• Meg Wolitzer. Photo: Nina Subin
    April 11, 2018

    Bookforum talks to Meg Wolitzer

    Meg Wolitzer’s new novel, The Female Persuasion, tells the story of Greer, a young college-aged woman, and her famous feminist mentor, Faith Frank. Through the book, Wolitzer explores both second-wave feminism and a younger generation’s responses to it. Along with the novel’s explicit political focus is the story of a life-altering female friendship. Through this relationship, Wolitzer observes the changing conditions of her characters’ lives in the context of feminism and misogyny—something she had been thinking about long before Trump and Weinstein. Wolitzer and I discussed the book this

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  • March 16, 2018

    Bookforum talks to Jenn Pelly

    “The Raincoats were a group of women who were, in part, just learning to play their instruments, but their debut album also coincides with the start of a whole artistic sensibility, one of fearless and knowing amateurism,” Pitchfork contributing editor Jenn Pelly writes in her recent book about the origins of the Raincoats, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 music writing series.

    The band—which in 1979 meant Ana da Silva (guitar), Gina Birch (bass), Vicki Aspinall (violin), Palmolive (drums), and Shirley O’Loughlin (manager and collaborator)—pursued uninhibited expression through imperfect post-punk

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  • January 25, 2018

    Bookforum talks to Mathieu Lindon

    The human capacity for love is vast and open, yet the word love is often limited: it’s the feeling between people with shared DNA, or the volatile emotion of romance. Mathieu Lindon has experienced life-altering forms of love that defy these categories. In his recently-translated book, Learning What Love Means, Lindon explores the many sides of love by writing about three very different men: His father, Jérôme Lindon, who was the publisher of the iconic French publishing house, Les Éditions de Minuit; Mathieu’s close friend and mentor, Michel Foucault; and the writer Hervé Guibert. An intimate

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  • October 31, 2017

    Malcolm Harris in conversation with Tony Tulathimutte

    I met author Tony Tulathimutte at a reading in Manhattan where he asked the audience to vote on which section of his novel Private Citizens to read from: the one on writer’s workshops or the one on pornography. Porn won, and Tony delivered a complex, funny, and disturbing passage about Will, one of the book’s protagonists, a desperate, recent college graduate. Later, when I saw his blurb recommending Malcolm Harris’s new study, Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials, I read the book and was impressed by its sweeping socio-economic critique. As the pub date for Kids These

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  • Andrew Durbin
    October 17, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Andrew Durbin

    Over the past few years, I’ve heard Andrew Durbin read a handful of times from material that would comprise his debut novel, MacArthur Park. Blushing, he’d rush through the reading, his anxious timbre at odds with the confidently intelligent voice of his prose. Named for Donna Summer’s 1978 hit song, the novel is a series of snapshots, a scrapbook of scenes following a voyeuristic narrator, Nick (who, like Durbin, is a writer—a poet, obsessed with death, distracted by sex—and a lover of contemporary art) as he travels to dance clubs in Brooklyn, an artists’ residency upstate, the Tom of Finland

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  • September 13, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Lucy Ives

    Lucy Ives was supposed to be writing her dissertation when Stella Krakus, the main character in Ives’s debut novel, Impossible Views of the World, came into her mind. It would take six years for Stella to fully emerge, but when she did, she brought an unlikely triumvirate of irrepressible qualities: a nerd’s expertise in maps and early Americana, a kooky and misanthropic sense of self, and a gimlet eye for the art world in which she seems surprised to have found herself. Stella is a curator at the fictional Central Museum of Art in Manhattan, and when one of her colleagues disappears, she

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  • Albert Mobilio
    August 28, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Albert Mobilio

    From the story of a race with no finish line to the story of a hunt for a used slipper, the mischievous, ludic distortions of Albert Mobilio’s Games & Stunts are like images in a funhouse mirror reflecting both gaming culture and culture at large. “This is the way of the world,” squawks one narrator, parroting a shopworn mantra whose Trumpian tang tastes extra bitter these days, “all against all, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” But Mobilio’s sardonic literary gloss on competition defies Manichean simplicities. You can’t easily win a race when there’s no finish line.


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  • Rachel Khong
    August 09, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Rachel Khong

    Rachel Khong’s debut novel, Goodbye, Vitamin, begins after the narrator, Ruth, has been suddenly and inexplicably dumped by her fiancé. Alone and adrift in San Francisco, a city that she has little connection to outside the failed relationship, she decides to cut her losses and move home to help her family cope with her father’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The landscape and history of Southern California drives the diary-like narrative of Ruth’s return to the Inland Empire. Jarred by the unexpected breakup and her father’s increasingly erratic behavior, Ruth spends much of her time wryly

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  • July 19, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Quinn Latimer

    In the pages of her recent chimeric collection, Like A Woman, poet and critic Quinn Latimer offers essays, poems, lists, and missives penned since 2010. The result is a critical memoir interleaved with texts on a pantheon of women artists and writers including Etel Adnan, Chantal Akerman, Hannah Arendt, Ingeborg Bachmann, Marguerite Duras, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Susan Sontag, Virginia Woolf, and the writer’s mother, Blake Latimer. Together, these contributions reflect on (and demonstrate) critical lineage and influence, just as they consider the boons and failings of feminisms. Along the way,

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  • June 06, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Sunaura Taylor

    A few years ago, while Sunaura Taylor was researching her new book, Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation, she came across the story of a fox who was born with the same disability that Taylor has—arthrogryposis, a contracture of the joints. A hunter saw the fox and shot it, in what he called a “mercy killing.” But by all indications, the fox was healthy and surviving well. “The concept of a mercy killing carries within it two of the most prominent responses to disability: destruction and pity,” Taylor writes.

    The anecdote tidily encapsulates Taylor’s domain: the overlap between

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  • Durga Chew-Bose. Photo by Carrie Cheek.
    April 13, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Durga Chew-Bose

    “Should I try to change my pitch?” Durga wonders, in consideration of her natural speaking voice, in an essay called “Upspeak.” “Should I try to sound more staid?” She asks her father how she could learn to speak differently. Easy, he replies: “Stop reacting to everything.” But then there would be no book for an essay called “Upspeak” to be in, and happily there is a book, Too Much and Not the Mood, a first collection of fourteen prose pieces in which Durga reacts to, and is acted upon by, the whole of quotidian life, sussing out the unobvious in sentences often as pixely and coruscating, as

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  • March 23, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Melissa Febos

    In the early essays of Melissa Febos's Abandon Me, we watch her build a relationship with a bedazzling lover as she mines her past for the stories that made her the person she is—from an exploration of hickeys to a taxonomy of the gifts she receives from her lover, which are "beautiful and a little gruesome." The essays build into an interrogation of relationships, idolization, and how the author's past intertwines with cultural history. Though the book explores bonds that Febos has with others—lovers, friends, lost and found family members—the relationship it ultimately depicts is the one that

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