>  
 

Sloane Crosley is the author of the novel Cult Classic, available from MCD/FSG.

 

Crosley is the author of The New York Times bestselling essay collections, I Was Told There’d Be Cake (a 2009 finalist for The Thurber Prize for American Humor) and How Did You Get This Number, as well as Look Alive Out There (a 2019 finalist for The Thurber Prize for American Humor) and the bestselling novel, The Clasp. She served as editor of The Best American Travel Writing series and is featured in The Library of America’s 50 Funniest American Writers, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Phillip Lopate’s The Contemporary American Essay and others. She was the inaugural columnist for The New York Times Op-Ed “Townies” series, a contributing editor at Interview Magazine, and a columnist for The Village Voice, Vanity Fair, The Independent, Black Book, Departures and The New York Observer. She is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Her next nonfiction book, Grief Is for People, will be published in 2023. She 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. Etc.

Available where podcasts are available: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, etc.

Subscribe to Brad Listi’s email newsletter.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@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.

Abbigail Nguyen Rosewood is the author of the novel Constellations of Eve, available from DVAN/UTTP. It is the official June pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Rosewood was born in Vietnam, where she lived until the age of twelve. Her debut novel, If I Had Two Lives, has been hailed as “a tale of staggering artistry” by the Los Angeles Review of Books and “a lyrical, exquisitely written novel” by the New York Journal of BooksThe New Yorker called it “a dangerous fantasy world” that “double haunts the novel.” Her short fiction and essays can be found at Electric LitLitHubCatapultThe Southampton ReviewThe Brooklyn ReviewColumbia Journal, and The Adroit Journal, among others. In 2019, her hybrid writing was featured in a multimedia art and poetry exhibit at Eccles Gallery. Her fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best American Short Story 2020. She is the founder of Neon Door, a forthcoming immersive literary exhibit.

***

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. Etc.

Available where podcasts are available: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, etc.

Subscribe to Brad Listi’s email newsletter.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@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.

 

The day before I left for camp, my therapist asked me—point-blank—if, given the chance, I would have sex before marriage. Just like that. I wanted to be offended at the given the chance part, but truth was she was the only person who knew—or to whom I would ever admit—that I hadn’t even kissed a girl. And here she was asking about sex. 

I slouched into the overstuffed chair, thought about it. Thought about God—what it would mean if he existed and I did it, or if he existed and I didn’t, or if he didn’t exist at all. I thought about his judgment and I thought about Erika naked. I thought about the way she bent over, not with her ass but her knees, daintily, the way she seemed to float when she went down to pick up a pencil or a rock or a soccer ball. I thought about the way she moved—with grace—and I wondered if God had any left for me.

I don’t know, I answered. Maybe.

Erika was from Santa Rosa. We went to camp together. Week five every year. Before that, it was week three. She with her church. Me with mine. It really was remarkable the way we found each other year after year, especially considering there were six weeks of camp, six opportunities to get the dates wrong and miss out. Maybe our connection had something to do with God, if you believe in that sort of thing.

You’d think someone like me who went to camp each year would be a bit more devout, but I wasn’t too sure about any of it. There was always this moment, usually the last day of camp, when everyone gathered underneath the redwood canopy or by the creek with the Coho salmon or up at the hill by the old wooden cross, this moment where I absolutely did believe in God, but then something would happen a week later to undercut all that, and I’d be left questioning all over again.

The only certainty was Erika. Over the years, she went from being that tall girl with the pink barrettes to the girl who draws with me during free time to my camp-best-friend. Then around freshman year, her body suddenly changed in a way I didn’t understand but made me uncomfortable, and we stopped talking, until, finally, last year, we were friends again. A relationship blossoming one week at a time. One year at a time. 

We shared secrets. Big ones. I told her about my panic attacks and how I was wrongly placed on a 72-hour suicide watch even though I never thought of killing myself, and she said you better fucking not all angry, and I felt loved. That same summer, she told me when she was at the mall, she saw her mom kissing someone other than her dad. Then last year when we started talking again, she said her parents were separating.

Hernan Diaz is the author of the novel Trustavailable from Riverhead.

 

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award, Diaz’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He has published stories and essays in The Paris Review, Granta, Playboy, The Yale Review, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere.

His first novel, In the Distance, was the winner of the Saroyan International Prize, the Cabell Award, the Prix Page America, and the New American Voices Award, among other distinctions. It was also a Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book of the Year and one of Lit Hub’s 20 Best Novels of the Decade.

He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, MacDowell, Yaddo, and the Ingmar Bergman Estate.

He holds a PhD from NYU, edits an academic journal at Columbia University, and is also the author of Borges, between History and Eternity.

