The LARB Radio Hour
is a weekly show featuring interviews, readings and discussions about all things literary. Hosted by LARB Editors-at-Large Kate Wolf, Medaya Ocher, and Eric Newman, the Radio Hour
was named one of the top 10 literary podcasts of the year
by Book Riot. Close out the year listening to some of our hosts’
favorite interviews and/or catch the latest episodes on the radio Thursdays at KPFK
and Fridays here on LARB
or wherever you find your podcasts.
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Andrew Sean Greer’s Less Is Lost: Since finishing Andrew Sean Greer’s Less in 2017, I had been aching to walk back into the delightfully hapless elder gay world of protagonist Arthur Less. So you can imagine my elation when I spoke with Greer about his sequel, Less Is Lost. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation about what it means to be a “bad gay,” Greer’s campy aesthetic, and how Arthur Less’s domestic tour in Less Is Lost was inspired by a desire to pull together an image of an eclectic and exciting America at a moment when the country seems to be torn apart.
Danielle Lindemann’s True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us: While I wish that I’d started watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills before diving into Danielle Lindemann’s thoughtful study, our conversation about reading reality TV through the lens of social theory has stuck with me long since we finished recording. While the genre remains a dominant form of entertainment that reflects some of the worst impulses of humanity, it is also a perfect medium for thinking through the desires, tensions, and incongruities that structure our social lives on and off the small screen.
Douglas Stuart’s Young Mungo: There was perhaps no book that so thoroughly grabbed me this year as did Douglas Stuart’s magisterial and engrossing queer coming-of-age tale. But I know what you’re thinking — what’s new about a coming-out story? I might’ve thought the same thing, but watching Stuart’s characters come to life on the page in the full complexity of their religious, class, and underdog cultural experiences gave the familiar genre beats a wonderful and probing freshness. Our conversation draws out how Stuart’s experience of deindustrialized Glasgow in the 1980s and 1990s shape the world of Mungo and his family, and gave me hope for new, densely textured voices in queer fiction.
Eric is a critic, producer, and show developer whose work encompasses everything from reality TV and true crime to queer theory and romance. He has been an editor at LARB since 2016, and co-host of The LARB Radio Hour since 2017.
Adam Phillips’s On Wanting to Change and On Getting Better: From the time many years ago when I started to read the work of ingenious psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, I’ve always entertained the fantasy of being his patient. Getting to speak to him about his two latest books, On Wanting to Change and On Getting Better, was perhaps the next best thing. Phillips famously does not use the internet, so a little extra planning went into recording the interview; the effort was worth it, and I came away, as I so often do from his work, thoroughly illuminated.
Kate is a writer, critic, and editor. She is one of the founding editors of the Los Angeles Review of Books, and has been a co-host of The LARB Radio Hour since 2016.
Celia Paul’s Letters to Gwen John: I was honestly a little surprised that Celia Paul agreed to be on our show. I think of her as a little larger than life, a little beyond something as banal as a podcast. She was as thoughtful and generous as her books and her art. Really a rare treat.
Patti Smith’s The Melting: I saw Patti Smith perform only once, many years ago, and in the middle of the set, she spit on the stage. Not generally remarkable, maybe, but there was something about the gesture that kind of blew me away. It was this total ownership of the stage, her limbs, her energy, her confidence. Spitting generally really grosses me out, but this was transformative spit. That’s all to say that I was honored to talk to her. And at the end of the show, she said that Kate and I seemed cool!
Sheila Heti’s Pure Colour: I thought Pure Colour was a very special novel to spend time with — the scale of the book was both large and small, allegorical and intimate. Heti is so casually smart and insightful; she was a perfect guest.
Medaya Ocher is a writer and editor. She is the former managing editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, and has been a co-host of The LARB Radio Hour since 2016.