The panic entered its crescendo the moment Therapist materialized on the screen. Sarah said a phone call would suit the conversation best and I said yes, that’s why I’ve been calling. Conflict, huge or puny, needs to be resolved quick–even at the  other party’s expense. I dislike the small cruelties I do when I’m not understood. Shy texted an axolotl and said she’d been meaning to call. Sarah understood “you don’t have to” as “do not” when I said “you don’t have to” as in “you don’t have to call although it’d mean the world if you did.” I sent Shy a string of  voice messages to demonstrate we weren’t having the conversation she thought we were having. I felt no coldness against my tooth, no electricity inside it, so I must get a second root canal before my cheek bulges with more pus. I messaged Jackie on Facebook: 

yo i cracked code of why so many of my friend being weird and cold 

it’s so simple it is dumb 

i need to express: “you hurt me. but not through anything actively malicious on your part. don’t hold any animosity toward you. it will take me some time to heal and regain trust but you are my friend and i am yours and i love you and things are normal.” 

And people don’t listen why i try to communicate that. there’s a talking over, cutting off, defensiveness

which frustrates me but my frustration isn’t directed towards them but rather just the situation of not being able  to make myself heard 

which ends up just reinforcing each party’s false  

perceptions 

(my friends are being neglectful and careless / steven is irrationally upset with me for something i have no control  over) 

when neither is the actual case 

but they become the case because i can’t express that they aren’t 

Gina Nutt is the author of the essay collection Night Rooms, available now from Two Dollar Radio.

 

Nutt’s other books include the poetry collection Wilderness Champion and two chapbooks—Here Is My Adventure I Call it Alone and Ars Herzogica (dancing girl press). Her writing has appeared in online and print journals, including Cosmonauts Avenue, Joyland, Ninth Letter, and Salt Hill. Poems have appeared on Verse Daily and in the Best of the Net Anthology. She graduated from Syracuse University’s MFA program in Creative Writing and lives in New York.

***

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

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I have never read Andre Dubus III, but I did once sit next to him on a bench on Remsen Street in Brooklyn. Understand that I have nothing against Andre Dubus III, nor am I uninterested in Andre Dubus III’s books. I am even relatively sure that, were I to read a book by Andre Dubus III, I would enjoy it. I bet there’s good stuff in there. But there is a lot to read that isn’t Andre Dubus III; I am sure even Andre Dubus III would understand that and, by the way, I did not know the man I was sitting next to was Andre Dubus III at the time. I did know he was someone. Some people—people, for instance, like Andre Dubus III—have this kind of distinguished look. I was on that bench waiting for my partner to bring me a cup of coffee that neither of us would have had to pay for, which was in a room that I did not have access to but that my partner did, because she was important and I was not. The man sitting next to me, who again I did not know was Andre Dubus III, was drinking this very coffee, but I didn’t know that either. When my partner arrived with the coffee, however, I saw it was the same brown and white paper cup that held Andre Dubus III’s coffee, and I also noticed that my partner smiled professionally at Andre Dubus III and that Andre Dubus III smiled professionally back in recognition, and so I realized definitively, though not exactly, that the man seated next to me on this bench was important, and that we were drinking the same important coffee. Andre Dubus III made room for my partner on the bench, but she did have to get back to the important room to do important things with important people: important people who had, like Andre Dubus III, received or been nominated for major literary accolades, held prominent staff positions at important writing programs, and even had their work adapted for the big screen, as with Andre Dubus III’s 1999 novel House of Sand and Fog, which was adapted into a film of the same name in 2003. My partner and I talked somewhat blandly about how our days were going, and I sipped my coffee in a way I hoped sounded appreciative of her time—though the coffee was actually too hot, and, actually, it burned my tongue—while at the same time, now that I was sitting closer to him, I was trying to see what Andre Dubus III was reading, which I remember as being one of his own books, perhaps even 1999’s House of Sand and Fog, which is his second novel, but I think that this is just my memory, because I want to remember that this man was Andre Dubus III through the entire scene of this memory despite this actually being an imposition on the memory because at the time, in the present tense of this memory, I did not know that this man was Andre Dubus III, and it is not as though there was something particularly Andre Dubus III about him in an adjectival sense, though of course he looks like the photo on his books, and I suppose it is possible that the distinctive quality I previously attributed to him was a partial recognition of this fact that I had surely seen Andre Dubus III’s books before in bookstores around Brooklyn, which is where we were. I was so intently focused on staring at the running head of the book that he was reading that I did not realize Andre Dubus III was staring back at me, and then I did not realize he was not staring at me but at my coffee, which was also his coffee, and then, but actually, staring at a bee just then hovering over my coffee, a bee which I did not realize was there until I tried raising my coffee to my lips, which I did mostly for the movement, for something to do with my radically misplaced body, and not because I wanted to burn my tongue again, and anyway I did not complete the movement because of the bee, who had captured Andre Dubus III’s attention. The bee hovered only another moment over the surface of the coffee then dove into it directly and drowned. All three of us—Andre Dubus III, my partner, and I—stared, surprised, at its body floating in my coffee. Andre Dubus III spoke first. He said, “That was weird.” My partner and I agreed, and Andre Dubus III continued: “Absolutely no instinct for self-preservation. I think he wanted to go.” My partner apologized then, because she had to return to the room for important people where someone important needed her, and apologized again because she could not get me another cup of coffee. She left me with Andre Dubus III, whom she waved goodbye to slightly, but who did not look up, busy as he was staring at the bee, in my coffee. “Incredible,” he said. “Absolutely Incredible.” I think part of the reason this event was so incredible to Andre Dubus III was because he was surely someone concerned about the bees, who were at the time dying en masse to the great anxiety of many scientists and bee-lovers. We were all concerned about the bees, and we—Andre Dubus III and I—were concerned together, but I had no more reason to sit on that bench on Remsen Street in Brooklyn, so I got up. I still held the coffee, and Andre Dubus III still stared at it, and I felt like I had to say something so I said instead that I hoped no bees would fly into his own coffee, that no more bees would die so uselessly when we really did need to save the bees. It was only when I checked my phone, blocks away but for some reason still carrying this coffee—still very much concerned about the bee floating dead inside that coffee—did I see that my partner had asked me if I knew who that had been on that bench. That is when I learned what you have known all this time—when, in effect, I catch up to you: holding the coffee with the dead bee in one hand, my phone in the other, reading a text message, actually holding this coffee and this text message out to you. 

