The History of Literature #142 – Comedian Joe Pera Talks With Us

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Comedian Joe Pera has been hailed as one of the top “Comedians Under 30,” “20 of the Most Innovative Comedians Working Today,” and the “Cozy Sweater of Comedy.” His lovable, pleasantly awkward delivery style has made him a breakout star on the standup circuit and on late-night shows like Conan and Late Night with Seth Meyers.

In this special episode of The History of Literature, Joe joins Jacke to discuss the comedians he grew up admiring, his first attempts at standup, and his new television show Joe Pera Talks with You, which premieres on May 20 on Adult Swim, the #1 network with millennials 18-34. Special bonus: Jacke tries his hand at writing a few jokes about literature. Will they earn the admiration of a professional comedian? We’ll see!

For more information about Joe Pera and his show Joe Pera Talks with You, visit the Joe Pera website or his Twitter account @JosephPera.

To listen to the notorious Madame Bovary episode, head to Episode 79 – Music That Melts the Stars – Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.

For more about literature and comedy (and another dose of Christopher Guest, try Episode 96 – Dracula, Lolita, and the Power of Volcanoes (with Jim Shepard).

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or on Twitter @thejackewilson.

 

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The History of Literature #141 – Kurt Vonnegut (with Mike Palindrome)

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“The year was 2081,” the story begins, “and everyone was finally equal.” In this episode of the History of Literature, Jacke and Mike take a look at Kurt Vonnegut’s classic short story, “Harrison Bergeron.” In this 1961 story, Vonnegut imagines a world of the perfectly average, where no one is allowed to be too great – until a hero named Harrison Bergeron comes along. Along the way, we discuss Vonnegut’s life and works, what we think the story means, and Mike’s own attempt to limit himself in order to better function in society. SPOILER ALERT: THERE ARE NO SPOILERS! This episode is completely self-contained. We read the short story, so there’s no need to run out and read it on your own first (unless you want to).

For another self-contained episode on a classic twentieth-century short story, try Episode 139 – “A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka.

For more about short stories in general, try Episode 57 – Borges, Munro, Davis, Barthelme – All About Short Stories (and Long Ones Too).

Kurt Vonnegut makes a cameo appearance in Episode 101 Writers at Work (you’ll never guess his surprising avocation).

And for another high school favorite, try Episode 119 – The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literatureor historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or via our new Twitter handle, @thejackewilson.

The History of Literature #140 – Pulp Fiction and the Hardboiled Crime Novel (with Charles Ardai)

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In 1896, an enterprising man named Frank Munsey published the first copy of Argosy, a magazine that combined cheap printing, cheap paper, and cheap authors to bring affordable, high-entertainment fiction to working-class folks. Within six years, Argosy was selling a half a million copies a month, and the American fiction market would never be the same. In this special episode of The History of Literature, we’re joined by Charles Ardai, a man who helped to resurrect one of twentieth-century pulp fiction’s brightest stars: the hardboiled crime novel, with its brooding heroes, high-energy prose, fast-paced plots, and seductive painted covers. His publishing line, Hard Case Crime, brings back forgotten and never-published manuscripts of old masters as well as new novels by contemporary authors like Stephen King and Christa Faust– and returns readers to the days when a dangling cigarette and a tumbler of whiskey was almost enough to make you forget the dame who nearly got you killed. Almost.

Authors discussed include Stephen King, Paul Auster, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, E. Howard Hunt, Charles Ardai, Christa Faust, Arthur Conan Doyle, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Browning, Mickey Spillane, Robert Bloch, Donald Westlake/Richard Stark, Michael Crichton/John Lange, J.K. Rowling, Lawrence Block, Erle Stanley Gardner, Madison Smartt Bell, Robert Parker, Ed McBain, David Dodge, Edgar Rice Burroughs, James Joyce, and Charles Dickens.

