This week our guest Nadja Spiegleman takes us deep into her family history. Be warned; her revelations are sure to spark some of your own. Nadja’s memoir, “I’m Supposed To Protect You From All This” is a riveting examination of the interconnected nature and […]
Listen to Christopher Bollen on the pod here. I’m so excited for this week because I’ve wanted to interview Chris Bollen ever since her was my boss at Interview Magazine where her was editor-in-chief for many years. This is how I described his new book in Esquire… Ever wanted […]
Listen to Affinity Konar HERE. This week Affinity Konar and I discuss her harrowing debut novel Mischling, drawn from the tragedy of Auschwitz and Josef Mengele’s experiments on identical twins during World War II. The twins Stasha and Pearl are part of the experimental population of twins […]
Listen to Courtney Sullivan HERE.
I’ve been waiting years to have Courtney on the show and her new book finally gave me the chance! We discuss J. Courtney Sullivan’s fourth novel “Saints for All Occasions” about two sisters who leave their small Irish village to make a new life in America. Very early into their new lives in Boston each is forced to make a difficult decision that will impact their lives and divide loyalties. This is such a fun discussion about family secrets and family bonds, and about the time Courtney spent a week at a silent nunnery.
Listen to Samantha Irby HERE. Samantha Irby amassed a cult following with her Bitches Gotta Eat blog and then she wowed her fans with her hilarious and brutally honest memoir, Meaty, which is in TV development by Jessi Klein, head writer for Inside Amy Schumer, and Broad […]
Episode 104: Lidia Yuknavitch on the Future of Our Planet, the Mythology of Joan of Arc & Smashing the Patriarchy
Listen to Lidia Yuknavitch HERE. I’ve been waiting two years for Lidia Yuknavitch to return to the pod. We had one of the most illuminating conversations about her novel The Small Backs of Children and her memoir the Chronology of Water, and again we waste no time […]
This week writer Dani Shapiro joined me to talk about her recent memoir Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, an exquisite and intimate interrogation of her 18-year marriage to “M.” The conversation ranges from the wonderful advice given by her aunt to what happened when she Googled herself. We discuss those chance meetings that change your life, the challenge (and beauty) of committing to a creative life, and how love, ultimately, is what sustains us. Take a listen and you’ll soon see why Dani is celebrated across the globe. I loved this conversation so much. Dani’s books are the kind that you savor, reread, and buy for your very best friends.
Buy Hourglass here.
Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, The New York Times Book Review, the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and has been broadcast on “This American Life”. Dani was recently Oprah Winfrey’s guest on”Super Soul Sunday.” She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, The New School and Wesleyan University; she is co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. A contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler, Dani lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Her most recent book, Hourglass, was just published by Knopf.
Pom Klementieff arrives at our meeting on New York’s Upper West Side clutching a dog-eared copy of Hanya Yanagihara‘s haunting novel A Little Life. “It’s beautiful and brutal,” says the 31-year-old actress with a sigh. “I guess I’m drawn to complicated stories.” The daughter of […]
I wrote this for Elle! The Full Frontal host discussed Trump’s damaging use of language with journalist Masha Gessen at the PEN World Voices Festival. “Waking up every morning is like having a tennis ball machine and having the tennis balls shoot us in the […]
Listen to Jo Piazza HERE.
In Jo Piazza’s new book “How to be Married” she travels the globe in search of answers because she’s been married a year and seems to be getting it (just a little bit) wrong. So why not ask people who’ve been married for decades, and living in different cultures, for their advice and relationship philosophies? Who does she ask? Polygamous warrior women in Kenya, classy French ladies (who advised her to act like their husband’s mistress), Chilean dancers, Orthodox Jewish women in Jerusalem, and more. Jo is one of the most radiant and special people I’ve had on the pod and I know you;ll be able to hear in this episode. #dreamguest!
Buy How to be Married HERE.
Jo Piazza is an award-winning journalist, editor, digital content strategist and author. Her latest book, How to be Married will be released by Penguin Random House in April 2017. Her novel, The Knockoff, became an instant international bestseller in May 2015 and has been translated into 13 languages.
She has written and reported for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, the New York Times, New York, Glamour, CNN, Elle, Marie Claire and Slate. Jo regularly appears as a commentator on NPR, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Her nonfiction book about progressive American nuns, If Nuns Ruled the World, was released to critical acclaim in September of 2014. The New York Times columnist Nick Kristof wrote about it in the Sunday Times: “In an age of villainy, war and inequality, it makes sense that we need superheroes. And after trying Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, we may have found the best superheroes yet: Nuns.” She is also the author of the highly acclaimed Celebrity Inc.: How Famous People Make Money, an economic case study of the Hollywood Industrial Complex and the novel Love Rehab.
Jo holds an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, a Masters in Journalism from Columbia University and a Masters in Religious Studies from New York University. She lives in San Francisco with her giant dog and her husband.
