Hammett Prize; Gangster Nation; The House of Secrets, which he coauthored with Brad Meltzer; and the crime-tinged novels Living Dead Girl, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Fake Liar Cheat, plus five novels in the popular Burn Notice series. He is also the author of the story collection Simplify, a 2006 finalist for the SCIBA Award for Fiction and winner of the Other Voices Short Story Collection Prize, and Other Resort Cities. His essays, journalism, and criticism have appeared in many publications, including the Los Angeles TimesThe Wall Street JournalLos Angeles Review of BooksLas Vegas Weekly, and Best American Essays, among many others, and have won five Nevada Press Association Awards. He lives in Indio, California, where he directs the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Riverside.

***

Otherppl with Brad Listi is a weekly literary podcast featuring in-depth interviews with today’s leading writers.

Launched in 2011. Books. Literature. Writing. Publishing. Authors. Screenwriters. Life. Death. Etc.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

www.otherppl.com

@otherppl

Instagram

YouTube

Email the show: letters [at] otherppl [dot] com

The podcast is a proud affiliate partner of Bookshop, working to support local, independent bookstores.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Yamen Manai. He is the author of the novel The Ardent Swarm, available now from Amazon Crossing. Winner of the Prix Comar d’Or and the Prix des Cinq Continents, it is the official March pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Manai was born in 1980 in Tunis and currently lives in Paris. Both a writer and an engineer, Manai explores the intersections of past and present, and tradition and technology, in his prose. In The Ardent Swarm (originally published as L’Amas ardent), his first book to be translated into English, he celebrates Tunisia’s rich oral culture, a tradition abounding in wry, often fatalistic humor. He has published three novels with the Tunisia-based Elyzad Editions–a deliberate choice to ensure that his books are accessible to Tunisian readers: La marche de l’incertitude (2010), awarded Tunisia’s prestigious Prix Comar d’Or; La sérénade d’Ibrahim Santos (2011); and L’Amas ardent (2017), which earned both the Prix Comar d’Or and the Prix des Cinq Continents, a literary prize recognizing exceptional Francophone literature.

* * *

Otherppl with Brad Listi is a weekly literary podcast featuring in-depth interviews with today’s leading writers.

Launched in 2011. Books. Literature. Writing. Publishing. Authors. Screenwriters. Life. Death. Etc.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

www.otherppl.com

@otherppl

Instagram

YouTube

Email the show: letters [at] otherppl [dot] com

The podcast is a proud affiliate partner of Bookshop, working to support local, independent bookstores.

Vesna Maric is the author of the debut novel The President Shop (Sandorf Passage).

 

Maric was born in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 1976. She left the country at sixteen as part of a convoy of refugees bound for the Lake District in England. She attended University College London and later went on to work for the BBC World Service. She now writes Lonely Planet travel guides, translates literary fiction and non-fiction from Croatian into English, and writes a variety of journalism for publications including the Guardian. Vesna has collaborated with various artists, including Jane and Louise Wilson, and art projects at the Tate Modern’s Who Are We? project. Her memoir, Bluebird, was published by Granta in 2009, and was longlisted for The Orwell Prize. She lives in Madrid.

***

Otherppl with Brad Listi is a weekly literary podcast featuring in-depth interviews with today’s leading writers.

Launched in 2011. Books. Literature. Writing. Publishing. Authors. Screenwriters. Life. Death. Etc.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

www.otherppl.com

@otherppl

Instagram 

Email the show: letters [at] otherppl [dot] com

The podcast is a proud affiliate partner of Bookshop, working to support local, independent bookstores.

 

The Big Bang Never Happened

 

Turtle shells and yarrow stalks became Chinese
tools of divination. Metagalaxy and antimatter
appeared in books. Mom said I get upset
because I think too much. Everything is spinning.
Cities torture trees. Suburbs farm powerlines.
Cats and birds are always cleaning themselves.
The universe is bigger and older than we thought.
Two galaxies can collide with no star collisions.
Mom said the less we think the happier we’ll become.
Little gifts from her made me cry years later.
All my prior selves seem unconscious later on.
Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies is an American book.

 


artwork by Tao Lin

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Melissa Broder. Her new novel, Milk Fed, is available from Scribner.

 

 

This is Melissa’s fourth time on the podcast. She first appeared in Episode 58 on April 4, 2012. Her second appearance was in Episode 404 on March 13, 2016. Her third appearance came in Episode 519, on May 9, 2018.

Broder’s other books include the novel The Piscesthe essay collection So Sad Today, and five poetry collections, including Superdoom: Selected Poems (Summer 2021) and Last Sext.

Broder has written for The New York Times, Elle.com, VICE, Vogue Italia, and New York Magazine’s The Cut. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Iowa ReviewGuernicaFence,  et al. She is the winner of a Pushcart Prize for poetry.

She lives in Los Angeles.

***

Otherppl with Brad Listi is a weekly literary podcast featuring in-depth interviews with today’s leading writers.

