Tag Archives: literature

New (free!) event! ULYSSES FOR THE REST OF US – read James Joyce’s Ulysses with Conner from June to September for free. Hosted by MoLI, the Museum of Literature Ireland!

3 Jun

Friends,
I’m so excited to share with you the new free event series featuring me guiding you through James Joyce’s Ulysses, hosted by MoLI, the Museum of Literature Ireland here in Dublin.

SIGN UP HERE 

Here’s the description:

Always wanted to read Ulysses but were too afraid to start? Ulysses may be one of the most famous and influential novels ever published, but how many have actually read it? Ulysses – for the Rest of Us! is a new free public book club at MoLI that will demystify this extraordinary 100 year-old novel, and offer fresh and easy routes into James Joyce’s vast, elaborate and often hilarious masterpiece for every reader. This summer, join your guide –author, activist and podcast host Conner Habib – as he unlocks Ulysses, episode by episode, from Stephen Dedalus’s breakfast in Sandycove through to Molly Bloom’s famous closing monologue.

This is the year that you finish Ulysses!
Starting with an online interview with Conner at 1PM (Dublin time) this Bloomsday, 16 June, Ulysses for the Rest of Us will continue fortnightly on Thursday evenings over Zoom until September. In addition to Conner Habib’s fun and accessible introductions to each episode, book club members will be able to discuss the book whilst having access to a wealth of additional resources and recommended reading lists. Sign up for free now!”

Obviously, it’s a dream to be hosting a Ulysses event in Ireland. But more than that, this is the event for Ulysses in Ireland this year. It’s being promoted by the Irish tourism board, featuring great Irish guests, and on offer to the entire nation.

You can watch the little preview video here, and sign up! It’s free for everyone!
XO
CH

Desires, dark and light. Carmen Maria Machado on AEWCH 149!

21 Apr

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FRIENDS: Do you find this podcast meaningful? Support it! This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon Thank you so, so much.
Buy Carmen’s books and the books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 149 on Bookshop.org. Bookshop.org sources from independent bookstores in the US, not a big corporate shipping warehouse where the workers are treated like machines. Plus when you click through here to order, the show gets a small affiliate kickback!

Friends,

The French psychoanalyst and philosopher Jacques Lacan once said, “there is no other good than the one that can pay the price of the access to desire.”

There’s a lot about this statement, which is, like a lot of what Lacan said, a riddle – but one thing in it – paying the price of access – so our desires are not accessible? So we must lose something, give something to meet them? To see them? To talk about them?

To discuss all of this, I spoke with Carmen Maria Machado, author of the memoir In The Dream House, the collection of strange tales Her Body And Other Parties, and the graphic novel The Low, Low Woods.

I think what’s really interesting to both of us, and this comes up quite a bit – is how desire functions, how it is somehow always ahead of us, appearing and disappearing like a friend or an enemy on the path in a fairy tale. Sometimes it gives something to us that is useful later on. A key, a sacred object, a weapon. Sometimes it gives us a gift that leads us to being stuck. Like the fairy market where someone accepts the gift of an apple from the goblin, eats it, and wakes up 100 years later, if they wake up at all. Sometimes it has a strange shape, it frightens us.

Why should desires be like this? How do they know us, in a way, before we know ourselves?

This is a conversation that finds proximity to creation, to danger, to repetition, to the abuse that Carmen writes about in her memoir In The Dream House,and to the abuse I wrote about in my essay ,”If You Ever Did Write Anything About Me, I’d Want It To Be About Love“.

How do we talk about the desire and the horror in abusive relationships while still holding the abuser accountable. How do we make the necessary move of accountability while not reducing the complicatedness of the encounter and the relationship?

Again and again, Carmen and I touch on desires and on storytelling – almost like we’re knocking on wood to allow ourselves to go forward in difficult conversation.

What do we sacrifice to know our desires?
What are the prices of following our desires
Of not giving way to them?
Of not giving ground to them?

If all that sounds dark and complex, well, it is. but this is also such a warm and friendly episode. With lots of laughter and curiosity and affinity. 