Mik Grantham is the author of the debut poetry collection Hardcore, available from Short Flight / Long Drive Books.

Grantham is the founder and co-editor of Disorder Press which she runs with her brother. Her work has appeared in New World WritingHobartMaudlin HouseThe Nervous Breakdown, and Fanzine. She currently lives in New Orleans. Hardcore is her first book.

***

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.

www.otherppl.com

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@otherppl

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

Patricia Engel is the author of the novel Infinite Country, available from Avid Reader Press. It is the official April pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Engel is the author of The Veins of the Ocean, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, winner of the International Latino Book Award; and Vida, a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway and Young Lions Fiction Awards, New York Times Notable Book, and winner of Colombia’s national book award, the Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana. She is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her stories appear in The Best American Short StoriesThe Best American Mystery StoriesThe O. Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. Born to Colombian parents, Patricia teaches creative writing at the University of Miami.

***

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.

Andrea Bajani is the author of the novel If You Kept a Record of Sinsavailable from Archipelago Books. It was translated from the Italian by Elizabeth Harris.

 

Bajani is one of the most respected and award-winning novelists and poets of contemporary Italian literature. He is the author of four novels and two collections of poems. If You Kept a Record of Sins has brought him a great deal of attention. In just a few months, the book won the Super Mondello Prize, the Brancati Prize, the Recanati Prize and the Lo Straniero Prize. His works have been translated into many languages, and published by some of the most prestigious European publishers, such as Gallimard, Siruela, MacLehose, Atheneum, DTV, Humanitas. He now lives in Houston and teaches at Rice University.

***

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

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

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

Shannon McLeod is the author of the novella Whimsyavailable from Long Day Press.

 

McLeod is also the author of the essay chapbook Pathetic (University of Indianapolis Etchings Press). Her writing has appeared in Tin House Online, Wigleaf, Hobart, Joyland Magazine, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Prairie Schooner, among other publications. She teaches high school English in Virginia.

***

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

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

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

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

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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

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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.