I like Brad Listi. He writes books, runs a online culture magazine, helps to make babies and is now the man behind a cracking new literary podcast.
I have asked him some questions.
SP: So, Brad, tell me about this new podcast of yours?
BL: It's called Other People. It's a twice-weekly, hour-long author interview show, available for free at iTunes or at Stitcher. It's me, talking to another author at length but the difference is that the main focus tends to be the author himself or herself, rather than the books. Which is to say: it's not a lit-crit show. There's not a lot of plot synopsis or quiet, intellectual discussion. It's more unruly than that. It's about the authors as human beings, in all of their messy glory.
SP: You describe the interviews as 'in-depth' and 'inappropriate'. How inappropriate? Do you say 'fuck' and 'shit' alot?
BL: Constantly. As much as possible.
SP: And do you ask questions about their sexual proclivities? Make romantic advances towards them?
BL: (Laughs.) I'm a married man, so I don't make any romantic advances. But I do ask plenty of sex questions for sure, particularly when I have guests like Jillian Lauren and Melissa Febos, both of whom have done sex work in the past and have written brilliant memoirs about the experience. When its germane to the author's life, or if it happens to come up naturally in conversation, I'm happy to go there. Sex is a big part of life. And people like to hear about it.
SP: What splendid authors have been your guests so far?
BL: Oh, man. I've had a ton of really great writers on the show. Jillian and Melissa, to name two. Dennis Cooper was just on. And David Shields, who wrote Reality Hunger; I just talked to him. He's a fascinating guy and a really interesting writer. Darin Strauss was great; he wrote Half a Life, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award here in the States. Jonathan Evison, Megan Boyle, Greg Olear, John Warner, Jessica Any Blau, Adam Levin, Shann Ray, Gina Frangello, Katie Arnoldi, Janet Reitman, Elissa Schappell. So many. The list goes on.
SP: And who do you have lined up?
BL: Well, in the short term I'm going to be talking with folks like Dana Spiotta, Jamal Joseph, Vanessa Veselka, Tayari Jones, Roxane Gay, D.R. Haney, and Alan Heathcock, just to name a few. A lot of good ones coming up.
SP: Dream guest?
BL: Gore Vidal in top form.
SP: Are you prepared to interview British authors?
BL: Hell yes.
SP: And if any publicists representing the superstars of international literature are reading this how would they go about getting their authors on your show?
BL: Just email me: letters [at] otherpeoplepod [dot] com.
SP: Do you remember writing a book called Attention. Deficit. Disorder? If so, please tell us about it.
BL: (Laughs.) I have vague recollections. Attention. Deficit. Disorder. is a novel I wrote in my twenties. It's about a young man coming to grips with the suicide death of an ex-girlfriend. A picaresque. A contemporary coming of age novel set against the backdrop of the information age. And the narrator, I should mention, is of average intelligence. That was important to me, to try and do that. To render him as utterly confused, and searching. Too many young narrators are wise beyond their years.
SP: And how much better is the UK cover than your American one?
BL: Loads better, I must say. The rubber cover in particular, on that limited edition hardback, is the ultimate favorite. A collector's item!
SP: What next, my good man?
BL: Well, I'm working on a new novel, when I can get to it. And I'm extremely busy with a one-year-old daughter. And with running The Nervous Breakdown, my online culture magazine and literary community. And the podcast as well. It's chaos. So hopefully I can keep it all going, while also managing to get some sleep here and there.
SP: Finally, can you recommend my readers a good book?
BL: I can't stop talking about Leaving the Atocha Station , by Ben Lerner. It's a short novel about a drug-addled American Fulbright poet living in Madrid. A superb book. And then another one is Nothing , by Blake Butler, which is about insomnia, among other things. And then there's Not that You Asked , an essay collection by Steve Almond, who is an incredibly funny and perceptive writer who deserves to have a massive readership. Any one of those three, and you're in good shape.
BRAD LISTI is the founder of The Nervous Breakdown, an online culture magazine and literary community that now includes TNB Books, an independent press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. He is the author of a novel called Attention. Deficit. Disorder., a Los Angeles Times bestseller, the executive producer of The Nervous Breakdown's podcast series, and the host of Other People with Brad Listi, a twice-weekly podcast featuring in-depth, inappropriate interviews with today's leading authors. To learn more, please visit www.bradlisti.com.