I’m so happy to share this episode with you.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • The way desire  knows itself before you know what it is
  • Why is the fox from Robin Hood so hot
  • Evading the temptation of metaphor when we read
  • The response to the subconscious is determines the genre of writing
  • Horror as spiritual narrative
  • H.P. Lovecraft’s mission of mercy
  • Sexuality as a genre
  • The imagination of the abusive partner after you’ve left them
  • The missing language of understanding for the person who has been abused
  • Why we need to talk about resilience 
  • The importance of meta-devices and melodrama
  • The Law & Order SVU-niverse

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Carmen go to her website (which has a badass picture of her in a chair). Here’s an interview with Carmen that goes horrifically wrong on Electric Lit. Here’s Carmen talking about haunted houses and horror movies on the American Hysteria podcast. And if you’d like to read one of her stories, here’s the early version one we reference the most, “The Husband Stitch“.

• My essay from 2010 “Looking at Men” describes the clouded shower glass incident.

• McArthur Award-winning writer Kelly Link comes up a lot on this episode. Have you listened to AEWCH 44 with Kelly, Jordy Rosenberg, and me? It’s awesome. Also, here’s Kelly’s essay about the “silent partner.

• Here’s an interview with the great Argentine writer, César Aira.

• It looks like Grant Morrison’s Seaguy is not available on bookshop.org, so here it is from that, uh, other place. 

• If you haven’t read Susan Sontag’s essay, “Against Interpretation,” read it, friends. And if you have read it, read it again. Same goes for H.P. Lovecraft’s essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature“.

• And the Lovecraft quote is, ““The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

• Here’s my essay “If You Ever Did Write Anything About Me, I’d Want It To Be About Love” about the boyfriend who beat me up, which is mentioned at the end of Carmen’s memoir (and through which Carmen and I first communicated).

• I love author Sara Maria Griffin’s appearance on AEWCH 93. It remains one of my very favorite episodes.

• I have not yet read Jeannie Vanasco’s Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was A Girl but I definitely will now. I also (forgive me, Father!) have not yet seen Fleabag. I will, I will, I will!

• Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s movie The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kantis one of the best films ever made. And also watch Lars Von Trier’s Dogville for another sort of disorientation.

Until next time friends, follow your desires!
XO
CH

There are ghosts.

19 Jan

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This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.Want to buy the books mentioned on this ep? For Edward’s books, and other books mentioned on or related to this episode, please go to my booklist for AEWCH 138 on bookshop.org. It will  help support independent bookstores, and the show gets a small financial kickback, too.

Friends,
Why are we drawn to ghosts but frightened of them? Why do we feel compelled to take them seriously on some level, but on the other hand dismiss them? And why do some places just feel haunted?

In a time of the dead, in a time when dying is so present for so many, what new attitudes towards death and its spectres will arise?

I had a great time traversing this spooky territory with Edward Parnell, author of the haunted and excellent nonfiction travelogue-meets-literary-criticism-meets-memoir Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country, and the gothic novel The Listeners.

To give you a little indication of his style, I asked Edward to start the episode with a very brief reading from Ghostland, then we’re into the conversation.And I start with two ghost stories of my own to indicate different ways that ghosts can lead us down strange and mysterious paths both as individuals and culturally.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • What is the aesthetic of the ghost story?
  • The way the Satanic panic severed the connection to ghost stories in the US vs in the UK.
  • How the transparency of history creates the resonance of ghosts.
  • New horror stories reflecting the way spirituality permeates culture.
  • The many ways which we dismiss the existence of ghosts.
  • The presence of fairies in Ireland vs the ghost of ghosts in the UK.
  • The middle class resistance to ghosts.
  • Imperialism vs ghosts.
  • Why do we turn away from grief?
  • The creeping fear of UK short ghost/weird fiction.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Ed, go to his website (where you can find, among other things, his essay on the fear of falling). And here he is talking about Stephen King’s Pet Semetary on The Constant Reader Podcast. And here’s a short interview with him on the Folk Horror Revival website.

• The PSA announcement “Lonely Water” is…no joke…pretty scary! You can watch it here. And here’s the main figure in it. Watch out kids, if you don’t drown, you’ll live in fear of drowning your entire life.

• Here’s a great list of all the “video nasties” Edward mentioned, including The Driller Killer.• There’s a great book on what was going on in philosophy around the same time as many of the writers mentioned in Ghostland, by Wolfram Eilenberger entitled Time of the Magicians: Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the Decade That Reinvented Philosophy.

“Babes in the Woods” by Mary Black is kind of an eerie song!

• We mention Roger Clarke’s thesis about class and ghosts, which you can find in longer form in his book, Ghosts: A Natural History.