Listen to Kristen Radtke HERE. Kristen Radtke masters a mode of storytelling that’s uniquely her own in her graphic memoir, “Imagine Wanting Only This.” Eerily-haunting, her book explores how certain special people touch and shape our lives, and why we’re sometimes attracted to places (and […]
Listen to Kelly Oxford HERE. This weeks guest, Kelly Oxford, tells it like it is — and she inspires millions of other women to speak their minds and share their experiences too. Her first book of essays “Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar” was an […]
Since Sweetbitter was published last May, it has gone on to become a best seller: It’s one of the few books to truly capture the frenetic experience of working in the restaurant industry (the protagonist is a server at a place that bears a close resemblance to the original Union Square Cafe). Now, the book is finally out in paperback, which means author Stephanie Danler is still on a book tour, even while working on a new nonfiction book. At least bouncing from New York to Los Angeles (where she calls home) meant she could hit Shake Shack and In-N-Out on the same day. Read all about it in this week’s Grub Street Diet.
Thursday, April 13
I wake up at 7 a.m., snuggled with my sister in Chinatown. Beg for coffee and fall asleep again. When I wake, there’s coffee next to the bed, and a “Sister Smoothie” in the fridge. Avocado, cherries, kale, and blueberries. She’s quite proud of her smoothies, but I love them because they’re a touch disgusting. I think it’s the aloe-vera juice. My favorite part is when Sister tells me how the smoothie will keep me full until lunch. Yeah, fucking right.
This is typical of my life in NYC now: My sister and I share a bed; she makes me all sorts of weird treats. At the end of the night, she walks me through her ten-step Korean skin-care program, and then we drink magnesium water and watch videos on Instagram in bed together. We were both married once, and this is so much more fun.
I make toast with packets of Justin’s almond butter that are usually in my suitcase. I also eat six spoonfuls of Sister’s homemade blackberry-rosé sorbet, and a handful of homemade pickled beets, while responding to emails that I should have responded to weeks ago.
At 12 p.m., I have lunch with Robin Desser, editorial director of Knopf and one of my serious woman-crushes. I don’t know how I got this lunch-date dispensation, but we don’t ever seem to run out of conversation. She picked Benoit, Alain Ducasse’s, and I see the words “asparagus and morels” on the menu, and I’m done. It’s served in a coquette, a sort of a stew of barely blanched asparagus, and I dip lots of bread into the gravy that’s left. I get a Campari soda, even though it feels early. I’m celebrating. The Sweetbitter paperback just hit the IndieBound best-seller list, which is based on independent bookstores’ sales. It means more to me than any other list.
I go to Pressed Juicery in Columbus Circle after lunch for a Wellness Shot and the new rosewater lemonade. Cannot get sick. The Wellness Shots work.
At 5 p.m., I meet my agent, Mel Flashman, and editor, Claudia Herr, at Janklow & Nesbit, where Mel has a bottle of Billecart Champagne already chilled. The number of bottles of Billecart we’ve had in the past year … they should sponsor me. Mel’s office has a terrace with stunning views, and we go out there to have a very sentimental toast to the paperback. I didn’t think I would be so moved by this release, but I am. I think about how hard we’ve all worked — how hard everyone works, from assistants to booksellers to art directors, to make books — and I’m totally weepy. And the paperback feels more permanent. This is the form the book will be in when I die. Sounds morbid, but it feels like a miracle. But yikes! Can’t get drunk before my event at Greenlight Bookstore.
By 6 p.m., I’m in Fort Greene and we run into No. 7 — after battling an unholy number of people on the rush-hour 5 train — where I wolf down fried-broccoli tacos, pickles, and French fries with a glass of rosé. Chug water. Get nervous and feel ill, but that’s all normal. Chug water.
At Greenlight Bookstore, I’m in conversation with the brilliant and beautiful Angela Ledgerwood of the Lit Up podcast. I’m super nervous, there’s a huge crowd, and it’s warm in the room. Every time I feel shaky, I just stare at Angela’s soothing blue eyes and drink more rosé. The Greene Grape picked this curious Pinot Noir from Hungary that I’m heartily recommending to the crowd.
I black out during events. It’s better that way. When we finish, I’ve sweated through my cardigan, and it’s dripping down my sides. Silk dress. Covered in sweat. Mortified. Drink more rosé and an entire bottle of water. Feel my usual disembodied, surreal self when strangers come up to me and tell me how important the book is to them. I can’t process it in the moment, or I would start bawling. My publicist, Angie Venezia, makes sure I sit down, breathe, hydrate, and sign books, and gets me rosé at Black Forest beer garden. I’m in awe of the incredible friend-family that surrounds Sweetbee.
At 11:45, Sister puts a face mask on me and makes us Golden Milk. It’s toasted coconut milk (also homemade) mixed with turmeric, ashwagandha, and ghee. She says, “It’s so simple!” because toasting coconut flakes and making your own coconut milk is something most people whip up after work. The longer she stays in NYC, the weirder she gets — I’m extra obsessed with her lately.
Friday, April 14
At 7 a.m., Sister rolls over in bed and says, “Should I take a personal day?” and I say, “Of course,” because it’s a medium-quiet workday for me. I think for a second that it means we can sleep in, but then I smell the coffee.
We go to Dimes for overpriced green smoothies (kale, coconut water, avocado), and go the Greenmarket in Union Square so Sister can load up for her cooking projects. She’s just getting into pickling, which is soooo 2009, but it’s cute on her. We get watermelon radishes, purple radishes, and golden beets. She wants to make ratatouille, and I roll my eyes and say, “You should only serve ratatouille in summer.” Sister ignores me and buys these pretty hot-house tomatoes and basil.
