64 Dorothy Parker

“She was a combination of Little Nell and Lady Macbeth,” said Alexander Woolcott. Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) wrote short stories, poems, reviews, screenplays, and more. Perhaps most famously, she was part of the group of New Yorkers known as the Algonquin Round Table, which met every day for lunch and eventually grew famous for their witticisms, put-downs, and general high spirits. A woman of brilliance as well as deep contradiction, Parker at her best combined romantic optimism with a dark, biting pessimism that still feels modern.

In this episode, Jacke is joined by the President of the Literature Supporters Club for a field report of the Algonquin Hotel today and a discussion of Parker’s life, works, and top ten quips.

Show Notes: 

We have a special episode coming up – listener feedback! Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“I Wished on the Moon” by Billie Holiday (1935) and Ella Fitzgerald and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra (1962)

 

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63 Chekhov, Bellow, Wright, and Fox (with Charles Baxter)

In this special episode, the revered American author Charles Baxter joins Jacke to discuss some of his favorite books, including works by Anton Chekhov, Saul Bellow, James Wright, and Paula Fox.

“Charles Baxter’s stories have reminded me of how broad and deep and shining a story can be, and I am grateful.” — Alice Munro 

CHARLES BAXTER is the author of the novels The Feast of Love (nominated for the National Book Award), The Soul Thief, Saul and Patsy, Shadow Play, and First Light, and the story collections Gryphon, Believers, A Relative Stranger, Through the Safety Net, and Harmony of the World.  The stories “Bravery” and “Charity,” which appear in There’s Something I Want You to Do, were included in Best American Short Stories. Baxter lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Works Discussed:

Collected Poems by James Wright

Herzog, Henderson the Rain King, and Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow

Desperate Characters and The Widow’s Children by Paula Fox

Selected Stories by Anton Chekhov

Show Notes: 

We have a special episode coming up – listener feedback! Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Sweet Vermouth” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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62 Bad Poetry

Everyone loves and admires a good poem…but what about the bad ones? After discussing his own experience writing terrible poetry, Jacke analyzes the 10 things that make a poem go wrong, assesses the curious role of Scotland and Michigan in developing bad poetry, and reviews some candidates for the worst poet in history, including:

  • Jennifer Aniston, whose astonishingly bad love poem to John Mayer graced (disgraced?) the pages of Star magazine;
  • James McIntyre, the Canadian poet known as “the Chaucer of Cheese”;
  • Julia A. Moore, the “Sweet Singer of Michigan,” whose poems were described as “worse than a Gatling gun” and “rare food for the lunatic,” but who insisted on giving public performances (to her husband’s mortification and Mark Twain’s delight);
  • Margaret Cavendish, the seventeenth-century aristocrat whose nature poems took her into the unintentionally comic realm of extreme bad taste (and near cannibalism);

…and many others as well. It’s a celebration of bad poetry… the agony and the ecstasy… the cringeworthy and the triumphant… or, as William McGonagall, one of the best (worst?) of the bad poets might say:  “This episode is very fine / Indeed I think it very fine.”

Show Notes: 

We have a special episode coming up – listener feedback! Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

 

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61 In the Mood for a Good Book – Wharton, Murakami, Chandler, and Fowles (with Vu Tran)

What do Edith Wharton, Haruki Murakami, Raymond Chandler, John Fowles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Wong Kar-wai have in common? All are known for their ability to generate a particular mood and atmosphere – and all were selected by our guest, Professor Vu Tran of the University of Chicago, as being particularly inspirational as he wrote his novel Dragonfish. In this episode, Vu and Jacke discuss what makes these works so compelling, how the works helped Vu write his novel, and how a certain American city produces an intense feeling of endless hope and melancholy, twenty-four hours a day.

VU TRAN is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at the University of Chicago and the author of Dragonfish: A Novel (2015). Professor Tran has been described as “a fiction writer whose work thus far is preoccupied with the legacy of the Vietnam War for the Vietnamese who remained in the homeland, the Vietnamese who immigrated to America, and the Americans whose lives have intersected with both.”

