Gordon Lish on Beckett’s Boils and Other Matters of Literary Import

Hey. Do yourself a favor and listen to Iambik’s first podcast, a raucous, rambling conversation with legendary editor/short story author Gordon Lish. I finally got around to listening to the discussion between Lish and his publisher John Oakes. (Why the delay? I’ve been listening to and very much enjoying another Iambik recording, an audiobook of Lydia Millet’s Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, and I needed to get to a decent stopping place before the Lish (review of the Millet forthcoming)) . I had already listened to Lish reading a selection of his own stories which was nine kinds of awesome (thanks again to the good folks at Iambik, whose hooking me up with the sweet mp3age has in no way affected my fondness for their operation (review of the Lish selections forthcoming)).

Hearing Lish in this conversational, easy manner is revelatory. Wise and funny, erudite and crafty, you’ll learn something and be entertained:

Iambikcast #1a (mp3)
Iambikcast #1b (mp3)

What does he talk about? I’ll crib from Iambikist Miette’s write-up, which hardly sums it up but does a nice job of surveying the discussion–

In the first part of the conversation, Lish covers Beckett’s boils and other afflictions of our literary heroes, remembrances of Neal Cassady, and the writer as witch doctor.

The second part focuses on Lish’s (as always, uncensored) assertions on the state of contemporary American letters, in which we’re imparted with opinions on Allen Ginsberg and Philip Roth, achieving religious experience through DeLillo, the finer points of book blurbing, and encouraging the further crimes of Tao Lin.

Read (and Listen to) an Unpublished David Foster Wallace Fragment

Read an unpublished fragment of a story (or novel?) by David Foster Wallace at  454 W 23rd St New York, NY 10011-2157 (uh, that’s a blog, not, like, an actual physical address (although I guess it could be an actual physical address to. But, you don’t have to go there to read the story. Just click on the link. You know how the internet works, don’t you?)). Not sure who actually transcribed the piece (maybe the folks at 454?), but die-hard DFW fans will likely have heard the author read it himself. If you want to hear it, download it here (it also includes a hilarious reading (also unpublished) about a perfect boy who everyone hates). Here’s the first paragraph of the audio transcription–

Every whole person has ambitions, projects, objectives. This particular boy’s objective was to press his lips to every square inch of his own body. His arms to the shoulders and most of the legs beneath the knee were child’s play but after these areas of his body, the difficulty increased with the abruptness of a coastal shelf. The boy came to understand that unimaginable challenges lay ahead of him. He was six.

Hear James Ellroy Read from His New Memoir, The Hilliker Curse

Listen to James Ellroy read from his new memoir, The Hilliker Curse (audio clip courtesy Random House Audio).

William Faulkner’s UVA Lectures Now Available Online

Faulkner at UVA, 1957

In 1957 and 1958, William Faulkner served as the first writer-in residence at the University of Virginia at Arlington. Under the direction of English Professor Stephen Railton, UVA has now put the audio archive online, making it available to the public for the first time. There are dozens of lectures here, as well as many readings from Faulkner’s essays and fiction, including a reading from The Sound and the Fury. Cool stuff. For more about Faulkner’s time at UVA, read the university’s Magazine article, “Faulkner among the ‘Snobs’.”

David Foster Wallace Audio Archive Now Up

A kindly dude by the name of Ryan Walsh has launched a site called The David Foster Wallace Archive. The site collects in one place the loose mp3s that’ve been floating around the web, and includes the Brief Interviews with Hideous Men audiobook in its entirety. There are also interviews, profiles, eulogies, and more. A good starting place: an (as-yet) unpublished piece about a do-gooding boy detested by all. It’s hilarious.

So. It’s kinda sorta Book Covers Week at Biblioklept, and, in keeping with that theme, check out this new cover for Wallace’s debut novel, The Broom of the System. The edition is part of the forthcoming Penguin Ink series and should be available this summer. Art by Duke Riley. We love it.

David Foster Wallace Reads “A Radically Condensed History of Postindustrial Life”

The audiobook of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men came out almost a year after its author, David Foster Wallace killed himself, which kinda sorta makes it strange to hear his voice read some of these tales. Here’s Wallace reading “A Radically Condensed History of Postindustrial Life,” a short short short story. As far as audiobooks goes, this collection is fantastic. There’s a great cast here, and the actors, including Bobby Canavale, Will Forte, Christopher Meloni, John Krasinski (who adapted the book into a film which I’ve, despite having had a pirate copy for several months, been too afraid to watch) intuit Wallace’s work and communicate its humor, pathos, and subtlety. The biggest treat though is hearing Wallace’s voice again.

All Known Zora Neale Hurston WPA Recordings

Check out this tidy collection of all known Zora Neale Hurston audio recordings from the 1930s, when the writer put her anthropology degree to work collecting Florida folklore as part of the Works Progress Administration. (We recommend “Tampa” for some good puerile fun (Tampans may be unamused)).