episode 21 – Alex Behr and Planet Grim

Alex Behr joined us to talk about her new collection of short stories, Planet Grim. Alex is funny and open and a tireless creator. We discuss her music life in San Francisco, run-ins with Nirvana, breastfeeding her infant son and other tales of adoption, writing her book through a divorce, and lots more.


episode 20: Ed Skoog reads his poetry, talks about everything

Poet, and cohost of the Lunch Box Podcast, Ed Skoog talks with us about reading and writing poetry, dismantling the patriarchy through bluegrass, the great local poets of Portland, eating gas station boudin, FOMO, describing faces, the likeliest way to get murdered in Russia, and much more.

Listen in. His voice is so so soothing.


episode 19: Amanda Bullock talks Wordstock and books – so many books

It’s Wordstock season in Portland, the time of year when book lovers extrovert for a day, leave the safety of their reading nooks to gather around authors all over the park blocks in downtown Portland. Amanda Bullock, Director of Public Programs at Literary Arts, joined us to talk about what goes into putting on this major holiday for book lovers. We probed for juicy stories of writers behaving badly, talked about stalking chefs, and got the lowdown on all the books we’ll be reading in the coming year. We’ve moved away from the exhaustive list, but here are some of the books Amanda mentioned that have delighted, moved, awed, or otherwise gut punched her in the last little while.

Sing, Unburied, Sing – Jesmyn Ward
Wait Till You See Me Dance – Deb Olin Unferth
The Dark Stories – Samantha Hunt
My Misspent Youth – Meghan Daum
Animals Strike Curious Poses – Elena Passarello
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI – David Grann
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy – Ta-Nehisi Coates
On Immunity: An Inoculation – Eula Biss
Flings: Stories – Justin Taylor
Against Everything: Essays – Mark Greif
The Answers: A Novel – Catherine Lacey
Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel – George Saunders
Everything is Flammable – Gabrielle Bell


episode 18: Andrew Roe dispels the myth of the rich writer

This week, we talked to Andrew Roe, author of the novel, The Miracle Girl, and the short story collection, Where You Live, about day jobs, publishing success not necessarily equating to windfalls of cash, reading authors before and after they hit the big time, and more.

Andrew is the second writer we’ve skyped with mid-move from a bedroom in his in-laws’ house. It’s sort of a trend, right?


episode 17: How do you say Lepucki? (with Jason Gurley)

Hey! We’re back. AND WE ARE RUSTY. Our good friend Jason Gurley joined us to help ease us back into things.

Fair warning: This episode is sloppy as hell, way more so than usual. Every five minutes I’d look over at the monitor where we were recording and see a warning that the destination disk was almost full. I panicked; I let things fall apart.

We’re not doing a whole big blog post for this one. Michelle is away on a writing retreat, and I’m at home parenting for three weeks…who has time for blogging? Or podcasting, even! But hey, we’re planning some new episodes, and we hope they trickle out over the coming months.

And we still don’t know how to pronounce her name. Lepucki. How do you say that?


episode 16: Joshua Mohr: badass in a Subaru

Joshua Mohr has published five novels and a memoir since 2009. That’s a pretty rapid clip, especially since only one — his memoir Sirens, about the deep lure of self-destruction, getting clean, and relapsing — was written under the urgency of impending death (he didn’t die). We had a great conversation about punk songs as the template for writing scenes, connecting with memoir readers on a whole different level from novel readers, and lots more. Josh is a great talker, smart and funny and compassionate. Give him a listen. And then go read his books!

Books we mentioned

Sirens – Joshua Mohr
Cruddy – Lynda Barry
Some Things That Meant the World to Me – Joshua Mohr
All This Life – Joshua Mohr
Fight Song – Joshua Mohr
Damascus – Joshua Mohr
Termite Parade – Joshua Mohr
The Sisters Brothers – Patrick DeWitt
The Adderall Diaries – Stephen Elliott
Grief Is the Thing with Feathers – Max Porter
Moonglow – Michael Chabon
Black Wave – Michelle Tea
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
One Way Down (Or Another) – Calder G. Lorenz
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann
The Stand – Stephen King
The One-Eyed Man – Ron Currie Jr.
Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut


episode 15: Joanna Rose and Stevan Allred and the Pinewood Table

Michelle spent four years at the Pinewood Table, a critique group and Portland institution run by authors Joanna Rose and Stevan Allred. There, she found a writing community and scratched out a couple of hundred pages of a novel. In this episode, we talk to Stevan and Joanna about their talent for close reading, approaching writing with kindness, writing into the sore places, and post-election reading requirements.

