The Lit Show show

The Lit Show

Summary: The Lit Show is a weekly literary radio show based at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and broadcast on KRUI Radio in Iowa City. Founded in January 2010 by host Joe Fassler, The Lit Show features interviews with writers, readings and performance, reviews, and literary news. The program airs Wednesdays at 3 PM CST on KRUI Radio and There are many ways to listen to The Lit Show: by radio or web broadcast through KRUI, by podcast, and by visiting our archives.


 #101: Ryan Berg | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 24:43

Ryan Berg discusses No House to Call My House: Love, Family, and Other Transgressions, his book about LGBTQ youth in New York City Homeless Shelters.

 #100: Celeste Ng | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 26:23

On this Lit Show, Celeste Ng discusses her novel Everything I Never Told You--a deftly-navigated examination of the permutations a family can take, and the unspoken histories that can define a family’s future. Everything I Never Told You is a New York Times bestseller and has been named a best book of the year by numerous outlets. Celeste Ng grew up in a family of scientists in the Midwest. She received an MFA from the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared in OneStory, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, and the Kenyon Review Online. She has also won a Pushcart Prize. Ng lives in Massachusetts.

 #99: Steven Pinker | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 21:51

Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker on 21st-century grammar, why Strunk and White is obsolete, and the need for a style manual for the future.

 #97: Leslie Jamison | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 35:47

Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams, discusses her new essay collection. Interview by Gemma de Choisy.

 #96: David Lazar | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 45:04

David Lazar, author of Occasional Desire, discusses his nonfiction and transgeneric work. Interview by Gemma de Choisy.

 #95: Book Country | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 56:57

This episode features Brandi Larsen, Director of Book Country, a website run by the publisher Penguin Random House. Book Country is an online community where writers connect, workshop, and publish original work. Imagine a LinkedIn for publishing-minded people: alongside credentials and publication credits, writers can read and critique one another’s works-in-progress. Book Country also helps writers with the publication process, with a free service that makes a finished manuscript available through all the major e-retailers, or paid services that include proofreading, formatting, and cover design. Finally, the site helps book professionals discover new voices: on Book Country, agents and editors look for promising manuscripts to publish traditionally. Self-published E-books have become a big business, as anyone who’s heard of Fifty Shades of Grey knows. This hour, we talk about self-publishing, Book Country’s place in the e-book landscape, and what the site's growth might mean for readers and writers.

 #94: Andre Dubus III | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:14:28

Andre Dubus discusses his collection of long stories, Dirty Love, with Joe Fassler.

 #92: Don Waters | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 57:16

( On this episode of the Lit Show R. Clifton Spargo speaks to Don Waters, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Arts Fellow, about his debut novel Sunland. Waters is also the author of the story collection Desert Gothic, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Award.  His short fiction has been awarded a Pushcart Prize and anthologized in Best of the West and New Stories from the Southwest.  A frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, he’s written for the New York Times Book Review, The Believer, Slate, and Outside.  The hero of Sunland, Sid Dulaney, is a thirty-something drifter on a mission to care for a sickly grandmother, his only real family, but Sid finds himself acting as a small-time drug mule to keep up with her retirement expenses.  Though he runs mostly prescription meds and a few opiates from pharmacies in Nogales across the border and sells them to American retirees, he fears he’s in too deep and tries to hand off the business to a friend.  Thereafter the fatalistic combination of misfortune, misguided advice from friends, and some well-timed coercion from a few cartel-connected types catches him up in a haphazard human trafficking scheme.  The ensuing misadventures expose the often absurdist politics presiding over the borderlands between the Southwest United States and Mexico.  Robert Boswell calls Sunland “a seriously comic novel about the expense of good intentions in the twenty-first century.” Complete Episode

 #90: Phillip Lopate | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 49:01

Phillip Lopate discusses new work, including PORTRAIT INSIDE MY HEAD, with Gemma de Choisy.

 #89: Natalie Brown | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 48:36

Author Natalie Brown discusses her novel The Lovebird in an interview with Gemma de Choisy.

 #88: Geoffrey G. O’Brien | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:20

A discussion with poet Geoffrey G. O'Brien, author of People on Sunday. Interview by Alex Walton.

 #87: Bennett Sims | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 42:35

( this Lit Show, Bennett Sims discusses his debut novel, A Questionable Shape. Set in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, A Questionable Shape rejects the splatter and kitsch of typical genre fare in favor of meditations on the nature of consciousness and loss. It’s a zombie novel where the zombies appear only at a distance and pose little danger to Mazoch and Vermaelen, two friends who drive around the city every day, searching for an undead father and waiting for the coming hurricane to hit. With nods to Hamlet and Orpheus (not to mention Tarkovsky and Wittgenstein), Sims’s novel is a learned debut informed not just by erudition, but by nature, desire, and the persistence of memory. Wells Tower writes: “Bennett Sims is a writer fearsomely equipped with an intellectual and linguistic range to rival a young Nabokov's, Nicholson Baker's gift for miniaturistic intaglio, and an arsenal of virtuosities entirely his own. A Questionable Shape announces a literary talent of genre-wrecking brilliance.” Sims’s fiction has appeared in A Public Space, Tin House, and Zoetrope: All-Story. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he currently teaches at the University of Iowa, where he is the Provost Postgraduate Visiting Writer in fiction. Complete Episode

 #86: R. Clifton Spargo | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 57:51

On this episode, Deborah Kennedy interviews R. Clifton Spargo, author of Beautiful Fools: The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. The book delves deeply into the final moments of one of America’s most storied couples as they take a last trip together to Cuba in 1939. At this pivotal time in world history, Scott and Zelda are experiencing internal wars of their own and what begins as a vacation ends.

 #85: Lucas Mann | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 48:22

Stepping up to the plate on this episode of The Lit Show is Lucas Mann with his acclaimed debut, Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere. Mann’s book chronicles a year in the life of a minor league baseball team in Clinton, Iowa. Beyond the lives of the LumberKings themselves, Mann investigates the dedicated fans, family members, radio announcer, mascot, and the town itself as seen through the eyes of a transplant who keeps finding himself drawn back to the game, whether at Yankee Stadium or in Clinton’s Depression-era field by the Mississippi River.

 #84: Elizabeth Strout | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:14

On this Lit Show, Susannah Shive interviews award-winning author Elizabeth Strout. Strout is the author of the novels Amy and Isabelle and Abide with Me, the short-story collection Olive Kitteridge, and the forthcoming novel The Burgess Boys. Her education includes degrees in English and law as well as a class in stand-up comedy, which she undertook as a response to writer’s block. She lives in Maine and New York City and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina. Olive Kitteridge won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction; The New Yorker wrote in its review that Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force.”


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