This week’s podcast recommendations involve flappers, fiction and fate. Enjoy!
A few years ago, The New Yorker’s Ariel Levy gave one of the best interviews on Longform, running through how she got her start writing, being nervous interviewing people, how she landed at the New Yorker and her incredible personal essay ‘Thanksgiving in Mongolia’. This week I was thrilled to see Levy was back on Longform to discuss her new memoir, ‘The Rules Do Not Apply’, which builds on the aforementioned essay and deals with marriage, infidelity and, how Ariel describes it in this podcast, how ‘no one gets everything’. She talks about the memoir and miscarriage but also about how she’s grateful for her life, how she’s marrying Dr John – the South African doctor who helped her in Mongolia – and about her next article on using dead bodies for compost. Ariel Levy, always riveting.
Yes, more Didion! As mentioned last week, I’ve been reading The White Album (and I have never wanted to visit California more). This conversation with David L Ulin, book critic for the Los Angeles Times, is one of the Didion interviews I’ve downloaded and I loved it, mostly because she reads from The White Album (“We tell ourselves stories in order to live” is forever tattooed on my brain, especially after hearing Didion read it aloud) and talks about the loss of Quintana in ‘Blue Nights’ and says her advice for young writers is ‘don’t be afraid to rewrite’.
As mentioned last week, I’ve just gotten into storytelling-style podcasts (thank you You Must Remember This) and this week I’ve dipped my toes into an audio history lesson called The History Chicks. Running at 1:43, it’s possibly the longest podcast I’ve listened to but you can’t fault the writers for detail. I chose the Zelda Fitzgerald episode because I’ve been obsessed with her since I serendipitously picked up ‘The Beautiful and Damned’ at college aged 19. Remembered mostly as a flapper, a distraction to a writing genius or as plain insane, I have always felt that Zelda was misunderstood and I greeted adaptations of her life, including Christina Ricci’s ‘Z: The Beginning of Everything’ and Jennifer Lawrence’s upcoming biopic, with dread. Once I was on a tour around Lower Manhattan and the guide made several disparaging remarks about ‘crazy Zelda’ until I finally snapped at him. So yeah, you could say I feel strongly about her. Over the years I’ve read everything I can about Zelda and, although I didn’t really pick up anything new, this podcast was a great refresher about her life, from growing up as a contemporary of Tallulah Bankhead in Montgomery, Alabama to her heady Jazz Age days with Scott.
Wait…Teri Hatcher? That Teri Hatcher? Well, yes. In this episode of Live Talks Los Angeles, Desperate Housewives actress Hatcher sits down in front of a live audience with author Stephanie Danler to discuss her acclaimed debut novel ‘Sweetbitter’. As I said on Instagram I avoided reading Sweetbitter last year ‘cos I still have waitressing nightmares (mine’s about forgetting an order and I’m the only waitress in a full restaurant – yours?) but when I picked it up earlier this year, it consumed me and I still think about it – Tess, being 23, falling for assholes and mostly Sweetbitter’s prose. In this interview Danler talks about falling in love with the restaurant business, whether Sweetbitter is autobiographical (it isn’t), the terrifying move from her burgeoning restaurant career back into writing school and being a 13 year old reading Sylvia Plath’s poems and thinking ‘I can do this’. We’ve all been that 13 year old. Also, ‘sexy bookclub’ is a thing – thanks Teri Hatcher!