The History of Literature #181 – David Foster Wallace (with Mike Palindrome)

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Frequent guest Mike Palindrome takes the wheel for another solo episode on David Foster Wallace, including a deep dive into Wallace’s unfinished manuscript The Pale King, published posthumously in 2011.

DAVID FOSTER WALLACE (1962-2008) was an American author best known for his novels The Broom in the System and Infinite Jest, his story collection Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, his essay collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, and his graduation speech to Kenyon College, published under the title This Is Water. Known for his writerly struggles to advance the novel form beyond irony and postmodernism, as well as for his personal struggles with depression, drug addiction, and suicidal tendencies, David Foster Wallace died of his own hand in 2008. In the years since his death, new biographical information has emerged, including several disturbing incidents regarding women whom Wallace treated poorly, including stalking incidents and other alarming incidents and allegations. Today, Wallace has an uneasy relationship with the literary canon: widely recognized as a brilliant if sometimes narcissistic talent, possessed of both genius-like intelligence and deep flaws both as a writer and a human being. Today, his reputation is a source of contention: Was he a prophetlike figure who surpassed his peers and superseded all who came before? Or a smart but flawed man whose worst tendencies led him to generate thickets of navel-gazing and unreadability?

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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The History of Literature #177 – Sherwood Anderson (with Alyson Hagy)

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One hundred years ago, a collection of short stories by a little-known author from Ohio burst onto the literary scene, causing a minor scandal for their sexual frankness. In the years since, Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919) became more famous for its insightful portrayal of a town filled with friendly but solitary individuals, who wrestle with questions of love and lust, art and ambition, deep frustrations and the desire for spiritual uplift. How well have these stories held up? And how well do they speak to us today? We’ll talk with Alyson Hagy, author of the new novel Scribe, about this often overlooked American masterpiece – and we’ll see how it’s informed her own writing career.

SHERWOOD ANDERSON (1876-1941) grew up in a small town in Ohio before leaving in a state of desperation for Chicago and a literary career. His novels and short stories were often cited by the next generation of American writers (Wolfe, Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald) as helping them to develop their own literary voice.

ALYSON HAGY was raised on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She is the author of eight works of fiction, including Scribe and Boleto. She lives in Laramie, Wyoming.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

The History of Literature #174 – David Foster Wallace (A Mike Palindrome Special!)

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Ask and ye shall receive! It’s an all-Mike episode devoted entirely to one of his literary heroes, David Foster Wallace. Enjoy!

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

The History of Literature #170 – Toni Morrison

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TONI MORRISON (b. 1931) is one of the most successful and admired authors in the history of American literature. Her novels include The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977) and Beloved (1987), which is widely considered to be her masterpiece. After successful careers in both academia and publishing during the 1960s and ’70s, Morrison’s critical and commercial success enabled her to devote more time to her writing. In 1993, the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature to Morrison, “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”

In this episode, host Jacke Wilson intersperses Toni Morrison’s biographical details and literary achievements with a discussion of his first encounters with Morrison’s works and what they meant to him.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

The History of Literature #163 – Gabriel García Márquez (with Sarah Bird)

In this episode, Jacke welcomes author Sarah Bird to the program to talk about her background, her writing, and her readerly passion for the fiction of the great twentieth-century novelist, Gabriel García Márquez.

GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ (1927-2014) was one of the most revered and influential novelists of the twentieth century. Born in a small town in Colombia, which he later made famous as the fictionalized village “Macondo,” he drew upon the stories and storytelling styles of his grandparents and parents to formulate what came to be called “magical realism.” His books One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera have sold tens of millions of copies and stand as a testament to the power of fiction. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

SARAH BIRD is a member of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, the recipient of the Texas Institute of Letters’ Award for Distinguished Writers, and a six-time winner of the Austin Chronicle’s Best Fiction Writer Award. Her most recent novel, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, tells the story of Cathy Williams, a former slave who disguised herself as a man in order to fight alongside the Buffalo Soldiers.

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

 

The History of Literature #160 – Ray Bradbury (with Carolyn Cohagan)

Special guest Carolyn Cohagan, author of the Time Zero trilogy and founder of the creative writing workshop Girls with Pens, joins Jacke for a discussion of her writing process, her origins in standup comedy and theater, and her early love for the fiction of Ray Bradbury (and her special appreciation for his short story “All Summer in a Day”).

For another look at a twentieth-century giant who broke down genre barriers, try Episode 141 Kurt Vonnegut (with Mike Palindrome).

Love pulp fiction? Hear about the efforts of a contemporary editor to bring back the heyday of the genre, including classic twentieth-century prose and beautiful painted covers, in Episode 140 Pulp Fiction and the Hardboiled Crime Novel (with Charles Ardai).

Writing a little yourself? Hear the interview that made Carolyn run out to buy the book that passes along the secrets of fiction in Episode 133 – The Hidden Machinery (with Margot Livesey).

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

The History of Literature #159 – Herman Melville

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Today, Herman Melville (1819-1891) is considered one of the greatest of American writers, and a leading candidate for THE American novelist thanks to his classic work, Moby-Dick. How did this unpromising student become one of the most inventive and observant writers of his time? What obstacles did he face, and what did he do to overcome them? What other works of his are worth reading? Jacke, Mike, and special guest Cristina, aka The Classics Slacker, who recently spent 24 hours aboard the Charles W. Morgan listening to the novel being read, take a look at this fascinating man and his whale of a book.

Enjoy 19th-Century American authors? Try Episode 90, Mark Twain’s Final Request.

Wondering how Melville got his ideas? Learn more about one of his inspirations in Episode 111 – The Americanest American, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Ready for more adventure? Try Episode 82 – Robinson Crusoe.

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.