For more on writing contemporary thrillers, try Episode 109 – Women of Mystery (with Christina Kovac)

For historical mysteries, try Episode 40 – “A Front-Page Affair” (with Radha Vatsal) or her encore appearance in Episode 99 – History and Mystery (with Radha Vatsal)

For more on the connection between the Romantics and modern-day crime fiction, try Episode 65 – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (with Professor James Chandler)

For another dose of Humphrey Bogart, try Episode 135 – Aristotle Goes to the Movies (with Brian Price)

Help support the show at patreon.com/literatureor historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or via our new Twitter handle, @thejackewilson.

History of Literature #139 – “A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka

In 1922, the miserable genius Franz Kafka wrote a short story, Ein Hungerkünstler (A Hunger Artist), about another miserable genius: a man whose “art” is to live in a cage and display his fasting ability to crowds that don’t always appreciate what he is trying to do. Inspired by actual historical figures, though suffused with nostalgia and Kafka’s penetrating insight, the story asks us to reconsider our conceptions of art and spectacle, life and death, hunger and humanity. Host Jacke Wilson is joined by superguest Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, to feast on one of the greatest short stories ever written.

For more on Franz Kafka, try Episode 134 – The Greatest Night of Franz Kafka’s Life

For more on short stories, try Episode 57 – Borges, Munro, Davis, Barthelme – All About Short Stories (And Long Ones Too)

For a deep dive into Alice Munro’s “A Bear Came Over the Mountain,” try Episode 115 – The Genius of Alice Munro

For a deep dive into Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” try Episode 110 – Heart of Darkness – Then and Now

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or via our new Twitter handle, @thejackewilson.

History of Literature Episode #138 – Why Poetry (with Matthew Zapruder)

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In his new book Why Poetry, the poet Matthew Zapruder has issued “an impassioned call for a return to reading poetry and an incisive argument for its accessibility to all readers.” The poet Robert Hass says, “Zapruder on poetry is pure pleasure. His prose is so direct that you have the impression, sentence by sentence, that you are being told simple things about a simple subject and by the end of each essay you come to understand that you’ve been on a very rich, very subtle tour of what’s aesthetically and psychologically amazing about the art of poetry.”

In this episode, Matthew Zapruder joins Jacke for a discussion on why poetry is often misunderstood, and how readers can clear away the misconceptions and return to an appreciation for the charms and power of poetry. Along the way, they discuss poems by W.H. Auden, Brenda Hillman, and John Keats, and the views of critics like Harold Bloom, Giambattista Vico, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Paul Valery.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or via our new Twitter handle, @thejackewilson.

History of Literature Episode #137 – Haruki Murakami

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Haruki Murakami (b. 1949) is one of the rare writers who combines literary admiration with widespread appeal. Host Jacke Wilson is joined by lifelong Murakami fan Mike Palindrome to discuss what makes his novels so compelling, so mysterious, and so popular. Works discussed include The Wind-Up Bird ChronicleNorwegian WoodKafka on the Shore, and many others. Special Bonus Quiz: Can you tell the difference between famous quotes by Murakami and YA novelist John Green?

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or our new Twitter handle, @thejackewilson.

History of Literature Episode #136 – The Kids Are All Right (Aren’t They?) Making the Case for Literature

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Does literature matter? Why read at all? Jacke Wilson takes questions from high school students and attempts to make the case for literature.

Works and authors discussed include Beloved, The Great Gatsby, Shakespeare, The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm, Scarlet Letter, Of Mice and Men, the Odyssey, The Inferno, The House on Mango Street, Farenheit 451, 1984, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Where the Red Fern Grows, Pride and Prejudice, Junot Diaz, Drown, Maya Angelou, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, J.K. Rowling, Paul Auster, Sara Gruen, Alice Sebold, Lorrie Moore, Sandra Cisneros, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Isabel Allende, Ernest Hemingway, Martin Amis, Colson Whitehead, Edwidge Danticat, Ronica Dhar, David Sedaris, Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith, Junot Diaz, Vu Tran, Julia Alvarez, Amy Tan, Gish Jen, Margot Livesey, Cristina Garcia, George Saunders, Jennifer Egan, Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, James McBride, Shawna Yang Ryan, Charles Baxter, Nick Hornby, Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or @WriterJacke.