In our last episode, we looked at the decision by Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard to purchase a printing press and run it out of their home. What began as a hobby – a relief from the strains of writing – soon turned into a genuine business, as The Hogarth Press met with success. And when Virginia published one of her most famous stories “Kew Gardens,” the dam burst, and the Woolfs and their press had to prepare for a dramatic increase in sales. In this episode, Jacke continues and concludes the story of the Hogarth Press, including a close look at the story that changed the press’s fortunes.
“All you have to do is write one true sentence,” Ernest Hemingway said in A Moveable Feast. “Write the truest sentence that you know.” And so he did: the man wrote thousands of sentences, all in search of “truth” of some kind. What does a “true sentence” mean for a fiction writer? What true sentences did Hemingway himself write? And how much of this is in the eye of the beholder?
In this episode, Jacke is joined by Mark Cirino, the host of the One True Podcast and author of the book One True Sentence: Writers and Readers on Hemingway’s Art, for a discussion of Hemingway, his quest for true sentences, and what that has meant for dozens of contemporary readers. (Special bonus: Mark and Jacke roam through Hemingway’s works before choosing their own true sentences.)
Author Robin Hemley joins Jacke for a discussion of Kafka, writerly ambition, and his new novel Oblivion: An After Autobiography, which tells the story of a midlist author who finds himself in the posthumous world where authors fade from obscurity into the world of Oblivion…unless they can manage to write their way out.
Mark Twain was an enormously successful writer and a horrendous businessperson, with a weakness for gadgets and inventions that cost him a fortune. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at his efforts to start his own publishing company, which started off strong but quickly descended into bankruptcy and ruin. What was he trying to accomplish? And what were the books that brought him down?
After that, Mike Palindrome, the President of the Literature Supporters Club, joins Jacke for part two of a discussion on great literary terms and devices. The two old friends recount the first ten they chose and – tongues firmly in cheek – select THE GREATEST LITERARY TERMS OF ALL TIME, numbers 11-20.
Jacke talks to actress and novelist Meg Tilly about her unusual childhood, her life as a ballet dancer and Hollywood star, and her current life writing thrillers in the peaceful Pacific Northwest.
THE RUNAWAY HEIRESS is the pulse-pounding story of a brave woman who finds herself falling for a big-shot film director while trying to stay one step ahead of the man who will do anything to find her.
Meg Tilly may be best known for her acclaimed Golden Globe-winning performance in the movie Agnes of God. Other screen credits include The Big Chill, Valmont, and, more recently, Bomb Girls and the Netflix movie War Machine, starring Brad Pitt. After publishing six standout young adult and literary women’s fiction novels, the award-winning author/actress decided to write the kind of books she loves to read: romance novels. Tilly has three grown children and resides with her husband in the Pacific Northwest.
Debut novelist A. Natasha Joukovsky (The Portrait of a Mirror) joins Jacke for a discussion of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Ovid’s myth of Narcissus, the fascinating power of recursions, and a life lived in the worlds of literature, business, and art.
THE PORTRAIT OF A MIRROR is a stunning reinvention of the myth of Narcissus as a modern novel of manners, about two young, well-heeled couples whose parallel lives intertwine over the course of a summer, by a sharp new voice in fiction.
A. NATASHA JOUKOVSKY holds a BA in English from the University of Virginia and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business. She spent five years in the art world, working at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before pivoting into management consulting. The Portrait of a Mirror is her debut novel. She lives in Washington, D.C.
In gratitude to Natasha for appearing on The History of Literature Podcast, a donation has been made to the LGBTQ Freedom Fund (lgbtqfund.org).
Finally! At long last, Jacke responds to years of requests from his Brazilian listeners to take a closer look at Machado de Assis, the novelist whom critic Harold Bloom called simply “a miracle.” In this episode, author and Brazilian friend Claudia Laitano joins Jacke to discuss Machado’s life, works, and legacy. Enjoy!
Yang Huang, author of the new novel My Good Son, joins Jacke for a discussion of her childhood in China, how censorship restricted her ability to imagine stories, and how George Eliot’s Middlemarch helped her break free from these limitations. We also discuss her work as a novelist and what it’s like to be an Asian American during a period of highly visible anti-Asian sentiment.
YANG HUANG grew up in China and has lived in the United States since 1990. Her novel MY GOOD SON won the University of New Orleans Publishing Lab Prize. Her linked story collection, MY OLD FAITHFUL, won the Juniper Prize, and her debut novel, LIVING TREASURES, won the Nautilus Book Award silver medal. She works for the University of California, Berkeley and lives in the Bay Area with her family. To learn more about Yang and her writing, visit http://www.yanghuang.com or follow her on Twitter: @yangwrites.
In our last episode, we examined the evidence of Jane Austen’s 1995-96 dalliance with her “Irish friend,” the gentlemanlike (but impoverished) young law student Tom Lefroy. Intriguingly, she began writing Pride and Prejudice, her classic novel of romance, love, and mixed messages, later that year. Might Tom have been the inspiration for the beloved Mr. Darcy? And might Jane herself have been the model for the even more beloved Elizabeth Bennet? Jacke takes a look at the possible connections, reads several passages from the novel itself, and offers some thoughts on the attempts to find a Darcy-Lizzy relationship somewhere in the real-life example of Tom and Jane.
Although I’ve decided not to share my opening sentence here, I’m grateful for your post, Jacke. 18 K-plus words later, I honestly couldn’t remember what my first sentence was. Today was one of those days when I wondered if anything I had written thus far was worthwhile. Thanks to your post, I discovered that at least my first sentence and the paragraph that followed were worth keeping. The rest will have to wait until I’m finished writing and ready to edit from the beginning. Thank you for making me curious enough to look back today, at least for a moment 🙂
Great to hear! Someday I hope to be mentioned in the novel’s acknowledgments, even if it’s just as “…and many others who offered their support along the way.”
Our contest is still open. And let me tell you, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the ones where the novelist calls our special number and reads their first line aloud, or clicks on our webpage that lets you just read it aloud to your computer. (Or the ones where people just read their favorite first lines from their favorite novels ever, which is a separate contest, also still open, and also with a free book giveaway at the end of it.)