* * *

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. Etc.

Available where podcasts are available: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, etc.

Subscribe to Brad Listi’s email newsletter.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@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.

Kathryn Miles is the author of Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders (Algonquin Books).

 

Miles is the author of five booksHer essays and articles have appeared in publications such as AudubonBest American EssaysBest American Sports Writing, the Boston Globe, the New York TimesOutsidePolitico, and Time. A contributing editor at Down East magazine, Miles also serves as a scholar-in-residence for the Maine Humanities Council and as a faculty member in several MFA programs. Her website is www.kathrynmiles.net.

***

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. Etc.

Available where podcasts are available: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, etc.

Subscribe to Brad Listi’s email newsletter.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@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.

translated from the Russian by the author 

 

On the other side of the wall we can see an old man, alone, hiding.
He is almost blind and does not speak.
He has no name that we know of, no country, no family.
One day, he’s gone.
A few weeks later, he’s back .
It is autumn, he has grown older, thinner than before.
The north wind blows hard.
The icy rain falls.
He is cold despite his clothes.
For it is already winter.
His skin is almost white.
We leave him.
As he will undoubtedly be dead before spring.

 

По другую сторону стены мы увидели одинокого старика, который прячется.
Он почти слепой и не разговаривает.
У него нет ни имени что нам известно, ни страны, ни семьи.
Однажды он исчезает.
Он снова возвращается через несколько недель.
Сейчас осень, он еще постарел, стал худее чем раньше.
Дует сильный северный ветер.
Идет ледяной дождь.
Ему холодно, хотя его одежда.
Потому что уже зима.
Его кожа почти белая.
Мы уходим.
Потому что, скорее всего, он умрет до весны.

 

 

 

 

We are Saturday.
The streetcars pass in the streets.
There are birds in the sky, bees on the roof, and mice in the ceiling.
They are waiting for the night to come out and eat any leftovers of my food.
There is also a small gecko on the terrace, fearful.
Sometimes the doves come and I give them seeds to eat.
Yesterday I painted a face, with my name in Russian and French,
on the red door of my apartment.
Then, later, I broke another door,
to help some locked out foreigner get into their place at night.
They had forgotten their keys inside.
Then I offered them a book.
I guess it was one of those days, not quite like the others.

 

Сегодня суббота.
По улицам ходят трамваи.
В небе есть птицы, на крыше пчелы, а на потолке мыши.
Они ждут ночи, чтобы выйти и съесть остатки моей еды.
На террасе также есть маленький, пугливый геккон.
Иногда приходят голуби, которым я даю семена на съедение.
Вчера я нарисовал лицо с моим именем на русском и французском языках
на красной двери моей квартиры.
Затем, посже, я разбил еще одну дверь,
чтобы помочь незнакомым людям входить в их квартире ночью.
Они забыли свои ключи там.
Потом я дал им один книгу.
Так бывают дни, не совсем такие, как другие.

 

 


artwork by the author

Mary Laura Philpott is the author of the memoir-in-essays Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives (Atria Books). It was the official April pick of the TNB Book Club.

 

Philpott, nationally bestselling author of I Miss You When I Blink, writes about the overlap of the absurd and the profound in everyday life. Her writing has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, among many other publications. A former bookseller, she also hosted an interview program on Nashville Public Television for several years. Mary Laura lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

***

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. Etc.

Available where podcasts are available: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, etc.

Subscribe to Brad Listi’s email newsletter.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@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.

 

Bud wrote a new book! It’s out on Vintage, and everyone should be incredibly excited. It’s (unsurprisingly) great. In Teenager, Smith pokes and prods, deconstructs, and blows up a slew of “American Myths.” I love Teenager because you can describe it a dozen different ways to a dozen different people, and none would be wrong. It’s a road book. It’s about the death of the American dream. It’s a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. It’s a love story. Naturally, it is all of these things. Bud has crafted a superb novel that is fascinated with the question of what makes us American, but smart enough not to have a reasonable answer. Bud talks about it as a kind of loop: things are invented here, then tried out, exported, and refined, then brought back and tried again. And this repeats. Bud is part of this great tradition. Bud has brought it back and tried again. Bud has written the Great American Novel.  

 

Below, we discuss the myth of America, the characters in Teenager, and influences that helped shape his book.

 


 

I really love the early scene with Kody and Teal smoking: “how do the women in the movies do it, how does Marlboro man do it?” It reminds me of Bruce Springsteen: girls comb their hair in the rear-view mirror and the boys try to look so hard. It really hits on the performance of youth.

