@

It’s hard to imagine anything more terrifying than writing historical fiction. The opportunity to get it wrong, whether the feeling of a place or a time or a person, seems like an insurmountable barrier, before the writing even begins. Creating historical fiction becomes more than simply writing, it becomes research: the reading of books and interviews, listening of transcripts, visiting the locations, trying as best you can to express even a micron of the magic in someone’s life in clumsy, fallible words. Not to mention the issue of the author’s own voice – have they been able to present an accurate depiction of the subject’s life, beyond their own stylistic prejudices? Or worse, has the author merely recited events without the kind of flavor or fervor necessary to engaging reading? It is truly a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation, where the very best examples somehow manage to walk the edge of the knife, a strange feat of authorial alchemy that features all these seemingly-contradictory things in perfect balance. To achieve this remarkable result, it helps if the author and the subject share a kind of kinship, where personalities meet across backgrounds, discipline, and centuries to create something simultaneously unique and seamless.

holiday-spectacular-feature

This is the second annual Holiday Spectacular episode of the Otherppl with Brad Listi podcast. The guests are Melissa Broder, Gene and Jenny Morgan, Amelia Gray and Lee Shipman, Ben Loory, Rich Ferguson, and Adam Greenfield. Recorded on December 10, 2016.

 

Get the free Otherppl app.

Listen via iTunes.

Support the show at Patreon.

PS. Here are links to some things discussed in the show:

Prince on Arsenio Hall, 1991

Jimmy Stewart reads a poem about his dog on The Tonight Show

graynicksplash

NICK ANTOSCA:  Okay, normally they do self-interviews here, where the author just interviews him- or herself.  But I didn’t want to do that, so in this case two authors are going to interview each other. We both have books out.  Mine is The Girlfriend Game, a collection of stories which came out last month.  Yours is Threats, a novel which came out last year and was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner.  We both live in Los Angeles.  We both moved here in the last few years.

It seems like a lot of writers are moving out here.  I came because I wanted to write for TV.  Why did you come?  A disproportionate number of serial killers have lived in Southern California.  Why do you think that is?

We drove across Colorado, Utah, a touch of Nevada, and Arizona. I brought several books with me to read on our road-trip to southern California—Blake Butler’s Nothing, Amelia Gray’s Threats, Anne-Marie Kinney’s Radio Iris, and Eileen Myles’s Snowflake / Different Streetsand though I was anxious for each of these new titles, for whatever reason, I started with Myles, reading Snowflake / Different Streets in the morning fog and afternoon sun of Santa Ana. From there, everything unraveled.

A round-up of high quality tweets from people in the world of literature…

 Amelia Gray:

 

“I WILL CROSS- STITCH AN IMAGE OF YOUR FUTURE HOME BURNING. I WILL HANG THIS IMAGE OVER YOUR BED WHILE YOU SLEEP.”

The debut novel by Amelia Gray, entitled THREATS (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is an unsettling and hypnotic story of loss, disintegration and the ways that love both builds and destroys us, anchors us, and alternately, lets us drift away. This is not conventional storytelling, but if you’ve read Gray’s work already (Museum of the Weird and AM/PM) then this will come as no surprise. To call this a detective story would be limiting. You have to jump in with both feet into the freezing waters, no easing a toe beneath the surface to see if the water is indeed water, to see if everything is safe. Nothing is safe, or reliable, and often others don’t have our best interests at heart.

The first time I met Amelia Gray was at the release party for Scorch Atlas (Featherproof) by Blake Butler, here in Chicago. Amelia read “Go For It and Raise Hell” and I knew immediately after her reading that I was going to be a fan of her work. I picked up a copy of AM/PM (Featherproof) after the show and read it the next week. The following year when I went to AWP Denver, and had the chance to hear her read again, she apologized that she was going to be reading “Go For It and Raise Hell” again, but to me, it was like going to see a rock band you love, and hearing your favorite song. I knew what was coming, and that her reading, her performance, would be epic. Imagine:

Carl is coated in the filth of the world. He sees that you never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.”

BROKEN GLASS PARK

Broken Glass Park cover art

When a writer is said to be “huge in Germany,” I inevitably picture a nerdy American teen who claims to have a “girlfriend” in Canada—a distinction both dubious and impossible to confirm. However, in the case of Alina Bronsky, I can safely report not only that her debut novel Broken Glass Park (Europa Editions, 2010) is huge in Germany but that the book—unlike, say, David Hasselhoff’s music—is deserving of its popularity.