Lucie Elven is the author of the debut novel The Weak Spot, available from Soft Skull Press.

 

Elven has written for publications including The London Review of BooksGranta, and NOON. She is the former deputy editor of The Believer magazine, and The Weak Spot is her first book. She lives in London.

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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

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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.

725. Anna Qu

By TNB Editors

Podcasts

Anna Qu is the author of Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor, available from Catapult.

 

 

Qu is a Chinese American writer. She writes personal essays on identity and growing up in New York as an immigrant. Her work has appeared in Poets & Writers, Lithub, Threepenny ReviewLumina, Kartika, Kweli, Vol.1 Brooklyn, and Jezebel, among others. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College.

She also serves as the Nonfiction Editor at Kweli Journal, and teaches at the low res MFA program at New England College, Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, and Catapult. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner and their cat, Momo.

***

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

YouTube

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

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

Matt Bell is the author of the novel Appleseed, available from Custom House Books. It is the official July pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Bell is also the author of the novels Scrapper and In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, as well as the short story collection A Tree or a Person or a Walla non-fiction book about the classic video game Baldur’s Gate IIand several other titles. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tin House, Conjunctions, Fairy Tale Review, American Short Fiction, and many other publications. A native of Michigan, he teaches creative writing at Arizona State 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

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 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.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Chris L. Terry. His new novel, Black Card, is available from Catapult Press.

This is Terry’s second time on the podcast. He first appeared in Episode 217 on October 16, 2013.

Terry was born in 1979 to an African American father and an Irish American mother. He has an BA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and a creative writing MFA from Columbia College Chicago. His debut novel, Zero Fade, was named a Best Book of the Year by Slate and Kirkus Reviews. He lives in Los Angeles with his family.

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Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

IMG_2872.JPGI tried to stop writing, but the stories kept manifesting.

My father encouraged me to go to law school. I’d have to get to the point. I’d learn to think in outlines. I’d sit in lectures and imagine what my professors were like at home, if they had sex with their husbands or wives, or with hookers. Toothless old hookers with bunions. With six-fingered hands. I’d extrapolate and pray I didn’t get called on.

Saving April

By M.J. Fievre

Memoir

school girlsApril shows me her cuts. Small razor cuts spread on her arm. She’s managed to shape some of them like stick houses—triangles atop squares. Others are words—fuck them. Several of the wounds are still fresh. I want to run the tip of my finger on them, ease the pain, but several years of training stop me—I’m not wearing gloves.

April lets out a short laugh and shakes her head; the silver skulls dangling from her ears slap her jaw. The other students call her Ms. Ugly, but I find a certain beauty in her witchy features: the long, pale face and pointy chin, the crooked nose. The dark eyeliner brings out her daring eyes under ever-frowning brows.

The door of the classroom is ajar, as I never talk to students alone in closed quarters. I’m not teaching middle school for the long haul, but no scandal is going to force me out the door before I decide to call time. April whispers, “I did it to myself, you know. All the pain inside… I have to hurt myself.” Teeny-tiny zits cover her forehead. Her hair, which has been backcombed, is recalcitrant whenever her friend Katrina attempts to fix it in my Literature class.

April pulls down her long sleeves and folds her arms, black fingernails repeatedly scratching the purple shirt—reopening wounds through fabric. “You know what I like about you?” April asks. “You always look so damn unimpressed.” She hides a smile at the corners of her black lips. “I’d love to see your face when the shit hits the fan.”

In conjunction with the U.S. Marrow, Tallow, and Alternative Proteins Council, and in honor of today’s National Zombie Appreciation Day (and Celebrity BBQ), we are happy to present the animated book trailer for The Infects, by Sean Beaudoin.

If you’re like me you know that your father told you and your brother and sister stories. They often involved characters named Jamie, and companions or equally relevant characters named after your siblings, as together you all tromped through forests and conquered giants and met and saved princesses and you all became princesses and princes and eventually kings and queens. This transpired while you were tucked under the covers of your childhood bed in the bedroom in which you grew up, situated in the northwest corner of the house in which your parents raised you. The covers covered your knees and, sometimes—during the scary parts when Jamie had to outlast ogres, dragons, or giant rats—the covers reared up to your chin, just as you’d imagine they might in a movie version of this story of your life.

Mr. Jack sat under the hanging light at the kitchen table with an ashtray at one hand, a book under the other, and a cup of coffee in between. His casual posture made him look shorter than he was. Sometimes, he braced his elbow on the back of the chair and dwarfed a novel in the palm of his hand. His dark, wooly eyebrows straightened in concentration, sometimes lifting as he took a drag of his cigarette. From my place in the living room, near a lamp with a book on my lap, I could barely whiff his Marlboro. That’s what my dad had smoked before he quit cold turkey. But Mr. Jack and my father smelled alike anyway, that humid smoky scent of the Intracostal base where they both waited to fly helicopters to offshore oil rigs.

 (The Merry-Go-Round is Beginning to Taunt Me[1])

 

1. Author As [not circus] Dog Trainer (Cris)

You can’t lie to a dog. Or you can’t lie badly. While training dogs, you need to be “telling” them, with both body-language and voice, that they are the center of the universe to you, and that what they do for you—and what you’re doing together—makes you happier, and means more to you, than anything else in the world. They can tell if you’re lying. If you’re unconsciously communicating to them that you’re disappointed or upset because you’re thinking about something else, something offstage—whether your life’s true dilemma or your most current disappointment—they take it on as stress. To dogs, it’s all about them. So the trainer has to be able to convince the dog of that, whether it’s true in the trainer’s larger life or not. Problem is, the dog can usually tell. A good trainer doesn’t have “a larger life.” It’s never “just a dog” and therefore easy to lie to.

