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Read (and Listen to) an Unpublished David Foster Wallace Fragment

Read an unpublished fragment of a story (or novel?)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 If you want to hear it, download it here (it also includes a hilarious reading (also unpublished) about a perfect boy who everyone hates).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)).

William Burroughs Speaks


There are some great downloads available at Naropa University’s Internet Archive, including some lucid-but-still-weird lectures from William Burroughs. We highly recommend Burroughs’s 1979 lecture on creative reading, where he dissects Conrad and Gysin among others, waxes on heroic tropes, and talks about assassins. Also good is a 1980 forum on public discourse (Ginsberg introduces and sticks around). Good stuff.

Waiting for The Visitor

We’re pretty psyched about Jim O’Rourke‘s upcoming album, The Visitor, out on Drag City September 8th. O’Rourke hasn’t put out a “pop” record (as opposed to “experimental,” something of a false dichotomy really) since 2001’s Insignificance. Apparently, the new record is in the vein of one of our all-time favorite records, 1997’s Bad Timing. Supposedly the record will take the form of one long suite of music called “The Visitor,” and according to this interview from last year, “pretty much everyone is going to be disappointed.” He also says that the new record will be “pt. 4” after Bad Timing, Eureka, and Insignificance, so it’s hard to imagine being disappointed. Here’s the (we think) Nic Roeg connection (quick note: the three albums just cited are named after Nic Roeg films): in 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, David Bowie plays a space alien stranded on Earth who records an album under the name The Visitor. Here’s the cover of The Visitor:


Here’s a Eureka-era audio interview with O’Rourke that you can download. He talks about his prolific powers, the influence of Godard and Roeg on his work, hierarchy and didacticism in music, the cheesy sax solo on “Eureka” (“Of course it’s stupid!”), and why listening to music is a process of education. Good stuff. Or, if you want music, not words, here’s the sorta kinda rarity, “Never Again,” from the Chicago 2018 comp. Also good stuff.

“The Old Flame” — Robert Lowell


Listening to Robert Lowell read his poem “The Old Flame” is way better than just reading it yourself. Really.

“The Distance from the Moon” — Italo Calvino

We’re loving this very cool animation of Calvino’s short tale “The Distance from the Moon,” from the collection Cosmicomics. This month’s Harper’s features two funny and thoughtful little fables told by Cosmicomic‘s strange narrator Qfwfq , and if you’re too lazy to buy that, check out The New Yorker‘s recent publication of “The Daughters of the Moon.” Presumably these stories will be published in the upcoming volume Complete Cosmicomics. Stay ahead of the curve by reading them now. Special mp3 bonus: actress Maria Tucci reads from Cosmicomics.

Zora Neale Hurston Sings “You May Go But This Will Bring You Back”


Zora Neale Hurston sings folksong “You May Go But This Will Bring You Back,” and then explains how she learns her songs. More info here.

No Poets Don’t Own Words


No Poets Don’t Own Words” from Brion Gysin’s Recordings 1960-1981. A very cool record, featuring lots of tape manipulation, cut-ups, poetry, and interviews with Gysin on a variety of subjects including censorship, surrealism, and art. We like it much. Much we like. It. Like much it we.

Langston Hughes Reads Three Poems


Renaissance man Langston Hughes reads three of his poems–

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Ballad of the Gypsy


Also, read one of our favorite Hughes poems, “I, Too, Sing America” (a response, we believe, to Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing” (Elizabeth Alexander’s inauguration poem, “Praise Song for the Day” seems to respond to both of these poems))–

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–

I, too, am America.

William S. Burroughs/John Giorno


Look at these guys! I kind of have to have this record. If you have a copy, go ahead and send it to me. No? Okay, what about uploading the tracks somewhere as mp3s? No? Okay…

Image and LP info via Brainwashed.

William S. Burroughs/John Giorno (1975), GPS 006-007

William Burroughs

1. “103rd Street Boys” from Junkie 2. excerpt from Naked Lunch 3. “From Here To Eternity” from Exterminator 4. excerpt from Ah Pook Is Here 5. “The Chief Smiles” from Wild Boys 6. “The Green Nun” 7. excerpt from Cities Of The Red Night

John Giorno 8. “Eating Human Meat”

And so as not to just beg for mp3s but to also give, check out Burroughs explaining how tape manipulation helps to expand conciousness in “Origin and Theory of the Tape,” and get horrified by an example of said technique with “Present Time Exercises,” both from Break Through in Grey Room, a collection of Burroughs’s tape experiments and speeches (not to mention a dash of Ornette Coleman freaking freestyle in Morocco).


Dylan Thomas Reads “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”

a-childs-christmasWhen he wasn’t busy drinking himself to death, Dylan Thomas wrote some pretty awesome poems and stories, and the Welshman had quite the knack for reading them aloud. Check out his sonorous reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” a lovely impressionistic series of vignettes about Useful vs. Useless Presents, ever-present Uncles, eating with the fam, letter-carriers, etc. Good stuff. Fellow Welshman John Cale wrote his own version of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” It’s on his pretty-good record Paris 1919. Merry Xmas!

David Foster Wallace mp3s

Update: Go to the David Foster Wallace Audio Project for DFW audio needs.

What follows are some of the better recordings I’ve collected over the years of DFW reading his work and being interviewed. Links take you to a site where you can download the mp3s. You can find most of these recordings dispersed over the net, but I thought I’d try to collate it all here. If you like what you hear, get a hold of DFW reading his own work in the audiobook version of Consider the Lobster (his handling of footnotes is pretty cool). Enjoy.

David Foster Wallace reads some unpublished stuff. December 6, 2000, Lannan Foundation. The middle section, beginning around 12:50 is particularly fantastic.

John O’Brien interviews DFW. December 6, 2000, Lannan Foundation.

DFW reads “A Series of Remarks on Kafka’s Funniness from Which Not Enough Has Been Removed.” March, 1998. Part of “Metamorphosis: A New Kafka,” a symposium sponsored by the PEN American Center in New York City. Text here. Republished in Consider the Lobster.

Michael Silverblatt interviews DFW about Consider the Lobster on KCRW’s Bookworm show. March 2, 2006.

Michael Goldfarb’s radio interview with DFW for The Connection. June 25, 2004.

Of course, the March 27, 1997 Charlie Rose interview is pretty well known to DFW fans, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth checking out.

Also, if you feel like parsing through The Howling Fantods collection of audio links, I’m sure some of them are still working.