Lunch is at Kiki’s with my hardcover publicist from Knopf, Jordan Rodman. Years ago, after my novel was acquired, I got invited to the Knopf 100th-anniversary party, where I was completely overwhelmed and starstruck (Patti Smith’s surprise performance was just one highlight). I went to the bar afterward and was greeted by a tipsy and enthusiastic 24-year-old assistant publicist named Jordan. She was quoting my book to me. She forced me to take selfies with her. I thought she was insane. Four months later, she was promoted and became my publicist. No exaggeration: It was the best thing that ever happened to me or Sweetbitter.
Jordan’s keeping kosher for Passover like a good Jew, and I eat all the bread and tzatziki and fava mash, and the eggplant spread and the lemon potatoes (best thing on the menu). I eat so much of that stuff, I feel ill. Jordan tells stories that make me grateful that I’m not 25 anymore. Then I help her write text messages to guys she needs to tell to fuck off.
Sister and I walk over the bridge to Williamsburg. It’s spring in the greatest city in the world. We go to Marlow & Sons, a tradition. So many reasons to love Marlow, but the real reason is that they have been putting out exquisite, hyperseasonal food for the 11 years I’ve been going there — how is that possible? How is the raw-asparagus salad we order (asparagus, almonds, mint, preserved lemon) the most delicious thing I’ve eaten in 2017? I do not know the answer, and I don’t need to. I don’t dissect restaurants anymore, just adore them.
We rounded the salad out with oysters, chicken-liver pâte, and the scallops with butter beans, yogurt, and za’atar. We’re drinking a Slovenian Chardonnay that has the salinity and dryness of a Manzanilla sherry. Touch of amaro at the end. A-plus meal.
Happy birthday, Molly Prentiss! Molly wrote the critically acclaimed Tuesday Nights in 1980, and I’m an original superfan of hers. We go to Troost, a newish bar in Greenpoint that reminds me that everyone in New York is de facto cooler than everyone in L.A. We’re in the garden, and I drink Campari sodas so I’m not hungover (Campari soda = not hungover, the foundational equation of my life), and Molly made a heritage cake from her great-great-grandmother’s recipe. It’s dense and not too sweet; I accidentally eat most of it.
Magnesium water and Golden Milk back in Chinatown. Sister says she’s drunk and it’s my fault. Whatever, I’ll take the blame. She looks happy when she falls asleep.
Saturday, April 15
I hate flying. I barely slept from anxiety. I don’t know if my Campari-soda plan worked. I instinctively know that Shake Shack at JFK will cure me. I get a bacon-egg-and-cheese and a dollop of sriracha. It’s risky, as I’m a little nauseous, but I feel human when I finish.
I can only eat “puffed air” snacks on planes. Too nervous for real food. I eat half a bag of Snapea Crisps. They always make me a little sick, but are so satisfying. I can’t drink coffee before flights (see: anxiety), so I’m gulping cups of black tea and water, and sweating and working. Despite this lifetime of flying anxiety, or perhaps because of it, I get a ton of writing and reading done on planes.
I land at LAX at noon. Insert emoji with heart eyes. My love, Matt, picks me up at the airport with In-N-Out — protein-style, no onions — a huge bottle of Mountain Spring water, Pressed Juicery (apple, lemon, cayenne), and lilacs. He also has Mayra, our stolen dog (short version: I fell in love with my best friend’s dog and now routinely steal her). Experts take note, this is how you have Shake Shack and In-N-Out in the same day.
Before New York, I was in Aspen for work. Before that, Spain. Sometimes, I lose track of where or who I am. I have four days in Los Angeles for the entire month of April. I’m ravenous and hugely relieved to be home.
I go to the Silver Lake Farmers Market for dinner supplies. Matt’s sister and his nieces are arriving, and I want to cook — it makes me feel like I’m living in my “real life.” Asparagus (obsessed much?) for a spring-farro salad — a riff on something out of Chez Panisse Vegetables. I add Feta. Serve with a shallot vinaigrette, my recipe where I macerate the shallots for at least 30 minutes and throw in a ton of anchovies.
April in California is ridiculous. I buy fava beans, pea shoots, asparagus, Meyer lemons, strawberries, super-spicy large-leaf arugula, eggs, butter, and a whole chicken to roast. Couldn’t find English peas, so I buy a bag of frozen ones. Do I need to compare the farmers’ market in L.A. to the one in NYC? No, it’s too cruel.
We run by Silverlake Wines for house wine (Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire), Campari, and a bottle of Manzanilla sherry.
We eat in the backyard in Echo Park, and it’s glorious out. Matt’s nieces are pure joy. They miraculously love asparagus. I keep a huge bag of candy in our closet, so I can ensure that they love me the most of all the adults. We have the asparagus-and-farro salad with a roasted chicken and a few sweet potatoes. I drink a Campari mixed with grapefruit LaCroix, my house variation of a Campari soda.
At 9 p.m., it’s magnesium water, ginger tea, exhaustion.
Sunday, April 16
Easter! And back in my kitchen! Currently obsessed with Canyon Coffee made in the Chemex. While Matt is hiding Easter eggs in the yard, I make an assortment of toast for everyone in the house (avocado, peanut butter and banana, butter, and honey). We are taking the girls to Universal Studios for Harry Potter World.
Let’s get this out of the way — Harry Potter is dope. Universal Studios is one of Dante’s circles of Hell. We drink Butterbeer from a stand in Hogsmeade (if you don’t know these HP references, I can’t help you), which is butterscotch soda with this whipped-cream head on it. Definitely the most sugar I’ve had in a decade.