Assistant’s Note: Hi! I’m Fabian, Mr. Dust’s personal assistant. As some of you may know, Mr. Dust performed his first public reading in San Diego last week at the vaunted TNB-SD “Stay Classy Edition” event. I’ve heard over and over that it was a total blast! Of course, I wouldn’t actually know, since I wasn’t allowed to come. Invited, yes. Allowed, no. The word through back channels is that Helmsman Listi himself really wanted me there. Nevertheless, I was forced to stay down in the bunker and coordinate. I guess you can’t always get what you want, even if you try sometime and you may find that you get what you need. Can you? At any rate, if you were at the event and “heard” rumors that I refuse to fly anything but first class, well that’s just not true.

The bottom line is that ever since the event, the Castle Dust mailroom has been DELUGED with letters. Let’s get to them, shall we? Yes, we shall!

(Also, Mr. Dust made me promise not to post these pics. Did anyway! Ha. Next time, maybe I’ll get an extra legroom seat in business class.)

Last Saturday was sunny and hot for the first time all month. This, plus pollen motes churning in the air, tree trunks soaked by Friday night’s lawn sprinklers, and the necessity for sunglasses built the perfect July day. And so, I got up, got dressed, got out the door, market list in my pocket and satchel (big enough for greens, cheese, wine and probably a whole chicken) slung over my shoulder.

A doorstep view of the Dublin mountains, the grazed sky lead and liquid, a radio mast scratching the clouds. Mam buttons your wool anorak up to the neck, kisses your face with her cherry-sticked lips, and you feel the tickle of her mustache, annoying and raspy. Before stepping across the threshold you dip two fingers in the holy water font and make the sign of the cross. This is what it’s like to be seven and about to walk to school for the first time in nine months.


The nephritis came with bloodied urine, straight to the hospital, where they put you in leather straps you called, “strainers,” so you wouldn’t make yourself sicker. At night you listened to Sister’s castaneted shoes on the polished ward floor, the swish of her starched skirts, the glint of steel from her spectacles as she made the night rounds. Always the smell, too. Dettol antiseptic and mashed potatoes and gravy. Even in the night you couldn’t move in the bed, the straps pulled tight against your chest. When you pissed the bed the first time it wasn’t a big rigmarole, but after the third and fourth time the nurse put rubber sheets under the starchy linen. Rubber and piss blended into the scent of a six-year-old’s sadness, the uncomfortable dampness as you lay shamed and silent in the dark.

No school for you, instead the stretched out days of hospital food and leather straps, of bed baths and blood tests. Every day, mam bused to town and walked to Temple Street Hospital to visit you, her little soldier. In the daytime an old man came to your bedside with the Irish Independent and read you the comics—Dennis the Menace, Count Curly Wee and Gussie Goose. Two flaps of hair were plastered to the sides of the man’s head, like a cruel Viking helmet. “Say the words after me,” he’d say, and fear pushed them out of your mouth, reluctant crumbs. This was how you learned to read. One day he stopped coming, Sister shaking her head when you asked where your friend had gotten to.

In time the nurse loosened the straps, the wetting of the bed lessened, and you began to walk the corridors, looking for your friend with the newspaper. In the old men’s ward you peeked between curtains, bruised skeletons sponged, nurses hoisting cracked limbs into clean pajamas. One old shitehawk wrinkled a finger at you and asked whether you’d like to know a secret. When you got closer he thrust his mousie at you and a trickle of piss ran down your leg. As you backed away from his bed he winked a moled lid at you, his tongue poking from the side of his mouth.

Paper chains and bright lanterns suspended from the ceilings, a string across the end of each bed for Christmas cards from home and friends. Mam and Da came with the boys to see you. She had a miniature tree in a pot, just like the one at home, except this one was covered with gold-flake and ornaments attached by bits of pipe cleaner—snowmen, silver balls, an angel in a white robe, gold-haloed, her face a smiling wooden ball. Packages in wrapping paper littered the bed, stuffed animals, baby bear, Lego bricks and a jigsaw puzzle with the Matterhorn in one corner of the sky.

When they let you out it was a Thursday, after breakfast. Mam came with your clothes in a bag and helped you dress. As you said goodbye to the nurses and Sister your eyes leaked. Mam held your hand as you walked down Temple Street towards the bus stop. On jellied legs you followed her as fast as you could trot. At home everything smelled the same, the cigarette smoke and the shepherd’s pie for dinner, an apple pie, crusted with sugar steamed on the counter.

Da was working and Ma hadn’t told him you’d be home, because she couldn’t phone him at work. At six, as the Angelus bells from Radio Eireann bonged, Mam hid you in the sitting room behind the curtains, and told you to wait until you heard your Da’s voice. When you jumped out from your hiding place his face lit up like you’d never seen before and he began to cry. “Don’t cry Da, don’t cry. It’s only me, it’s only me.” He hoisted you so high you were able to touch the brass lampshade with your tongue. That night, the bed did not smell of rubber, though the sheets once again were damp.


Performing is always tough for writers. I mean, we’re not typically stage-trained theatre experts amped up on auditory performance steroids when reading our prose. The reality is, most writers are just average Joes like me. We stumble, stutter, are monotone, and really are quite boring when we get up in front of people and open our mouths. I don’t know why this is, and have been guilty of it for years. I’ve droned on like a pontificating robot. I’ve blathered, buzzed, and really was in need of a good oiling of my vocal joints.