• Would you like to learn more about the bone crypt at Holy Trinity Church? Why of course you would.• For another AEWCH episode about changing attitudes towards the spiritual, check out AEWCH 98 with Thomas Waters on which we talk all about witchcraft (it’s one of my favorites).

• Finally, check out Ed’s photo of the rocking horse in author Lucy Boston‘s house. Why are rocking horses this scary? 

My novel, Hawk Mountain, out in 2021 from W.W. Norton in the US, and Penguin/Doubleday in Ireland and the UK.

17 Apr

Friends, some good news.
My (very dark) novel, Hawk Mountain, will be published by W.W. Norton in the US and Penguin/Doubleday in Ireland and the UK in summer of 2021.
I can barely believe it.
My whole life I’ve wanted to be a novelist.
I’m beaming, friends.
Hi.
Can’t wait to share my book with you.

HM

The Publishers Market entry

The kind of death we want to read about: Conner & crime writer Liz Nugent on the latest AEWCH

31 Mar


L
ISTEN HERE OR ON iTunesSpotifyOvercastSoundcloud • Patreon

This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. If the show is keeping you company in isolation, please give what you can. Contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.

AEWCH104TitleCardFriends,

The last podcast I recorded in person before the worldwide coronavirus pandemic began was still about death. But it’s a sort of death we like to engage with – death in crime and mystery narratives. Interestingly, these sorts of deaths, and our vantage point on them, has become more valuable than ever; because it gives us an opportunity to think about death without the attachment of panic and fear.

And what a great person to talk to about death with: international best-selling crime writer, Liz Nugent!

Liz is the author of four crime novels. I read Lying In Wait, first. It’s a tense and tragic thriller. It evokes Patricia Highsmith and the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, but with a gesture and style all its own. Then I consumed the other three as quickly as I could; I wanted to inhale them, including her latest, Our Little Cruelties.

That book was released just as the pandemic began. And in fact, today (March 31), was set to be her book release party. Since her party was canceled, I hope this serves as a smaller, audio celebration. If you need the company of a page-turned in this moment, you’d be hard pressed to find a better set of novels than Liz’s for that.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • How much we’re supposed to care about death
  • How Liz is about to meet a murderer and see if they have souls or not
  • Dreams of murder and being murdered
  • Jeffrey Dahmer and unhappy childhoods
  • The way we think of bad guys, and who gets away with what
  • Our early thoughts on coronavirus (they hold up okay!)
  • How Liz’s writing is and is not like Patricia Highsmith
  • The tendency to attached tragedy and foreboding to joy and pleasure
  • Career dysmorphia
  • The difficulties of bodies, living and dead
  • What characters are and how we relate to them as writes
  • The uses of shattered narratives
  • Why, when we read novels, we want horrible characters to succeed

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Liz: Read her books! Start with Lying In Wait and move on to Skin Deep, which is interspersed with brilliant stories of Irish island mythology. The best way to get Our Little Cruelties in the US right now is on audiobook (until it’s out in November as a book with the alternate title, Little Cruelties). You can also get Lying In Wait and Unraveling Oliver on audiobook, too! Also, go to Liz’s website. And here’s Liz talking about disabilities on the Rósín Meets… podcast.

• The other mystery writer I’ve had on the show is Sara Gran, who appeared on AEWCH 61. It serves as a good companion to this show; two incredible authors with two completely different approaches to genre.

• I read and appreciated My Friend Dahmer, a graphic novel by one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood friends, Derf Backderf. (The movie is okay too, but the graphic novel is far superior.)

• Who doesn’t love Alice Munroe? My favorite by her, if you need a place to start, is The Love Of A Good Woman.

• Liz mentions The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. I haven’t yet read it, or her debut novel, The Flamethrowers, but I will! They both look great. And I mention From A Low And Quiet Sea, by Donal Ryan, which I have read, and enjoyed very much!

Martha by Rainer Werner Fassbinder is one of the cruelest movies ever made, but it’sMartha also excellent. Watch it. Watch all his movies.

• And read Cal by Bernard MacLaverty, it’s such a wonderful and dark and rich book, even though it’s very short.

• Here’s the intense Nina Simone concert Liz mentioned, which inspired Our Little Cruelties. Wow.

• And here’s AEWCH 86 with the amazing Irish writer, Kevin Barry.

• Okay, I’m being a little unfair about Pay It Forward. If you need a heartening read, read it!

• When I was photographed for the photo below, I thought I was fat and disgusting (seriously!). Body dysmorphia is an intense thing, folks.

