Lidia-Yuknavitch-The-Book-of-Joan

Lidia Yuknavitch is the guest. Her new novel, The Book of Joan, is available now from Harper. It is the official April selection of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

This is Lidia’s third appearance on the podcast. She first appeared on August 5, 2012, in Episode 93, and again on July 15, 2015, in Episode 370. All episodes can be streamed free of charge.

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Brad Listi (BL): Three minutes, ladies and gentlemen.

Stewart O’Nan (SO): Gotta warm up my Magic 8-ball.

BL: (He’s not referring to cocaine, ladies and gentlemen.)

SO: I was gonna say — not a Belushi reference.

Some years ago, I returned to Miami, where I spent the early Nineties eating Cuban and sexually humiliating myself. I was there to teach a seminar, the subject of which was –- if I’m remembering this correctly -– How to Never Sell More Than 1000 Copies of Any Book You Ever Write.



By request, we’re gonna open up a thread for those who have finished Room and want to discuss the full novel.  So a spoiler alert for any TNB Book Club members who have not yet had a chance to finish.  Do not read the comment board on this thread.


The beginning, of Paul and me, was as natural as anything. We met for the first time at one of Henry’s birthday bashes. He threw them every year, starting on his sixteenth. Neither Dr. Lee nor my father was crazy about it, but they preferred he held it at our house as opposed to somewhere else, where God knows what would happen, and agreed to go away overnight as long as I was there to monitor and keep it under control. I’m not sure why he was so set on it, why he looked forward to it; since every year, without fail, about midway into the festivities he’d get very depressed, because of who didn’t show, or who left early—either the girl he was chasing or the one he’d just broken up with—and then he got very, very drunk.

Chapter I

 

Part of my job is to read your face, and I think I know what your face says now. You are wondering something about me. Do I guess right? You wonder if I am like all Thai people. You wonder what bad things happen in my life. You wonder if I sell heroin, smoke opium—what it’s like to be me. And you wonder what I think about you, right? Sure. There’s no movie theater here. One video plays, but I think you see that one already, maybe in Bangkok, maybe in Chiang Mai, maybe in your home. That one plays everywhere. It’s making you feel bored. You have time to imagine. So please. Stay. I will tell you, no problem. Opium? Heroin? I’m sorry, no. But I can tell you about the bad thing. Something about danger. Something about love. That’s what you want, right? Okay. If you stay, I can tell you some story about me.

Wow. Can’t believe I’m here with you.

Get over it, kid.

Let’s start with a softball question. What’s your happiest memory?

I don’t think I can point to a single moment as happiest, but there are periods I would cite, like the year I lived in Serbia.

You were famous there.

I was, yeah. I’d acted in a movie entitled Rat uživoWar Live in English—and there was a lot of publicity for it. I flew back for the premiere, and my first day in Belgrade, I noticed that people on the street were staring at me. I didn’t know how much publicity there’d been, so it took me a while to realize why people were staring. I thought, Did my nose fall off, or did I somehow become incredibly attractive overnight? Then it dawned on me that I was being recognized.

Making Rat Uzivo