 

I was just talking to someone about why the novel is called Teenager. About how when I was that age, I didn’t really know exactly what I could get away with, that time when you’re just stepping away from your parents and their home, their rules, and as good as home was or as bad as it was, you are yourself for the first time, often in those stolen little moments, often with your friends. You know, the girl combing her hair in the rearview mirror is doing it to be looked at, to see if she is admired by someone in the back seat, but she’s also looking in the rear view to figure out who she is going to be for the rest of her life. And the boys trying to act hard are going to find out how tough they are when they actually have to fight their first fights for looking tough. You learn who you are to the world pretty quick when you’re that age, and you spend the rest of your life fighting against it or surrendering to it. Being a teenager is new and seeing things for the possibilities there, your life can change for the better at any moment. 

 

 

Can you talk about Kody’s seizures? What was the impetus for giving him this condition? The hallucinatory language of those scenes was almost startling, not just the imagery, but the way in which it is written.

 

I was thinking of those prophets who had visions, Moses with the burning bush. Maybe Moses had seizures, maybe his reality melted and when it melted, maybe God talked to him, but God was in his head. Once it starts to become like that, well maybe that talking snake in the Garden of Eden isn’t the Devil either, maybe you’ve just cracked your head open. The language in Teenager slips away as hallucination and fantasy opens like a flower. This is a realist work, with the door open for dreams, visions, nightmares, and the little hopes that keep people going. Teal imagining that if they get caught by the police, perhaps she and Kody can share a prison cell for the rest of their life, and have a family in prison, and the children will be born behind bars and eventually grow up in the prison and have their own children, making Kody and Teal happy incarcerated grandparents. To me, the unlikely miracles that Teal and Kody hope for are no different than any of those Bible stories. 

 

Is there an American Dream? Was Hunter Thompson correct that it died in Las Vegas, or was it somewhere else? Is America an adult playground in the desert or a hamster wheel where every suburb and travel plaza and exit off the interstate looks the same?

 

The American Dream is just another thing that isn’t real anymore, or ever was. That’s why it’s called a dream, you’d have to leave your physical reality to find it. What we have is just another marketing campaign, for some nostalgic product that didn’t really exist to begin with. I do believe there is freedom for the individual in America, some parts of the globe don’t have this same level of individual freedom. That’s a fact. I love the citizens of this country, the roads that snake through it, the places on the wayside, the surprises. I’d feel that way of any country that’d accept me as a citizen. This earth is beautiful, in its own way, wherever you travel, if you look for the beauty of nature, you’ll find it. But you have to be looking. So really, the dream of the whole world is what I care about. Because it’s people that matter. Me, as an individual, all I can do in America is try to surround myself with friends and neighbors that I care about and try to do my part in caring for them. We do not have a utopia from sea to shining sea here. But it’s possible to make something close to a utopia in the room you are in now, with the people you care about. 

 

 

Can you talk about Elvis as America’s Jesus? (an idea thrown out in the book) Who is the new Elvis? 

 

We don’t have an American Jesus, either. Nobody is kind enough to match the storybooks. Nobody is magnanimous. There’s too much coverage, and all our would-be Jesuses are exposed for their human erroring right out the gate. There’s no way to maintain that facade anymore, the public relations can’t compete. When Elvis was revered, the information about him was as controlled as it ever was with any political figure. In Teenager, the Carticelli family has left the Catholic Church, for what they say has to do with the hypocrisy of priests and what the media has brought to light in regard to the molestation of small children, but that is happening in their own home. In reality, they have left the Catholic Church because the family had to get their daughter an abortion. The unspoken fear being: Is it the boyfriend’s child? Is it the father’s child? Which reminded me of Joseph and Mary and Jesus Christ himself. What child is this? 

Brad Listi is the author of the novel Be Brief and Tell Them Everythingavailable from Ig.

 

Listi was born in Milwaukee. His other books include the novel Attention. Deficit. Disorder., an LA Times bestseller, and Board, a work of nonfiction collage, co-authored with Justin Benton. He is the founding editor of The Nervous Breakdown, an online literary magazine, and in 2011 he launched the Otherppl podcastwhich features in-depth interviews with today’s leading writers. He lives in Los Angeles.

Today’s interview is conducted by guest host Steve Almond.

***

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. Etc.

Available where podcasts are available: Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcheriHeart Radio, etc.

Subscribe to Brad Listi’s email newsletter.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@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.

Darrel Alejandro Holnes is the author of the poetry collection Stepmotherland (University of Notre Dame Press). It is the winner of the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize.

