books

Podcast: John Moe, author of "Conservatize Me"

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John Moe, a Volkswagen Bug-driving, latte-sipping lifelong Seattleite realized, upon becoming a real grownup, that perhaps his dismissal of conservatism wasn't less righteous than it was intellectually lazy. He spent a month steeping himself in conservatism of all stripes, from the Heritage Foundation to a Toby Keith concert.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
Long-time Daily Show producer Ben Karlin
Andre Royo and Wendell Pierce of HBO's The Wire
Satirist George Saunders

Podcast: Dan Kennedy, author of "Rock On: An Office Power Ballad"

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Dan Kennedy is the author of two books of comic memoir, the most recent of which is "Rock On: An Office Power Ballad." The new book covers his brief career in the music industry, which began when he (a youngish, white Orange County native) produced a retrospective commercially for the anniversary of Motown Records, and ended in a round of mass layoffs. Kennedy has also written extensively for McSweeney's.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
Memoirist Sarah Thyre
Author and TV Host Louis Theroux
Rock Snobs with Yo La Tengo, Greg Proops and "The Rock Snob Dictionary."

Podcast: TSOYA Classic: The Power of Love with Dan Savage and Neil Strauss

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We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Clasics.

This week on the program, syndicated columnist, author and podcast host Dan Savage and writer Neil Strauss.

Dan Savage writes the syndicated sex and relationships advice column Savage Love, and hosts the podcast of the same name. He's also written several books, including "The Commitment," which focuses on his family's feelings about gay marriage. Savage himself is gay, in a committed relationship, and has a small child.

Neil Strauss has written extensively for the New York Times and ghost-written several celebrity books, but he became nationally known for his book "The Game," which delves into the world of "pick-up artists." Strauss wrote a piece on the subculture for the Times, which led to him eventually becoming a leader in the community. He recently released a sequel to the book.

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Podcast: Comedy by the Numbers with Dr. Gary Rudoren and Prof. Eric Hoffman

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Prof. Eric Hoffman and Dr. Gary Rudoren are two of the world's foremost researchers in the field of humor. Their new book, "Comedy By the Numbers" contains "The 169 secrets of humor and popularity." They promise that you don't need to be funny to be funny -- just memorize their system, and you'll quickly be impressing the cool kids.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
Patton Oswalt
Bob Odenkirk
Zach Galifianakis

Podcast: TSOYA Classic: The Gift of Gab

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We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Clasics.

On this week’s show, we’ve got This American Life contributor and writer David Rakoff, as well as California hip-hop duo Blackalicious.

David Rakoff contributes humorous essays to PRI’s This American Life and is also the author of the collection “Don’t Get Too Comfortable.”

Blackalicious, made up of Chief Xcel (DJ/producer) and Gift of Gab (MC), is a mainstay of the alternative hip-hop scene. Their most recent album is “The Craft.”

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Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Life Changes

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We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Clasics.

On this week’s show, Matt Besser of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade stops by to talk about the troupe’s new series on Bravo, Rodney Rothman discusses his new memoir, “Early Bird,” and we feature music from some New Orleans legends.

Matt Besser is a founding member of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade comedy group. He was part of the cast of the group’s Comedy Central show, which ran from 1998 to 2001. He also created Stung, an MTV hidden camera show, and starred in Crossballs, another Comedy Central series. He has appeared in films such as Junebug, and performs several times a week at the UCB Theatre in Los Angeles.

Rodney Rothman was a writer for the Late Show with David Letterman and Undeclared. At the age of 28, he retired to a Florida senior’s community. His memoir, “Early Bird,” chronicles his time as a retired man. He is an executive producer on the upcoming film Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

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Podcast: Jordan, Jesse GO! Ep 50: Making Friends with Nick Adams

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This week on the show Jesse and Jordan are joined by comedian and author Nick Adams. They discuss The Wire, Mad Men and a real live Secret Sex Party.


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Our theme music: "Love You" by The Free Design, courtesy of The Free Design and Light in the Attic Records

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Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Real Vs. Fake

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We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Clasics.

On this week’s show Real Vs. Fake, magician and actor Ricky Jay talks about his career and his book ‘Extraordinary Exhibitions’. San Francisco radio personality and stand-up comic Brian Copeland also guests. He shares details of his one man show and what it was like growing up in the most racist suburb of America.

Ricky Jay is an artist, actor and author. He is an expert on the history of magic, oddball and unusual entertainment. He can throw a playing card into the rind of a watermelon from ten paces – impressive!

“Not A Genuine Black Man” is the longest running solo show in San Francisco history. Brian Copeland, writer and star of the one man comedy show, spills the beans on what the show is all about.

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Podcast: Chris Elliott

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Chris Elliott is an alternative comedy legend. He began his career as a runner on Late Night with David Letterman, before becoming an iconic writer/performer on that show. He turned his fame into a bizarre sitcom called Get A Life and a perhaps even stranger film called Cabin Boy. More recently, he's appeared in films like There's Something About Mary, Groundhog Day and Scary Movie and in many TV shows, including The King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond. He's now an author, with a new novel called "Into Hot Air: Mounting Mount Everest."