We have lunch at the Three Broomsticks, where I eat fish and chips. The plate is entirely fried and brown, and they weren’t generous with the French fries. The adults split a 20-ounce beer that costs $12. I throw out my neck on one of these god-awful virtual-reality rides, so I have another beer and four Tylenol when we get to Simpsons Land — appropriately, a Duff Beer at Moe’s Tavern, which I guess is pretty cool.
Ten hours at Universal Studios. After 4 p.m., I refuse to eat anything there. But no complaining — the girls are so happy, and it really did feel like Harry Potter for a second. Plus, we’re going to El Compadre for dinner. El Compadre is not trendy or authentic, but reminds me of the Mexican restaurants I grew up with in Southern California. Big booths, mariachi music, huge messy plates of enchiladas, fajitas sizzling in cast iron, and goblets of margaritas. It’s been around since the ’70s, and it’s pretty much perfect.
Enchiladas verdes, at least six baskets of chips; I drink all of my Pacifico and most of Matt’s. I want to be a kid again, so I can lie down in the booth. Exhausted.
Monday, April 17
Canyon Coffee in Chemex at 7 a.m. Two pieces of toast with almond butter and banana. I have a list a mile long — accounting, scheduling, interviews, deadlines, not to mention I’m out of clean underwear. Busy morning.
Surprise lunch with the love of my life (also a child, is this weird?), Luca, and his mom, Carly de Castro. We go to Honey Hi on Sunset Boulevard, and I have the breakfast bowl (sweet potato, turmeric poached egg, avocado, sumac). Then I run around my yard with Luca on my back, even though my neck is kind of broken. I miss my people so much when I’m traveling.
Matt takes off half a day, so we can have a minute to ourselves. Then, we’re shopping for dinner. We go to Fish King in Glendale for salmon and hit the Whole Foods. I never thought I would shop in the suburbs, but I have an irrational fear of driving in downtown L.A. I also hate closed parking structures. Nothing scarier. I guess I am getting soft.
Dave Peterson comes over, a.k.a. Mayra-the-stolen-dog’s actual owner. He’s just back from Coachella and is producing a ton of shows in the desert at Pappy & Harriet’s, so we are ships crossing in the night. Pre-music-festival-producer days, Dave and I worked at Tía Pol together, and he went on to become a cook, working all over Mexico and Brooklyn. He’s one of the only people I know in L.A. that thinks about food the way I do.
We cook together often and ambitiously. But tonight is easy because everyone is brain-dead. I’ve been making these salmon-and-brown-rice bowls and throwing in whatever is in season: Today, I blanch asparagus (no one is surprised), and roast eggplant glazed in miso (recipe from Lucky Peach Vegetables). I quick-pickle seedless cucumbers in rice vinegar, chop up radishes and scallions, and poach the salmon in barely simmering, lemon-infused water for eight minutes exactly. The whole thing comes together with a sweet miso dressing, and we eat outside under the lights, and Dave tries to tell me — yet again — that the Beatles are overrated. Yeah, right, listen to the White Album and go fuck yourself.
Dave brings a Riesling from Nahe, and I have a California pét-nat (naturally produced sparkling wine, typically from France) that’s cloudy and funky and tastes more like kombucha than wine. I love weird wines, but sometimes, I just want structure. In comes the Riesling, razor-sharp acidity and unbelievably dry.
Magnesium water, ginger tea, quiet.
Tuesday, April 18
Canyon Coffee in Chemex. Toast with almond butter with a side of Elizabeth Bishop poems. Greens 4 juice from Pressed. This is my last day in L.A. for five weeks, the thought of which makes me manic.
All the leftovers become a weird lunch. It’s Saturday’s farro salad, all the asparagus, the cucumber pickles, last shreds of salmon, and some sweet miso dressing. I put that on a huge pile of arugula and poach an egg. Drink two grapefruit LaCroix throughout the process. I literally emptied the fridge into a bowl, and it was fucking delicious.
Vanilla Almond Milk Coffee from Pressed. I mix Sun Potion ashwagandha into it, which is supposed to be good for adrenal fatigue. Coffee is not good for adrenal fatigue. I don’t know. I’m trying.
By 5 p.m., I’m stress-eating rice crackers (another puffed-air snack), avocado, and hummus (from the guys at the farmers’ market; it’s like silk). I’m in a haze, and then I look down and the entire bag of crackers is gone. It happens.
I am in a packing nightmare. I need clothes for a cross-country book tour, in addition to two music festivals, New York, and a wedding. I do not have the mental bandwidth to figure it out, so I panic and go to my love Alex McKenna’s house for help.
First, she gives me a glass of a super-nutty Chenin Blanc. I should mention that her house — in addition to possessing a closet called “Narnia” that takes up the entire garage — is also like a natural-wine bar. Whereas you can find me on the plane drinking Pinot Grigio from a box, Alex will not compromise on wine. Her fridge is filled with pét-nats, and chilled Northern Italian reds. Her “house wine” is a Trousseau from the Jura. Everyone at domaineLA and Silverlake Wines can recognize her voice when she phones in her orders.
I leave her house — after two glasses of wine, a bowl of these crazy potatoes she roasted with ghee and smoked sea salt that she was saving for dinner (whoops), and a chilled Orgaid face mask — with two Reformation dresses. She’s an amazing emergency resource.
