Lit Century podcast

Lit Century

Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols

Hosts Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols choose one book for each year of the twentieth century (Nella Larsen's Passing, 1936, Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls, 1966; Mohandas Gandhi's Indian Home Rule, 1909) and talk about it in its historical and literary context. Join the hosts and their special guests to find out what the 20th century was all about.

52 Episódios

  • Lit Century podcast

    Love in a Fallen City

    1:12:07

    In this episode, writer and photographer Adalena Kavanagh and editor Jaime Chu join host Catherine Nichols to discuss Eileen Chang's 1943 novel Love In a Fallen City. Set in Shanghai and Hong Kong in the early days of World War II, it centers on Bai Liusu, a beautiful young woman who has divorced her husband and returned to her traditional Chinese family. They consider her spoiled goods and are trying to marry her off to a widower with five children. At the same time, they are trying to match her sister with the highly eligible and rich bachelor Fan Liuyuan; Bai Liusu decides she will have him instead. Adalena Kavanagh is a writer and photographer in New York. Her writing has appeared in Electric Literature and The Believer, among many other publications, and she writes the weekly photography newsletter Mamiyaroid 5.5. Jaime Chu is an editor, critic, and translator from Hong Kong, currently based in Beijing, who is currently a contributing editor at Spike Art Magazine, and a part of Chaoyang Trap, an experimental newsletter about contemporary life in China. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College and used to work in book publishing. Her writing on contemporary art and cultural criticism has appeared in Spike, The Nation, The Baffler, Groove, and Telekom Electronic Beats. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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    Sunday in the Park with George

    1:14:53

    In this episode, musician and editor Rob Weinert-Kendt joins hosts Isaac Butler and Catherine Nichols to discuss the musical "Sunday in the Park with George" with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The play focuses on the painter Georges Seurat and his common-law wife Dot, in the time when he was painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, but in its second act goes to Seurat's great grandson, also an artist, and his personal crisis. The conversation address issues of muses, second acts, artistic isolation and connection, and how the play is inevitably read through the lens of biography, especially in the wake of Sondheim's death. Rob Weinert-Kendt is the editor of American Theatre and a frequent contributor to America magazine. He is also a musician. Here are some of Rob's pieces on "Sunday in the Park with George" and Sondheim: An interview with Sarna Lapine, who directed the 2017 SUNDAY revival: https://www.americantheatre.org/2017/03/21/how-sarna-lapine-makes-sunday-in-the-park-sing/ A preview of the 2008 revival (not on Time Out's site anymore, but hosted on own janky website): http://robkendt.com/Features&News/sundayinpark.htm Thoughts on Sondheim's death https://www.americantheatre.org/2021/11/30/nothing-thats-not-been-said-on-sondheim/ An in-depth interview with him from 10 years ago https://www.americantheatre.org/2011/04/01/stephen-sondheim-playwright-in-song/ Then two from Isaac: https://slate.com/culture/2021/11/stephen-sondheim-dead-obituary-career-west-side-story.html https://slate.com/podcasts/culture-gabfest/2021/12/review-spencer-yellowjackets-stephen-sondheim Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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    Pitchin' Man: Satchel Paige's Own Story

    54:13

    In this episode, writer Luke Epplin joins host Catherine Nichols to discuss Leroy "Satchel" Paige's 1948 memoir Pitchin' Man: Satchel Paige's Own Story, written with sportswriter Hal Lebovitz. Paige was a baseball legend and an important figure in the early integration of baseball. He was one of the greatest athletes of his time, but his stardom was also the product of a genius for self-promotion. In the 1940s, this involved cultivating a comical, unthreatening persona that made white audiences comfortable. His memoir tells the story of his life through that persona, turning his career in Black baseball into a series of comical picaresque adventures. This pose would later be condemned by younger Black players. Luke Epplin is the author of Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball, about the integration of baseball, and specifically the Cleveland Indians, in the 1940s. His other writing has appeared online in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, GQ, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and The Paris Review Daily. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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    The Hound of the Baskervilles

    1:03:19

    In this episode writers Alex Higley and Willie Fitzgerald join host Catherine Nichols to talk about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1901 novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. The conversation includes discussion of how the figure of Watson is used as a magnifying frame for Holmes's genius and the lasting influence of that narrative device; the overwhelming influence Conan Doyle and Holmes had on the development of the mystery genre, and how this was first Holmes story Doyle wrote after eight years away from the character, of whom he had grown tired. Alex Higley is the author of the short story collection Cardinal and the novel Old Open. He is also co-host (with Lindsay Hunter) of the podcast "I'm a Writer But." Willie Fitzgerald is currently the Mari Sabusawa Editorial Fellow at American Short Fiction. His work has appeared in Hobart, Poor Claudia, City Arts, Keep This Bag Away From Children and elsewhere. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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    Civilization and Its Discontents