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You might also enjoy these past interview programs:
Satirist George Saunders
Artist/Writer/Filmmaker Miranda July
Comedian Dave Hill

Interview: Antoine Wilson, author of "The Interloper" by Tim Noble

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One of the great things about hosting a show about things you think are awesome is that people who share your values listen -- and often they're awesome themselves. Novelist Antoine Wilson and I had emailed about the show before I even knew he was a writer. When he wrote a new (and highly critically acclaimed) book, "The Interloper," I had former intern Tim Noble, a fiction writer himself, talk with him about the book and writing. - Jesse

Tim Noble: The Interloper hinges on a very unique and rather drastic decision by its protagonist. How did the idea for The Interloper come about? How much was plotted beforehand and how much came about "in the moment"?

Antoine Wilson: I can trace the origins of the germ to a single thought I had while cruising eastbound on the I-80 in a silver Lincoln Town Car in the summer of 1998. The thought was this: What if, at one of these gas stations, or behind the desk of one of these motels, or in a random bar, what if I ran into the man who had murdered my half-brother almost twenty years before? What would I do? That germ remained in the back of my head another four years before it turned into Owen’s cockamamie plan. As far as plotting goes, it was all plotted “in the moment.” Only that moment lasted two years.

TN: Do you think it's possible to write a novel so closely dealing with death without the type of experience you went through?

AW: Absolutely it’s possible. Thinking deeply about experiences that are not your own is one of the novelist’s most crucial muscles. It’s the quadriceps, for heavy lifting. But of course the biceps get all the attention. In any case, what I meant by my statement was simply that I wouldn’t have chosen the subject matter if it hadn’t come from personal experience. I’m not interested in writing crime fiction, per se.

TN: The book deals in some dark and strange areas of the human psyche, but at the same time, contains a good bit of humor and reads fairly quickly. Is there a line between literature and "pop" fiction, and, if so, do you give much thought to what category your own writing might fall under? I'm thinking during the editing process particularly.

AW: I’ve been trying to define some of these things for myself recently, so it’s good you ask. My working distinction between so-called pop or genre fiction and so-called literature is that while the former aims to create a specific, almost programmatic experience for the reader, the latter is more open to how it is read and received. You get the sense in the former that the writer has created an entertainment, whereas with the latter the writer is engaged in trying to understand or bring order to human experience.

Of course there are genre and/or pop books that go quite deep despite their trappings, and there are plenty of literary-labeled stories of struggle and redemption that are no more than potboilers. I don’t think too much about what category I belong to; I’m aspiring to literature all the time, in that I’m more interested in creating something organic and true than perfecting an entertainment. That said, The Interloper is a fairly lean and tight machine—the fact that Owen is pursuing a plan pushed it in that direction, I think. I pared away quite a few thematically-based digressions before the manuscript went out. It didn’t have to do with making it more pop or less literary; I was just staying true to the concerns of the book.

TN: What led you into fiction writing? Was there a particular moment that the light bulb went on, and you thought, "This is what I want to do for a living?"

AW: Who makes a living? Perhaps it would be better to say, “This is what I want to do with my life.” For me it happened somewhere in the middle of college. I had always written, had always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until I decided to quit my job as an EMT and decide not to apply to medical school that I put my chips down, so to speak. I was influenced in this decision by three books (all of which I’m afraid to go back and read now): The New York Trilogy, by Paul Auster; Another Country by James Baldwin; and V. by Thomas Pynchon. I don’t know exactly how those three worked their magic on me, but they did.

TN: You attended the prestigious writer's workshop at the University of Iowa. Could you talk about your experience there? Many aspiring writers today see an MFA as the only logical step after college – are these workshops worth all the hype?

AW: I had a great experience at Iowa. Two years under the umbrella of the academy with no goal other than to write fiction. I’m sure I picked up lots of craft tips, and I know I became a better writer, but I’d say the most valuable lesson I learned was to take myself seriously as a writer. And to begin to take myself seriously as a human being. As far as the hype, well, you know what Public Enemy had to say about that. I don’t mean to be glib. In general I highly recommend MFA programs for people who really want to write—at the very least you become a better reader and a better critic of your own work. I just wouldn’t suggest going into massive debt to attend one.

TN: You occasionally teach writing classes at UCLA. How do you approach the prickly task of teaching others to write, a talent some would say falls under the category of "you either have it or you don't"? Has the experience helped your own writing at all?

AW: I have no idea whether teaching helps my writing. They’re two very different things, and I’m always struggling to bring them together. While it’s probably true that “you either have it or you don’t,” I’m not sure it’s my job to be the judge. I remember my own early stories. They blew chunks. Misguided, immature, poorly developed chunks. So I try to nudge people forward in doing whatever it is they’re trying to do. And while I encounter a lost cause now and then, every once in a while someone blows my socks off, which is always a treat.

AW: Who's the best author we've never heard of?

AW: If you haven’t heard of Thomas Bernhard, it’s Thomas Bernhard. If you have, it’s Bohumil Hrabal. If you’ve heard of him, too, maybe Lars Gustafsson. If all of those are old news, try the stories of Maile Chapman or Jack Livings—neither of them have a book yet, so you probably haven’t read too much of them. If you have, how about Eric Bennett? You’ll have to wait on him, but it will be worth it.

If you want to see some of the raves for Antoine Wilson's new novel "The Interloper," just visit the front page of his website, where they are tastefully laid out.

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