393 Writers in Odessa, Ukraine’s “Black Sea Pearl” | PLUS Margot Reads Boswell

Still recovering from his immersion in Sigmund Freud, Jacke looks instead to one of the world’s great literary cities: Odessa. More than 300 writers have lived in, traveled through, and/or written about Ukraine’s “pearl of the Black Sea” – what did they find so compelling? And what did they write about afterwards? PLUS we continue our conversation with Scottish novelist Margot Livesey, who has been reading Boswell’s Life of Johnson, generally considered one of the greatest biographies ever written (and one of Jacke’s favorite books).

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Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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389 Thomas Pynchon (with Antoine Wilson)

“A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.” Such is the opening of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), the novel that won the National Book Award but repulsed the Pulitzer Prize Committee. Pynchon’s special blend of paranoia and postmodernism made him one of the hallmark authors of the Cold War era. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at Pynchon’s life and works, then is joined by a contemporary author, Antoine Wilson (Mouth to Mouth), for a discussion of his writing process and his recent trip to Pynchonland.

ANTOINE WILSON is the author of the novels Panorama City and The Interloper. His work has appeared in The Paris ReviewStoryQuarterlyBest New American Voices, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications, and he is a contributing editor of A Public Space. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and recipient of a Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellowship from the University of Wisconsin, he lives in Los Angeles. His website is: AntoineWilson.com.

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373 Roald Dahl

Born in Wales to parents of Norwegian descent, Roald Dahl (1916-1990) grew up to become one of England’s most famous writers. Although Dahl was an accomplished writer of short stories for grownups, he is today known best for his well-loved children’s novels, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, BFG, Matilda, and Danny, the Champion of the World. Dahl also had a fascinating past as a WWII fighter pilot, an intelligence agent, and the husband of the Hollywood star (and Academy Award winner) Patricia Neal. What secrets were in his past? What do we find unsavory about him today? And what kind of impact do his books still have?

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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366 Evelyn Waugh (with Phil Klay)

The English novelist Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) was regarded by many as the most brilliant satirical novelist of his time. A self-proclaimed curmudgeon, for whom the Conservative Party was not conservative enough, Waugh converted to Catholicism in his twenties and never looked back. He resisted change in all areas of life, expressing the opinion that he wished he had been born two or three centuries earlier. At his best, he was darkly funny, using his misanthropy like a bright light to illuminate cracks and flaws in society’s foundations, and using his pointed wit to skewer anyone and everyone he encountered, including himself. At his worst, he was a crazy quilt of what George Orwell called “untenable opinions,” with all the racism and anti-semitism one might expect from a self-satisfied man of his era. In this episode, Jacke is joined by author Phil Klay to discuss Waugh’s religion, military background, and his novel A Handful of Dust in particular. The two also discuss Klay’s award-winning fiction, his writing process, what it means to be a Catholic writer in Waugh’s time and our own, and the new podcast American Veteran: Unforgettable Stories, which Klay hosts.

PHIL KLAY is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. His short story collection Redeployment won the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction and was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by The New York Times. His debut novel, Missionaries, was released in October 2020 with Penguin Press.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

 

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360 FMK Shakespeare! (with Laurie Frankel) | Tolstoy’s Gospel (with Scott Carter)

It’s a good day for cooking! First up: Scott Carter, author of the play Discord: The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, and Count Leo Tolstoy, joins Jacke for a look at the gospel as updated by Leo Tolstoy. Then novelist Laurie Frankel (author of One Two Three) stops by for a special Shakespeare game. Hope you enjoy!

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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359 Forgotten Women of Literature 6 – Eliza Haywood and Fantomina | PLUS Keats’s Letter on Shakespeare and “Negative Capability”

During her stormy and mysterious life, Eliza Haywood (1693?-1756) was one of the most prolific writers in England. Her “amatory fictions” were unapologetically sensationalistic, earning her the opprobrium of her mostly male critics. But in spite of being described (some might say slandered) by Alexander Pope in his Dunciad, Haywood kept going – acting, writing, translating, publishing – and set many trends even as she bridged the divide from one era to another. Today, she stands as a remarkable figure, with novels like Fantomina demonstrating her willingness to explore themes of gender politics, sexual passion, and contemporary scandals long before it was common to do so.

PLUS Jacke takes a look at one of the most famous letters in literature, Keats’s epiphanic description of Shakespeare’s “negative capability,” including the painting Keats had just gone to see.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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RM6 The Trial of Shrimp Boy

Jacke and Gar take a break from the history of literature to discuss the development of Jacke’s new play, The Trial of Shrimp Boy, which has attracted interest from Bryan Cranston’s agent(!). Also: Gar builds fences and is not a good neighbor.

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