Magnesium water, ginger tea. Epsom salts in bathtub. Matt’s out of town for business. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been in a house alone. Double-checking my suitcase, and my alarms. I touch all my books and go to bed with Plainwater by Anne Carson.
Off to Massachusetts and D.C. this week. Then Iowa City, Wichita, Chicago, and so on, and so on for the next month. I say yes to everything. I remind myself of all the joy in this, even the chaos. I often say that the privilege of my life is getting to write. But it’s not. It’s the food and the love. I am fucking #grateful.
Listen to Viet Thanh Nguyen HERE. The multi-talented Nguyen knows what it means to inhabit a life radically shaped by history. In 1975, he and his family came to The United States as refugees in the wake of the Vietnam War. His debut novel, The […]
Listen to Julie Buntin HERE. My brilliant and dear friend Julie Buntin joins me to dive beyond the pages of her remarkable novel, Marlena. She tells the story of two girls, Cat & Marlena, and the wild year that will cost one her life, and […]
How does a fastidious IGA check-out chick and public school kid from upstate New York, with no connections and no Ivy League education, end up a few feet from the Oval Office, working as the youngest-ever woman to be deputy chief of staff for the president of the United States? Mastromonaco shares the memories and mishaps that shaped her journey, from desperately trying (and failing) to get a job in politics after college to finding herself joking with Obama about his penchant for black mock turtlenecks in her memoir, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House. She reveals way more in this special and very funny episode. After listening to this show you’ll know why Obama wanted to keep her around for as long as he could!
Whether you prefer your reading sexy and satirical, political and polarizing, or simply amusing, the year’s best releases are guaranteed to hit the spot by providing some much-needed escapism, while challenging the status quo and sparking timely conversation. The best books of 2017 (so far, […]
Listen to Mohsin Hamid HERE.
Sure to win a swath of awards this year, Mohsin Hamid‘s timely and important novel Exit West is about young lovers Nadia and Saeed, whose relationship is pressurized and contorted by war. In this unnamed city, suspended somewhere between the past, the present, and the future, text messages and one hour of daily internet connection link Nadia and Saeed with the world beyond a home that is disintegrating day by day. First the rich flee, then communication halts, and as the violence escalates they must decide how and when to escape their crumbling homeland. This timely novel brings the frightening reality of war outside your window up close and makes it deeply personal.
Mohsin and I had to make our conversation a quick one, but somehow this forced us to get right to the point, and I hope the result is as compelling as his beautiful book.
Photo credit: Ed Kashi
|Mohsin Hamid is the author of four novels, Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and Exit West, and a book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations.
His writing has been featured on bestseller lists, adapted for the cinema, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, selected as winner or finalist of twenty awards, and translated into thirty-five languages.
Born in Lahore, he has spent about half his life there and much of the rest in London, New York, and California.
Listen to Ariel Levy on the podcast HERE. This week’s guest is Ariel Levy, a self-described professional explorer. She’s crisscrossed the globe in search of these unique experiences as a staff writer for The New Yorker since 2008, and now turns her interrogative eye on […]
Here’s how she turned challenges–like moving to a new country, struggling to lose weight, and battling endometriosis–into opportunities. PHOTO: FLICKR USER ELLEN WALLOP, ASIA SOCIETY It’s easy to look at Padma Lakshmi and think, here is a person made for the spotlight. But for […]
New York’s Chicest Women-Only Club
In a matter of months, The Wing already has a 3000-strong waiting list.
(lead image credit: Harper’s Bazaar)
Late last year, after a decade trying to make it in New York’s hectic media world, with a weekly podcast interview series with writers I admire, I had fully embraced the freelance lifestyle. But, that meant working from home and I had developed a habit of talking to myself that didn’t stop when I was writing in cafés (and often overstaying my welcome). Like a lot of women, I wondered if my love affair with expensive, crowded New York had run its course—especially after America elected a pussy-grabbing reality TV star as president.
Enter The Wing, an unapologetically feminine and elegant, women’s-only co-working space and social club. Founded by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan and located in Manhattan’s historic Ladies’ Mile District, The Wing is a nod (and a wink) to the late 19th century female-centric commerce and ladies’ clubs that flanked the area around the iconic Flatiron building.
Step out of the elevator and you walk into a light-filled, pastel-hued space with views of the Manhattan skyline. To the right there’s a café nook offering an array of fair trade coffee, tea and chai, with treats and snacks from Brooklyn-based Ovenly bakery and the Lower East Side’s healthy-hotspot Dimes (both female owned and operated, like all their amenity partners). To the left, there’s the library curated by librarian and writer R.H. Lossin, plush velvet couches for cozy catch-ups, and communal work tables punctuated by fragrant floral arrangements. Going to the bathroom has never been so enjoyable because it’s stocked with Glossier products (founder Emily Weiss is a member). Add marble showers, a pump room, a beauty room (with on-demand hairstyling and makeup services) and the place is like a fantasy come to life.
Looking around I can usually spot recognisable faces, like that of Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine, or co-founder and editor-in-chief of Refinery29 Christene Barberich, or rapper Remy Ma, but the vibe at the Wing whispers, “we are all equal here—merely women trying to live our best lives.” For me, the simple act of saying hi to the woman next to me often leads to the most inspiring stories.