 

Holnes is an Afro-Panamanian American writer and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing (Poetry). His poems have previously appeared in the American Poetry ReviewPoetryCallalooBest American Experimental Writing, and elsewhere. Holnes is a Cave Canem and CantoMundo fellow who has earned scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Postgraduate Writers Conference at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and residencies nationwide, including a residency at MacDowell. His poem “Praise Song for My Mutilated World” won the C. P. Cavafy Poetry Prize from Poetry International. He is an assistant professor of English at Medgar Evers College, a senior college of the City University of New York (CUNY), where he teaches creative writing and playwriting, and a faculty member of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York 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. Etc.

Available where podcasts are available: Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcheriHeart Radio, etc.

Subscribe to Brad Listi’s email newsletter.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@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.

Steve Almond is the author of the debut novel All the Secrets of the Worldavailable from Zando.

 

Almond is the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Candyfreak and Against Football. He teaches Creative Writing at the Neiman Fellowship at Harvard and Wesleyan, as well as Hugo House, Grub Street, and numerous literary conferences. His essays and reviews have been widely published in The New York Times MagazineThe New York Times, The Boston GlobeThe Los Angeles TimesGQThe Wall Street JournalPoets & WritersTin House, and Ploughshares. His journalism has received numerous awards including the top national prize for feature writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. His short stories have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, Best American Mysteries, Best American Erotica, and The Pushcart Prize. He serves as a literary correspondent for WBUR and appears on numerous podcasts. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.

***

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. Etc.

Available where podcasts are available: Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcheriHeart Radio, etc.

Subscribe to Brad Listi’s email newsletter.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@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.

Caren Beilin is the author of the novel Revenge of the Scapegoat, available from Dorothy.

 

Beilin’s other books are Blackfishing the IUD (Wolfman Books, 2019), Spain (Rescue Press, 2018), The University of Pennsylvania (Noemi Press, 2014), and the chapbook Americans, Guests, or Us (Diagram/New Michigan Press, 2012).

Shorter prose appears in FenceTerritoryDreginald, and The Offing. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and lives close by, in Vermont.

***

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

Available where podcasts are available: Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcheriHeart Radio, etc.

YouTube

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

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

Today on the program, a special sneak preview of Brad Listi’s new novel, Be Brief and Tell Them Everything, available now for preorder and wherever books are sold on May 10, 2022 in trade paperback and audiobook formats.

 

This is an excerpt from the audiobook edition, read by Brad Listi. It is the first time any part of the novel has been made available to the public. An exclusive offering for listeners of the Otherppl podcast. Thanks for tuning in.

***

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. Etc.

Available where podcasts are available: Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcheriHeart Radio, etc.

Subscribe to Brad Listi’s email newsletter.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@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.

Order a copy of Cameron Quan Louie’s chapbook Apology Engine right here.

 

 

My therapist says trauma is simply an encounter with something that we cannot make sense of. I struggle to make sense of this. My therapist is skilled, practices the technique of self-disclosure, establishes rapport with me by confiding about her own trauma. As a young girl growing up on a farm, she witnessed the long, bloody birth of a calf in a barn. No explanation is the default. She says that trauma is stored and released in certain parts of the body, which is why we cry unexpectedly during yoga, arching and bowing our backs through the familiar sequence. Cat, cow. Why being overcome with feeling makes our throats shake. The vagus and the vague. If poetry troubles sense and multiplies the senses, that would make poets the professional purveyors of trauma! Just think! Teachers, performers, and poets laureate are paid to drive around traumatizing people, telling them how valuable, how necessary it is to be traumatized, even being thanked for the service. I have a plan: At the beginning and end of every poem, every work of art, the person responsible for it should get on their knees and beg for forgiveness.

 

 

 

 

The professor is mild-mannered, dresses in tasteful khakis and lumpy shoes. He is the kind of person who leans approachably, without any irony or self-possession, against his desk at the front of the room. We are a mixed class: Half of us are writers who are embarrassed and ashamed because we spend too much time writing and not enough time studying literature—its histories, theories, great pasty men—and the other half are devoted to the study of literature, but too embarrassed and ashamed to admit that they want to write themselves. Who apologizes to whom? The professor says, The thing about you writers is that you’re always thinking: How can I use this? What he means to say is that our ability to operate shamelesslyto separate reality from responsibility, to consume, is limitless. Our loved ones die in a fire, and all we want is a flawless description of the fire. I crackle in my plastic chair. The professor is not wrong.

Zac Smith is the author of the debut story collection Everything is Totally Fine, available from Muumuu House.

 

Smith’s other books include Two Million Shirts (2021), of which he is co-author, and a poetry collection entitled 50 Barn Poems (2019). He lives in Massachusetts.

***

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. Etc.

Available where podcasts are available: Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcheriHeart Radio, etc.

Subscribe to Brad Listi’s email newsletter.

Support the show on Patreon

Merch

@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.