To find out more, see The Pinewood Table. And read Stevan and Joanna’s books. They are so beautiful.

Books we mentioned

The Dark Tower Series – Stephen King
The Stand – Stephen King
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series – Louise Penny
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
The Architecture of Happiness – Alain de Botton
The Milagro Beanfield War – John Nichols
The Shipping News – Annie Proulx
Love Medicine – Louise Erdrich
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Hot Season – Susan DeFreitas
The Mind Body Problem – Jonathan Westphal
The Mind Body Problem – Rebecca Goldstein
Why Architecture Matters – Paul Goldberger
Dear Thief – Samantha Harvey
All That Man Is – David Szalay
The Alehouse at the End of the World – Stevan Allred
A Simplified Map of the Real World – Stevan Allred
Little Miss Strange – Joanna Rose


episode 14: Jonathan Russell Clark swims in books

Book critic Jonathan Russell Clark talked with us about the satisfaction he finds in writing criticism, his inspirations and the capriciousness of what hooks him in books. We also talk collecting books (and how they become the most hated objects in the house), unintentional manifestos, handling reader feedback, bridging the gap between older critics and the current literary and digital landscapes, and the way nobody ever takes a book recommendation.

Books we mentioned

It – Stephen King
Dark Tower Series – Stephen King
But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past – Chuck Klosterman
The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
Against the Day – Thomas Pynchon
The Vegetarian – Han Kang
Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams – M.J. Simpson
2666 – Roberto Bolaño
The Savage Detectives – Roberto Bolaño
The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
Fun Home – Alison Bechdel
An Oasis of Horror in a Desert of Boredom – Jonathan Russell Clark
A Book of American Martyrs – Joyce Carol Oates
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Submission – Michel Houellebecq


episode 13: Scott Rogers and the 2016 wrap up

Scott Rogers joined us to talk about books we loved in 2016, books that surprised us, trends we noted and trends we bucked. Isaac talks about his reading couches. We discuss reading resolutions. And we get a great update on what’s happening with Big Ed and Summer America Barnham.

Books we mentioned

The Only Ones – Carola Dibbell
Black Wave – Michelle Tea
The Dark Tower (book five) – Stephen King
Slow Days, Fast Company – Eve Babitz
The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro
The Kingkiller Chronicle (Book 1: The Name of the Wind) – Patrick Rothfuss
A Brief History of Seven Killings – Marlon James
Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
The Gutenberg Elegies – Sven Birkerts
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Jerusalem – Alan Moore
Rising Up and Rising Down – William T. Vollmann
The Folly of Loving Life – Monica Drake
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
What is the What – Dave Eggers
City on Fire – Garth Risk Hallberg
The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
Bats of the Republic – Zachary Thomas Dodson
Satin Island – Tom McCarthy
The Reactive – Masande Ntshanga
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
The Last Samurai – Helen DeWitt
The Sellout – Paul Beatty
The Tsar of Love and Techno – Anthony Marra
Sweetbitter – Stephanie Danler
Between the World and Me -Ta-Nehisi Coates
Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
The Vegetarian – Han Kang
Version Control – Dexter Palmer
Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
Moby Dick – Herman Melville


episode 12: Aisha Sabatini Sloan melds narrative and theory

Happy New Year folks! In December, we talked to Aisha Sabatini Sloan about writing non-fiction, and her new collection, Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit, which was selected by Maggie Nelson as the winner of the 1913 Open Prose Book Contest and is due out this year. Sabatini Sloan writes personal narrative about subjects — family, race, Detroit, the police — and with a voice that are both relevant and affecting. We talk about casually meandering into theory, as you do, and moving away from the safety net of structure.

Books that are mentioned

Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit – Aisha Sabatini Sloan
The Fluency of Light – Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
The Gift – Barbara Browning
I’m Trying to Reach You – Barbara Browning
I Love Dick – Chris Kraus
Chelsea Girls – Eileen Miles
The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson
The Red Parts – Maggie Nelson
Calamities – Renee Gladman
Unexplained Presence – Tisa Bryant
Long Division – Kiese Laymon
How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America – Kiese Layman
Negroland – Margo Jefferson
The Narrow Door – a memoir of friendship – Paul Lisicky
White Girls – Hilton Als
The Water Cure – Percival Everett
I Am Not Sidney Poitier – Percival Everett
Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night – Book by Morgan Parker

Other authors we mentioned

Fanny Howe and Danzy Senna