The project was born when Gelman, a former political and public relations consultant (she’s also Lena Dunham’s good pal and the inspiration for the character Marnie on GIRLS), met former Class Pass studio empowerment director Kassan, and they bonded over the working-lady frustrations most of us can relate to, especially if you live any distance from where you work. The term ‘bag lady’ comes to mind—a harried woman lugging around a tote stuffed with a computer, makeup, workout gear, and an after-work outfit and heels. Gelman’s original idea, called Refresh, aimed to provide women with a practical personal space where they could stash their stuff, take a shower and freshen up.
“We became energised by the idea of creating a modern, robust community of women who wanted to link arms, collaborate, lift each other up, and give back to society,” says Kassan. (Each member must commit to three days of volunteer service a year.) After a crash course in fundraising—they raised $2.4 million from majority female investors— and The Wing was born, opening it’s doors in October last year.
Gelman and Kassan enlisted Marianna Martinelli, The Wing’s community director & general manager, to cultivate a diverse group of founding members. “We wanted all kinds of women at different stages in their lives, from different backgrounds, and with varying interests,” she explains. “For the founding members we reached out to women in our extended networks and contacted women we admired out of the blue and hoped they would answer our emails.”
Today The Wing has 600 members, but there is a 3000-plus wait list for membership. The cost is surprisingly low for a city hardly known for being affordable: $1,500 per year for the 200 founding members, or $1,950 (or $185 per month) for later recruits.
When Kimberly Drew, social media manager at The Metropolitan Museum, joined the Wing, she was looking for a co-working space. “I surely wasn’t expecting to find a second home,” Drew says. “The empowerment, criticality, and energy that I’ve felt in The Wing has renewed my spirit in ways that I could not have imagined. Pre-Trump and post-Trump, the Wing has been a space for radical fellowship.”
Kassan says The Wing’s broad variety of members is its key, bringing women together without boundaries and judgment, to realize, “It’s okay to care about politics and your lipstick.” From braiding workshops, to off-site Beyoncé-themed dance classes, to the monthly book club lead by New York Times contributor Iranian-American Porochista Khakpour, the programming and events reflect this philosophy.
The resounding feedback is more, more, more…Someone even started the hashtag #bringthewing hoping to entice the pair to open a location in their city. The last burning question is, ‘why no men?’ For Gelman and Kassan it’s less about excluding men and more about the special kinetic energy that is created when large groups of women gather together. “The women who belong to The Wing say they are more productive, feel more affirmed and more confident and feel less alone,” concludes Gelman.
That’s something a lot of women—this one included—sorely needs as well.
Listen to Jami Attenberg HERE. Jami Attenberg is the best! I’ve been waiting to have her back on the show ever since Emily and I interviewed her about her last book Saint Mazie. As you will hear, All Grown Up, knocked me about and triggered […]
Listen to Jin Min Lee HERE. I’m excited to celebrate International Women’s Day with my convo with writer Min Jin Lee, whose latest novel Pachinko is a stellar example of female resilience through the ages. Pachinko illuminates a period of history unknown to many of us – early […]
Listen to JENNIFER WRIGHT HERE. I’ve wanted to have Jennifer Wright on the pod ever since I read her first book, It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History. Jennifer has a rare ability to make history funny, titivating, and relevant, in way I’ve not […]
Listen to AYELET WALDMAN’S EPISODE HERE.
This episode is sure to have you rethinking all you know about LSD and drugs in general. In her memoir, A Really Good Day – How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, Ayelet Waldman reveals what happened when she followed through with microdosing herself with LSD for a month to help combat her depression. Our conversation go to many places including using MDMA as marriage therapy, the state of the justice system, and more.
Image credit: Jillian Tamaki for The New York Times.
Ayelet Waldman is the author of the novel Love and Treasure, Red Hook Road, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, and Daughter’s Keeper, the Mommy-Track series, as well as the essay collection Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace. She was a Federal public defender and taught a course on the legal implications of the War on Drugs at the UC Berkeley Law School.
Episode 88: Patricia Bosworth on The Men in Her Life, Her Time at The Actors Studio & Tea with Audrey Hepburn & Givenchy
LISTEN TO PATRICIA’S EPIDOSE HERE. Patricia Bosworth has written biographies about Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda and Diane Arbus, and now she applies her talents to her own fascinating life in her second memoir, The Men in My Life. The book chronicles Bosworth’s adolescence and sexual awakening, her […]
Upcoming Lit Up podcast guest Ayelet Waldman was featured in The Sunday Book Review in the New York Times sharing her favorite books. Next week she’ll be on the show to talk about her most recent book, A Really Good Day about micro dosing with LSD. Illustration […]
Whether you prefer your reading sexy and satirical, political and polarizing or simply amusing, these stand-out books in February are guaranteed to hit the spot by providing some much-needed escapism, while challenging the status quo and sparking timely conversation.