• Liz got guidance on
Our Little Cruelties from writer and fashion social editor, Bethany Rutter.

• Watch Anthony Jeselnik’s comedy specials: he refers to them as horror. I think he’s right!

Until next week, friends!
XO
CH

showers copy

“Reverb-ing all of human existence.” A conversation with author Maggie Nelson on AEWCH 95!

7 Jan

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This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. One thing to bring forward in 2020? Associative economics. Support the artists you like and let’s do as much as possible to cut out corporate sponsorship. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.

AEWCH95TitleCard

Friends,
What a way to start the year, with author, teacher, and intellectual, Maggie Nelson. Maggie Nelson is the author of so many deep and potent books, including The Argonauts, about art and politics and the body, including her partner Harry Dodge’s experiences of gender and culture. She is also the author of two books about her aunt’s murder, The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial and Jane: A Murder, as well an incredible book about violence in art, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning. She was awarded a MacArthur in 2016 and is one of the most important  intellectuals of our time (though perhaps she’d reject that label!). 
This is an extremely wide ranging episode, as I’d expect from a conversation with Maggie, whose books move in and out of hundreds of different thinkers and artists, translating her encounters with them into a new kind of light. I love her writing.
I’m so proud to share this conversation with you.
We talk about (among other things):
  • Passion as an affirmation against materialism
  • Escorting as permission for desire
  • Why frustrated desire might be worse than death
  • The value of losing your self
  • Why a shrug against danger matters
  • Thoreau, Emerson, and being a good artist or a bad prism
  • The shapes and lives of art
  • The uses of occult perspectives
  • The ruse of the anti-social
  • Wittgenstein and the music of the spheres
  • The uses, rituals, and boundaries of seeing violence 
  • Why porn literacy is dumb
  • Bodhisattva vows

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Maggie, you can read some of her poetry here. Here’s a video featuring panel of people (including Maggie) talking about Maggie’s book, The Argonauts. And here is a great conversation between Maggie and her friend (and AEWCH 44 co-guest with Kelly Link!) Jordy Rosenberg in Out Magazine.
• Maggie mentions her partner Harry’s forthcoming book, My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing. You can preorder it now, and it looks great.
• Maggie and I were both provoked and interested in Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era by Paul Preciado (a dream guest for the show!)
• My essay on having sex at rest areas, “Rest Stop Confidential” feels a bit outdated now, but it’s still good, I think.
• John O’Donohue’s book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace, is one of the most beautiful books ever written.
EKS• Please look into the work of the amazing critical theorist, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick who Maggie studied with. A good place to start is Epistemology of the Closet or Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire.
• The Rudolf Steiner verse, which you can try reciting inwardly, too, to see how it feels:
More radiant than the Sun
Purer than the snow
Subtler than the ether
Is the Self
The spirit within my heart
I am that Self.
That Self am I.
• The Emerson quote is: “It is not words only that are emblematic; it is things which are emblematic. Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.”
• Helen Keller’s mysticism informed her politics and her work in the world. You can read about in in her book Light In My Darkness.
• Maggie’s quote, “I think I give in the writing, mostly, but also as a teacher, and just by being. I don’t think of it as “giving back” per se. And mentoring doesn’t always mean holding someone’s hand. It’s often just by example… We can be for each other beacons of possibility. Often that’s the most important thing.” set me to thinking so much about being a beacon that I spoke about it at length on Rune Soup 195 with Gordon White. I also talk about speaking poetically on there, as well as on AEWCH 93, with Sara Maria Griffin.
• I haven’t yet read the book Maggie mentioned, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, by Stefano Harney and Frank Moten, but I am going to, now. It sounds so good.
• The dead spiritual teacher I prayed to for guidance after being exposed to violence on the guy’s phone, Daskalos, who I talk about at length with his student (a spiritual teacheDr in his own right), Daniel Joseph, on AEWCH 67.
Narrow Rooms by James Purdy is one of the most extraordinary novels I’ve ever read. Read it.
• A good quote on violence from Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta: “(Violence), by its very nature, to suffocate the best sentiments of man, and to develop all the antisocial qualities, ferocity, hatred, revenge, the spirit of domination and tyranny, contempt of the weak, servility towards the strong.”
• You can look at some of Tala Madani‘s work on the 303 Gallery website, including an excerpt of “The Audience” which Maggie talks about at some length.
• I loved talking with Franco “Bifo” Berardi on AEWCH 83 about the challenge of white noise.
• Maggie brings up the amazing British artist Sara Lucas. You can watch a conversation between the two of them here.
That’s it, folks, but it’s a lot, isn’t it?
Until next time!
XO
CH