Launched in 2011. Books. Literature. Writing. Publishing. Authors. Screenwriters. Life. Death. Etc.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@otherppl

Instagram

Email the show: letters [at] otherppl [dot] com

The podcast is a proud affiliate partner of Bookshop, working to support local, independent bookstores.

 

Most everyone, myself included, considers each new year the blank slate it isn’t. Yesterday, I woke in the afternoon, Green Day’s Dookie playing on loop from my iPhone; I listened to it 4 times through, then turned it off, then did nothing. New Year’s Eve, I’d passed out, listening, apparently, to Green Day’s Dookie, after reading the first twelve months of this book to a muted Zoom room. Moments I’d forgotten, or else repressed, caught me off-guard and I choked with the onset of potential unraveling—then read the next sentence, and the next, until the feeling left. I’d been sipping beers so I burped a lot as I compacted my 2020 into under two hours for the audience—an act I’d expected would be cathartic, an act that was cathartic, but also not. Today, a girl on the bus flicked through Twitter, briefly enlarging a photo of a man hanging a Celtic-cross-repurposed-as-white-supremacist-symbol flag from a column inside the US Capitol, then exited the app to open Candy Crush. It’s terrorizing, how many times I’ve seen this face-painted doofus Viking, versus the video of the journalist yanked and dragged through the murder-eyed MAGA mob, or the photoset of the DC woman tortured on her walk home, both of which, only once. How convenient I enter my worst headspaces on Fridays when therapy’s on Thursdays. An Instagram with an Aahhh!!! Real Monsters profile picture DMed to say they’d figured out how they knew me—it involved a party, an old friend, alcohol, a conversation about writing, a red kitchen, and a cool bathroom. I’m going through something I’ve named The Thought Crisis which, when thought or talked about, only reinforces itself.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with David Tromblay. His new memoir, As You Were, is available from Dzanc Books. It is the official February pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Tromblay served in the U.S. Armed Forces for over a decade before attending the Institute of American Indian Arts for his MFA in Creative Writing. He’s since written and published a memoir and three novels. His other books include The Essentials: A Manifesto and The Ramblings of a Revenant. He currently works as an editor for Shotgun Honey Magazine and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with his cat, Walter, and dogs, Bentley and Hank.

***

Otherppl with Brad Listi is a weekly literary podcast featuring in-depth interviews with today’s leading writers.

Launched in 2011. Books. Literature. Writing. Publishing. Authors. Screenwriters. Life. Death. Etc.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@otherppl

Instagram

Email the show: letters [at] otherppl [dot] com

The podcast is a proud affiliate partner of Bookshop, working to support local, independent bookstores.

Webs

By Rob Kaniuk

Short Story

 

A hot woman followed me on Twitter, but it seemed suspect. I clicked her profile. She was a barista in LA who wrote screenplays. Attractive. Funny. Definitely not real. 

My friend Jenn texted me to ask why I didn’t follow her bot back. Said she made it with some Mad Libs style template that would shuffle all the words and phrases she uploaded and the bot would fire off a nonsense movie idea every hour.

 

Does it respond if someone comments?

 

Yeah, like, she calls me master when I reply, but she calls everyone else babe.

 

Oh shit––I should make one to resurrect Jeremy.

 

Oh god, that’s so sad and creepy––Yeah, and I’ll make one for my mother that tweets the lyrics to ‘Hallelujah’ in a never ending loop and says she’s proud of me when I post about my b-hole. 

 

For a few days I laughed at the concept, played it off, then found myself digging through the ammo box jammed full of letters Jeremy sent from prison. I called Bekah.

“Yo, if I gave you all those letters, would you do me a favor?”

“From him?”

“Yeah.”

“Whatcha thinkin?”

“I just want to make, like, a digital file.”

“All of em? Dude, there’s gotta be like two hundred letters.”

“Can you do it?”

“Why can’t you? No offense.”

“Can you help or not?”

I dropped off the ammo box full of letters from different addresses within the Florida State Corrections system. I told her how to fill the templates with all his -isms. Bekah was the only one capable. She knew the way he spoke and wouldn’t clean up any of the poor grammar or correct words like set to sit

Weeks went by and I wanted to call and see if she’d made any progress, but I didn’t. It was a lot to wade through. We spoke a few times––their daughter had been enrolled in preschool and started saying goodnight to her daddy’s picture before bed––but I didn’t bring up the ammo box.

The week of Father’s Day, she texted me:

 

You still got those recordings?

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Candace Jane Opper, author of the debut memoir Certain and Impossible Events. It was selected by Cheryl Strayed as the winner of the Kore Press Memoir Award.

 

Opper is a writer, a mother, and an occasional visual artist. She grew up in the woods of Southern Connecticut. Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Longreads, Guernica, Creative Nonfiction, LitHub, Narratively, Brevity, and Vestoj, among others. She is a Creative Nonfiction Foundation Fellowship recipient and a member on the advisory council for Write Pittsburgh, a program collective that empowers writers to amplify their voices and strengthen their communities. Certain and Impossible Events is her first book.

Instagram

Email the show: letters [at] otherppl [dot] com

The podcast is a proud affiliate partner of Bookshop, working to support local, independent bookstores.