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
The multi-talented Nguyen knows what it means to inhabit a life radically shaped by history. In 1975, he and his family came to The United States as refugees in the wake of the Vietnam War. His debut novel, The Sympathizer, winner of last year’s Pulitzer Prize, revisited the conflict that changed the trajectory of his life and inserted a much-needed Vietnamese perspective to the largely American-driven narrative. In The Refugees, a collection of stories 20 years in the making, he gives voice to the Vietnamese communities in Southern California (where he grew up) and to those living in the country he fled, acknowledging that the ghosts of war reverberate for generations.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Saunders, the master of strangeness, celebrated for his quirky, sharp and humorous short stories, shares his first novel with the world and it does not disappoint. When Saunders discovered that a grief-stricken Abraham Lincoln repeatedly visited his 11-year-old son’s crypt in the days following his death in February 1862, he couldn’t get the image of the grieving father out of his mind. What results is a playful and poignant supernatural wonder of a novel. Unfolding over the one night Lincoln inhabits the “bardo,” the transitional place between life and death according to Tibetan tradition, Lincoln is surrounded by ghosts past and present. These ghosts are sexy, rude, naughty, haughty and shocking. (The 166-member, start-studded cast of the audio book might give you a hint of what’s in store: Julianne Moore, Susan Sarandon, Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Carrie Brownstein, Miranda July, Lena Dunham, Jeffrey Tambor, Don Cheadle, Patrick Wilson, and Ben Stiller all lend their voices to the recording.)
Abandon Me by Melissa Febos
Anyone who’s read Febos’s memoir Whip Smart—about her four years working as a professional dominatrix at a midtown Manhattan “dungeon” while in grad school—knows that her work explores boundaries as deftly as it defies categorization. In this new collection of essays, she once again obliterates convention with her erotically charged and intellectually astute recollections of family, relationships and the search for identity. In Abandon Me, Febos interrogates what it means to be the product of an aloof sea captain and a psychotherapist, how the mysteries of her childhood shaped her, and how pain, addiction, and the need for human connection forged in her such deep desires and longings.
Running by Cara Hoffman
In the 1980s, teenager Cara Hoffman ditched college and took off for Europe, occasionally sleeping in train stations and stowing away in Venetian water taxis. Just as her funds were running dangerously low, she heard about a place she could crash and earn a small commission working as a “runner” in Greece—that is, walking the length of trains and luring in unsuspecting tourists to the seedy hotels in the red-light district of Athens. Running, the novel inspired by these experiences, explores the dark, alluring intersections between love and survival. When Hoffman’s three young protagonists unwittingly become involved in an act of terrorism, the bonds they’ve formed are irreversibly fractured and each must deal with the cost.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Thirty years in the making, Lee’s sweeping, multi-generational novel is set in 1900s Asia and is informed by stories she heard about legal and social discrimination against Koreans in Japan, a history largely denied and erased. This story kicks off with an unplanned pregnancy and the promise of a less shameful life in Japan and evolves into addictive family saga packed with forbidden love, the search for belonging, and triumph against the odds.
Angela Ledgerwood is the host of Lit Up, a podcast about books, writers, and all things literary.
LISTEN TO RACHEL HULIN’S EPISODE HERE. This week’s episode with writer and photographer Rachel Hulin is the perfect antidote to these politically uncertain times–sometimes you simply need to sit down with a smart and lovely person and have a conversation that snaps you into the […]
LISTEN TO ROXANE GAY HERE. I’ve read Roxane Gay’s work ever since I discovered her writing in grad school in 2010. Whenever there’s a huge cultural moment–a political catastrophe, an attack on Feminism, or breaking Channing Tatum news—I’m eager to see what she has to […]
Hello 2017! We are back with an exciting lineup for the year that will hopefully inspire, challenge, and provoke.
This week Lucinda Rosenfeld talks about her most recent novel “Class.” The novel is as provocative as the title suggests. It’s also laugh-out-loud funny and one hell of a gripping read. Lucinda’s portrait of Karen Kipple, a mother grappling with how to live by her liberal ideals, is as relatable as it is confronting. While skewering the liberal bubble (so talked about in the politics of late), the novel also raises important questions about education, equality, and race. Some of the topics raised made me uncomfortable, and the book will do the same, but my hope is that having these frank conversations raises awareness and prompts us to acknowledge our own hypocrisies.
Lucinda wrote a beautiful essay in The New Yorker in 2014 that I reference in the show. It’s called The Battle Hymn of the Papier-Mache Mother.
Hope you enjoy this episode. Let us know @litupshow on Instagram & Twitter.
You can buy CLASS here.
Listen to Julia Baird HERE. I’ve been following author, broadcaster, journalist, and fellow Australian Julia Baird for more than a decade. In fact, I’ve been lurking around waiting for an opportunity to speak with her because I admire her work so much. Now she’s written the […]
LISTEN to Siri Hustvedt on the pod HERE. For many years I’ve read Siri Hustvedt’s work and marveled at her intelligence. The breadth of her knowledge–of the sciences, arts and literature– is mind boggling. Now, she shares another example of her genius with the world; […]
Listen to David Szalay HERE.
I often talk to women, but this week I reversed the trend and spoke to a man about the experience of being a man. A truly original idea! The man is David Szalay. His book, All That Man Is, shortlisted for the Mann Booker Prize, is a collection of nine stories about men at different points in their lives, each struggling with what creates a meaningful life. The pros are vivid, arresting, and unsentimental, especially when covering terrain such as male desire, male failure, and the dreamlike (sometimes mundane) nature of being a human. For a cerebral analysis of the book, check out James Wood’s review in the New Yorker, Nine Tales of Crisis in “All That A Man Is” – David Szalay’s novel is bracingly unsentimental about male desire and male failure. (The cover illustration is by BJØRN LIE for the New Yorker and it accompanies this article.)
I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with David and I hope you do too.