“Richly satisfying work….[Has] a place on the top shelf of literary thrillers.” —Gerald Bartell, San Francisco Chronicle

Works Discussed:

Dragonfish: A Novel by Vu Tran

The Magus by John Fowles

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Vertigo (dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

In the Mood for Love (dir. Wong Kar-wai)

Show Notes: 

We have a special episode coming up – listener feedback! Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

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60 Great Literary Endings

Everyone always talks about the greatest openings in the history of literature – I’m looking at you, Call me Ishmael – but what about endings? Aren’t those just as important? What are the different ways to end short stories and novels? Which endings work well and why? In this episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at great literary endings, with some assistance from David Lodge, Charles Baxter, Leo Tolstoy, James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, Samuel Beckett, Iris Murdoch, Uncle Wiggily, The Third Man, Donald Barthelme, Alice Munro, Henry James, E.B. White, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mary Shelley, David Foster Wallace, O. Henry, Ian McEwan, Thomas Mann, and Joseph Conrad.

Show Notes: 

We have a special episode coming up – listener feedback! Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

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59 Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) lived a life that, in retrospect, looks almost like one of her short stories: sudden, impactful, and lastingly powerful. Deeply Catholic, O’Connor portrayed the American South as a place full of complex characters seeking redemption in unusual and often violent ways. She once said that she had found that violence was “strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace,” and it is this confrontation – restless faith crashing into pain and evil – that energizes O’Connor’s best works. Possessed of almost supernatural writerly gifts, O’Connor’s insight and artistry place her in the uppermost echelon of American authors. Host Jacke Wilson tells the story of O’Connor’s life, her most famous works, and his own near-connection to the author…before concluding with some troubling recent discoveries and a preview of a deeper examination of O’Connor and her place in American letters.

Show Notes: 

See the photo of the young Flannery O’Connor at the Amana Colonies at https://jackewilson.com/2014/08/08/writers-laughing-flannery-oconnor/.

Brand new! Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Porch Blues” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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58 Wyndham Lewis and the Vorticists (with Professor Paul Peppis)

Embattled and arrogant, the novelist and painter Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) was deeply immersed in Modernism even as he sought to blast it apart. He was the type of person who would rather hate a club than join it – and while his taste for the attack led to his marginalization, his undeniable genius made him impossible to ignore. Eventually, his misanthropic views led him down some dark paths, as the freedom and energy of the early twentieth century gave way to totalitarian regimes and the horrors of modern war. Professor Paul Peppis, an expert in the politics, art, and literature of the Modernist era, joins Jacke for a discussion of Wyndham Lewis and his leadership of the thrilling, doomed artistic revolution known as Vorticism.

Show Notes: 

Brand new! Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Modern Piano Epsilon – The Small” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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57 Borges, Munro, Davis, Barthelme – All About Short Stories (And Long Ones Too)

What makes a short story a short story? What can a short story do that a novel can’t? Can a story ever be TOO short? The President of the Literature Supporters Club stops by to discuss the length of fiction, with some help from Lydia Davis, Donald Barthelme, Edgar Allan Poe, Alice Munro, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Roberto Bolano, Georges Simenon, Alberto Moravia, Augusto Monterroso, Jonathan Franzen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Saul Bellow, and Franz Kafka.

Show Notes: 

Brand new! Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Spy Glass,” “Sweeter Vermouth” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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56 Shelley, HD, Yeats, Frost, Stevens – The Poetry of Ruins (with Professor Bill Hogan)

In 1818, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley published his classic poem “Ozymandias,” depicting the fallen statue of a once-powerful king whose inscription “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” has long since crumbled into the desert. A hundred years later, a set of Modernist poets revisited the subject of ruins, injecting the poetic trope with some surprising new ideas. Professor Bill Hogan of Providence College joins Jacke for a look at the treatment of ruins in the poetry of H.D. (1886-1961), William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Robert Frost (1874-1963), and Wallace Stevens (1879-1955).

 Works Discussed:

“Ozymandias” (1818) – Percy Bysshe Shelley

“The Walls Do Not Fall” (1944) – H.D.

“The Tower” (1928) – W.B. Yeats

“The Directive” (1946) – Robert Frost

“The Anecdote of the Jar” (1919) and “The Man on the Dump” (1939) – Wallace Stevens

Show Notes: 

Brand new! Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

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55 James Joyce (with Vincent O’Neill)

Vincent O’Neill hails from Sandycove, Dublin, where he grew up in the shadow of the tower made famous by the opening chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses. After a childhood spent tracing the steps of Joyce’s characters, Vincent developed a love for the theatre, eventually becoming the co-founder and artistic director of the Irish Classical Theatre Company in Buffalo, New York. He joins Jacke Wilson for a discussion of James Joyce and the theatre, including a staging of Joyce’s play Exiles, the magic of Joyce’s language, and the long journey to bring an adaptation of Finnegan’s Wake to the stage.

Show Notes: 

Learn more about the Irish Classical Theatre Company at irishclassical.com.

Brand new! Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

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