TM

“Light Table” by Tala Madani

Why we need the dark imagination. Me + Sarah Maria Griffin on AEWCH 93

10 Dec

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This podcast is only possible because listeners like you support it. Do contribute to my mission by supporting Against Everyone With Conner Habib on Patreon!  Thank you so, so much.
AEWCH93TitleCardFriends,
Let’s enter the mystery together: You, me, and dark science fiction writer Sarah Maria Griffin. Let’s talk about violence and evil and owls. Let’s think about David Lynch’s uncanny power, and how magic works, how horror works. Let’s approach the paranormal, the dreadful, the uncommon.
Sarah is the author of multiple books, most recently the excellent novel, Other Words For Smoke, about a brother and sister encounter the sinister and strange forces in their aunt’s house. The book just won the Eason Teen/Young Adult Book of the Year 2019 here in Ireland. Her previous novel, Spare And Found Parts chronicles a post-apocalyptic world with a hopeful girl at its center, trying to move humanity forward while her machine heart ticks away.
Sarah and I had a profound and potent conversation, and after we finished the episode, we continued to talk about the entire world, and love, and fortune. And then all the lights on my block switched off. Now that’s a powerful connection!
This is one of my favorite episodes of AEWCH ever. As Sarah says at the end, we “move immediately past…small talk.” Couldn’t ask for anything more.
So excited to share it with you!
We discuss:
  • Magic, the paranormal and why they’re so troubling for people
  • Twin Peaks as evil and threat and occult power
  • Horror is No-One-Believes-You, Fantasy is We-All-Knew-This-Was-Real-Even-Though-You’re-Just-Learning-About-It
  • Why investigating mystery can fuck you up
  • Not-knowing as an act of compassion
  • Sarah’s leap in style and vulnerability in writing
  • Following desire and characters
  • The unendingness of Hell
  • Why questions are always appropriate tools
  • The tarot as anatomy (and why it gives us unsolicited dick pics sometimes)
  • What a world of caring about subjectivity looks like (and why Freud got that right)
  • Why there is no metric for violation or resilience
  • Fiction as a generator of compassion and empathy
  • The importance of speaking poetically
SHOW NOTES
• For more on Sarah, read her entertaining and thoughtful one-year memoir, Not Lost: A Story About Leaving Home. Here are here contributions to the legendary Irish lit magazine, The Stinging Fly. And here’s Sarah talking about empathy.
TP• I’m sure you’ve all seen Twin Peaks, but have you seen the newest season? It’s utterly terrifying and completely challenging. It is a true act of occult intensity. The episode we talk a lot about it Part 8. 
• Sarah mentions the eclectic and wonder-filled story collection Her Body And Other Parties by the great Carmen Maria Machado. She also gives a shout out to Leslie Jamison’s poignant collection of essays, The Empathy Exams.
James Tate was a Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning poet. He was an infrequent but happy friend of mine, as well. He died in 2015.
• If you’re American, you’ve probably heard of the spooky immersive theater experience, Sleep No More. If not, check it out.
• I really love the episode I did with experimental punk musician and author Tim Kinsella – AEWCH 43. He’s a hero of mine, and I feel blessed to have had the conversation. I posted a playlist on spotify of Tim’s music to go along with that episodes. It demonstrates his breadth and strangeness and inventiveness as an artist.
KD• A couple of first lines come quick on each other’s heels. First, I mention the first line of Sarah’s novel, Spare And Found Parts: “Just under the surface of the waves where the ocean met the land, a hand without a body reached for someone to grab it.” And then I mention the chilling first line of Kathryn Davis’s novel, Hell. “Something is wrong in the house.”
• Want to read Alejandro Jodorowsky on the tarot? Read his book on it, co-authored with Marianne Costa.
• I mention, briefly, a man who was harassing Sarah and other women in Ireland, and how she was compassionate in her response. For a quick summary of what happened, here’s an article in the Irish Times about it.
• There’s a great book by anthroposophist and inkling Owen Barfield on the move away from poetics and towards flat literalism. It’s titled Poetic Diction: A Study In Meaning.
Until next time,
XO
CH
lungfish

Witches, Fairies, Violence, Ireland: Fiction Writer Kevin Barry on AEWCH 86!