    52:11

    Writer Jessica Gross joins host Catherine Nichols to discuss Freud's 1930 book Civilization and Its Discontents, in which Freud writes about the difficulty of living as an individual in society, and the ways in which society demands we repress our nature and our desires. How has psychoanalysis, and Freud's theories in particular, changed the way we see ourselves and tell our stories? Is the price we pay for living in a society too high, especially when that price includes world wars? Jessica Gross is the author of the novel Hysteria, about a young woman's relationship with Freud. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the Yiddish Book Center and the 14th Street Y in New York. Jessica earned her MFA in fiction from The New School, where she also taught courses in fiction and nonfiction writing. She currently teaches creative writing at Texas Tech University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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    Tetris

    46:07

    In this episode, video game designer Tracy Rae Bowling (The Fight) joins host Catherine Nichols to discuss the history and impact of the 1984 game Tetris—its place in the history of video games, the cultural impact on the late 20th century, and why it's not as popular as it used to be. Tracy Rae Bowling is a writer and video game designer. Their games include The Fight, available to play on itch.io, and The Color of the Moon, in development. Tracy also hosts Gift Horse, a comedy podcast about gift-giving with their husband, Mike Meginnis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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    Mock Orange and Louise Gluck

    58:40

    In this episode, guest K. Austin Collins joins hosts Elisa Gabbert and Catherine Nichols to talk about Louise Gluck's 1985 poem "Mock Orange" and through it, her work in general. Some topics are the unfashionable somberness and simplicity of Gluck's work, Gluck's extraordinary personal letter to her friend Brenda Hillman, and Gluck's near-fatal anorexia. Also discussed is Gabbert's recent review of Gluck's most recent collection in the New York Times. K. Austin Collins is a film critic for Rolling Stone, and formerly film critic for Vanity Fair and The Ringer. He was also the host of the film podcast Flashback for Slate. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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    Strangers on a Train

    53:04

    In this episode, writers Mike Meginnis and David Burr Gerrard join host Catherine Nichols to discuss Patricia Highsmith's 1950 novel Strangers on a Train. In the novel, two characters, Guy and Bruno, meet on a train; each have someone they would like to see murdered. Bruno offers to kill Guy's estranged wife, Miriam, in exchange for Guy killing Bruno's father. Guy doesn't agree, but Bruno kills Miriam anyway, and then expects to be paid back in murder. The conversation touches on the homoeroticism in the novel, how it deals with blurred identity, and how it expresses Highsmith's identification with monsters. Mike Meginnis is the author of the forthcoming Drowning Practice (2022, Ecco) and Fat Man and Little Boy (2014, Black Balloon). His short fiction and essays have appeared in Hobart, PANK, The Lifted Brow, Recommended Reading, Booth, The Pinch, The Collagist, The Sycamore Review, Fanzine, American Book Review, and Writer's Digest. His story "Navigators" appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012. He lives and works in Iowa City. David Burr Gerrard is the author of THE EPIPHANY MACHINE (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017) and SHORT CENTURY (Rare Bird, 2014). He teaches creative writing at the 92nd Street Y, The New School, The Yale Writers’ Workshop, Catapult, and the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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    The Sound Tape

    1:25:28

    In this episode, writers Alex Higley and Willie Fitzgerald join host Catherine Nichols to discuss three short stories by Wright Morris: "The Sound Tape," "The Character of the Lover," and "The Cat in the Picture." Higley, who brought the stories to Lit Century, talks about how he discovered Morris's writing through his photographs and photo-texts. The group also talks about Morris's detached, bemused voice, that sometimes tips over into confusion or joy, and the way his stories cheat the reader of conclusive meaning and leave them in a place of mystery. Alex Higley is the author of the short story collection Cardinal and the novel Old Open. Willie Fitzgerald is currently the Mari Sabusawa Editorial Fellow at American Short Fiction. His work has appeared in Hobart, Poor Claudia, City Arts, Keep This Bag Away From Children and elsewhere. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • Lit Century podcast

    The Great Gatsby

    58:28

    In this episode, hosts Catherine Nichols and Sandra Newman talk about F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby. Why is modernity (and the swimming pool) always deadly in twentieth century fiction? Where and how did Fitzgerald lose control of his material? Would it be a different book if Fitzgerald had chosen a different narrator? And most of all: why is this book so commonly seen as the great American novel? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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