I had to include this dashing photo! Buy All that Man Is here.
Szalay (pronounced SOL-loy) was born in Montreal in 1974 to a Hungarian father and a Canadian mother. He grew up in London, was educated at Oxford, and currently lives in Budapest. He is the author of three previous novels, London and the South-East, The Innocent, and Spring. In 2013, Granta named him one of its best young British novelists.
LISTEN TO JADE CHANG HERE. There may not have been a more positive presence in the Lit Up studio than that of Jade Chang. It’s little wonder that she’s the author of the astute, funny, and sharp novel, The Wangs vs. the World, a road trip romp […]
LISTEN TO TREVOR NOAH HERE. Riveting. Humble. Inspiring. This is how I would describe comedian, writer, and host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah. This week he joined me at NeueHouse, in New York, for an intimate conversation about his memoir Born a Crime, which should be required reading […]
Trevor Noah on Born a Crime Wednesday Nov. 16 @ NeueHouse
As host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah is one of the world’s brightest voices, and provides viewers in America and around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire. With his new book, Born a Crime (released November 15), Noah turns his focus inward, giving readers a deeply personal, heartfelt, and humorous look at the world that shaped him. A collection of eighteen personal essays, Born a Crime tells the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. The conversation will be hosted by Angela Ledgerwood, host of the literary podcast Lit Up, followed by a book gifting and signing.
Wednesday, November 16th from 9-9:30PM NeueHouse Madison Square 110 East 25th Street
Immerse yourself in the life of a young documentarian searching for her roots in a seaside Indian pilgrim town in Sleeping on Jupiter, Anuradha Roy’s most recent novel about the legacy of war and the state of womanhood in India. One of the pleasures of this novel is getting to know three delightfully-gossipy old ladies who’ve embarked on a trip of a lifetime, as well as Roy’s determined and stoic protagonist Nomi. There is so much to this haunting novel and this conversation will delve into just some of the taboo topics brought up amongst its pages.
Buy Sleeping on Jupiter at your local independent bookstore or on Amazon here.
Anuradha Roy’s latest book, Sleeping on Jupiter, won the DSC Prize for Fiction 2016 and was nominated for the Man Booker prize 2016. It has been nominated for various other literary prizes, including the FT/ Oppenheimer Prize, Hindu Prize for Best Fiction 2015, the Tata Book of the Year Award 2015, and the Atta Galatta Bangalore Literature Festival Fiction Prize 2015. She won the Economist Crossword Prize for her second novel, The Folded Earth. Her first novel, An Atlas of Impossible Longing, has been widely translated and was picked as one of the Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post and the Seattle Times. It has been named by World Literature Today as one of the 60 most essential books on modern India and was shortlisted for the Crossword Prize.
Anuradha Roy won the Picador-Outlook Non-Fiction Prize in 2004 for her essay, “Cooking Women”. She works as a designer at Permanent Black, an independent press which she runs with her husband, Rukun Advani. She lives in Ranikhet, India.
This week we have Emma Donoghue on the show to talk about her latest novel, The Wonder. She’s the author of five story collections and eight other novels, including Room (2010), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and adapted, with a screenplay by Donoghue, […]
This week we decided to switch it up and have two of our favorite literary professionals share their favorite books of the season. Steph Opitz is the books reviewer for Marie Claire magazine and celebrates books via work with the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) and the […]
With all the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court and the upcoming election and the landmark opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer last week that struck down a Texas law that would have closed all but nine abortion clinics in the state–supported by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg–it seemed like the perfect time to re-air our conversation with MSNBC journalist, Irin Carmon, about her book Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (co-written by Shana Knizhnik).
It was an honor to talk to Irin, who has devoted her career to illuminating women’s rights, and who now pays homage to one women who’s paved the way for us all. If you don’t know much about the life and work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, this is one not to miss!
Irin Carmon is an MSNBC national reporter. Co-author of the NOTORIOUS RBG. Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School’s Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice.
What a week. After many, many months of (admittedly very fun) preparation, Lit Up is here. Thank you for listening and for helping launch our pod into the world. With your help we made it onto the iTunes New & Noteworthy list, hurrah!
We could not be more excited to share this week’s episode with Hanya Yanagihara whose most recent book A Little Life is making a huge splash in the literary world.
First up though, Emily and I catch up on what happened in our lives this past week – Emily interviewed Jennifer Weiner about online authenticity and she fell in love with Heidi Julavits’s new book The Folded Clock (she’ll be on the show in a week or two – stay tuned).
I hosted my book club for a Cuban themed soirée inspired by Rachel Kushner’s Telex From Cuba (I got the title wrong in our discussion, sorry Rachel!). I was lucky enough to visit the home of artist Arne Svenson. His new series of photographs are on show in New York at The Julie Saul Gallery until May 30th.
The main event, our discussion with Hanya, is undoubtedly one of the best things that happened to me this week. Her candid, fresh and fierce take on life prompted me to ask myself some big questions and I’ve been thinking about snippets of our conversation at strange moments ever since. Please let Emily and I know what it brings up for you.
One book mentioned in the conversation is Subtle Bodies by Norman Rush.
Hanya Yanagihara is an editor-at-large at Conde Nast Traveler and the author of the novels The People in the Trees and most recently A Little Life. She has created a beautiful Instagram account for A Little Life and of course has her own stunning feed account. Make sure to take a look.