8 Oct

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Friends,

What an honor to talk to one of the greatest living fiction writers, Kevin Barry. And to talk with him not about “how do you get your ideas?” or “what’s your writing practice like”? But instead about witches, healers, fairies, violence,  the radical history of Ireland, and more.

Kevin’s latest novel, The Night Boat To Tangier , was longlisted for the Booker Prize. His novel before that, Beatlbone follows John Lennon on a mystical vision quest to find an island off the Irish coast. It’s a novel so strange and moving that you wouldn’t have to even like The Beatles to be caught up in its weird web.

Also, Kevin reads his absolutely brutal story, “A Cruelty” in his excellent, sinister Christian Bale-esque reading voice.

Apologies – the episode gets cut off just as we start discussing Twin Peaks. But we only spoke for about five more minutes after that. And besides, I’ll have Kevin back on. This is a great conversation and I absolutely want to continue it.

We talk:

  • Kevin’s superstitions
  • Animism and fiction
  • Irish writers and writers of the American South
  • how accents change fiction
  • How we add to the landscape as we walk through it
  • Kevin’s encounters with
  • Writing and dreams
  • The fairies and The Pixies
  • When Kevin was healed by witchcraft before playing video games
  • The non-linearity of time
  • Primal scream therapy in Ireland
  • Evil’s home in art

SHOW NOTES

AEWCH86TITLECARD

Rel@tionships: Writer and digital lit theorist Joanna Walsh on AEWCH 84

24 Sep

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AEWCH84TitleCardFriends,
We have so many inherited metaphors about love, relating, and intimacy, that even the thought of new narratives about them makes us uncomfortable. Well, good. Let’s be uncomfortable. To that end, I spoke with writer and literary & digital theorist Joanna Walsh, whose work explores the contours (and corners and failed uploads)( of love and intimacy, and relationships.
When I read Joanna’s book of stories Vertigo, a few years back, I knew I wanted to talk with her. Joanna’s fiction has an intense and even at times relentless quality of repetition, of observation. It’s the sort of fiction that gives you the sense that you are not just engaged with the efforts of a great writer, but a great thinker too. The conversation is, as usual, wide-ranging, but we stay close to the idea of how we relate to one another and why our old ideas of relating are not enough to describe our experiences.
Talking with Joanna is a dizzying experience because she is so brilliant, so learned, and able to articulate so many profound truths in clear, concise language. I’m honored to have gotten the chance to spend time with her. Three good places to start: her book of short stories, (which she reads from), her novel, Break.up: A Novel In Essays, and her book of pornographic fairy tales Grow A Pair.
We discuss
  • How intimacy is formed
  • How the I is composed by others
  • Tension in fairy tales
  • Why we have sex to masturbate
  • Theorists with bad ethics
  • Experimental writing as a way of relating
  • “Emotional logic problems”
  • Living in tension
  • The emotions women are “supposed” to feel in their assigned roles
  • The occult bodies and technological intervention
  • What the internet gives, what the internet takes away
  • Watching porn in clips instead of a whole movie
  • Who we are in our normal lives (and how that contains our creative and erotic life)
And in addition to the conversation, Joanna also reads her entrancing story, “Vagues”!

 

The moral of the story is… How Aesop confronts empire, with Carlo Gébler on AEWCH 78!

30 Jul

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Friends,
How exciting to welcome fiction writer, memoirist, and Aesop scholar Carlo Gébler to AEWCH to discuss how Aesop’s fables present insight into fighting empire, how the powerful tell their stories, and more!
Carlo is a staple here in the Irish literary landscape. The son of famed Irish author Edna O’Brien and famed/infamous Irish author Ernest Gébler, Carlo was named after Karl Marx and has taught writing for years, including in prisons. He’s written nearly 30 books for adults and children plus plays in total. His latest book, Aesop’s Fables: The Cruelty of the Gods, which is beautifully (and intensely!) illustrated by Gavin Weston, retells 190 (!) of Aesop’s tales, adding humor and amplifying the brutality of each one.
But, as you’ll hear on the episode, Carlo isn’t just retelling these tales for entertainment (though they are extremely entertaining), he sees in them strategies for resistance and hints at how power works. And Carlo reads a few of Aesop’s fables, including “The Clever Lamb and the Wolf”, “The Frogs Who Demanded A King”, “The Flute Playing Wolf and the Dancing Kid”, and my favorite, “The Fox and the Farmer”.
Until next week,
XO
CH
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