Listen to Daphne’s episode HERE. Daphne Merkin is one of my favorite people and she is hands down one of the best writers I’ve ever come across. This is one of my favorite episodes. Daphne is a former staff writer for The New Yorker and […]
Tag: Angela Ledgerwood
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 come across before. Her passion and enthusiasm jumps off the page and makes her most recent book Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them, a most compelling and important read. From understanding what makes a good leader (we see you Marcus Aurelius), to the hysteria of laughing and dancing plagues, to the origin of the condom (hello syphilis?!), Jennifer takes us on an journey through time that informs our present.
Photo credit: Victor Medina San Andrés
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 […]
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 […]
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; a compelling and radical collection of essays on art, feminism, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy called, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind. Speaking with Siri was such a privilege. Our convo ranges from the artwork of Louise Bourgeois, why she took so long to begin psychoanalysis, and the challenges of the female artist.
I think you’ll be able to see from this picture just how special this conversation was. Please share with your friends if you like it.
Buy A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women here.
I have included the extensive bio from her website below because it’s ever so interesting and will give you some background to this episode…
Siri Hustvedt was born February 19, 1955 in Northfield, a small town in southern Minnesota, to a Norwegian mother, Ester Vegan Hustvedt, and an American father, Lloyd Hustvedt. Most of her early life was spent in Northfield with her parents and three younger sisters, Liv, Asti [the scholar and author of Medical Muses], and Ingrid. She and her sisters attended local public schools. Ester stayed home with her children but later worked as a French instructor and in the library at St. Olaf College. Lloyd Hustvedt taught Norwegian language and literature at St. Olaf and was the first King Olav V professor of Norwegian Studies. He became Executive Secretary of The Norwegian American Historical Association, an unpaid position, to which he devoted four decades of his life. The Association was a repository for a vast archive of immigrant letters, documents, diaries, newspapers, recipes, and books, few of which had been put into order when Lloyd took over the job. He spent countless hours in Rolvaag Library at St. Olaf, documenting the archive materials. In 1966, he won the McKnight Prize for Literature for his biography of Rasmus Björn Anderson, a Norwegian American scholar and publisher. In 1980 he was awarded the Order of St. Olav, Knight First Class by the King Olav V. In 1985, he was the first American to be recognized by the America-Norway Heritage Fund for his contributions to Norwegian American understanding and for preserving the history of Norwegian immigrants in the United States. He died February 2, 2004. Ester still lives in Northfield.
Siri first visited Norway in 1959 when her mother took her and her sister Liv for a summer visit. In the academic year 1967/68, the family lived in Bergen. The four girls were enrolled in the Rudolph Steiner School and spent the following summer in Reykjavik, Iceland, where Lloyd was studying the sagas. In the autobiographical essay “Extracts From the Story of a Wounded Self,” she describes her voluminous reading over that summer and her decision to become a writer. She continued her intensive reading and wrote poetry and stories during her high school years.
In 1972, she returned to Bergen to live with her mother’s sister and her husband and spent a year as a student at the Cathedral School and graduated with an Artium degree. She returned to the United States, attended St. Olaf College, and graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in history in 1977.
She worked for a year in her hometown as a bartender, saved money, and headed for New York City in 1978 to study English at Columbia University on a fellowship. She continued to write poetry, was a research assistant to the poet Kenneth Koch, a professor of English at Columbia, and worked at a number of odd jobs: waitress, researcher to a medical historian, department store model, and artist’s studio assistant. In 1982 she began teaching as a graduate assistant at Queens College. Her first poem appeared in The Paris Review The Paris Review in 1981.
Later that same year, she met the writer Paul Auster at a poetry reading at the 92nd Street Y. She married him on Bloom’s Day, June 16, 1982. In 1983, she published a small book of poems Reading to You with Station Hill Press.
In the spring of 1986, Hustvedt defended her doctoral dissertation on language and identity in Dickens: “Figures of Dust:A Reading of Charles Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend.”The dissertation turned on Dickens’ use of pronouns, metaphor,and images of fragmentation as they relate to a vision of the self, concerns that have continued to occupy Hustvedt in both her fiction and non fiction.In the dissertation, she drew on the work of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Emile Benveniste, Roman Jakobson, Mary Douglas, and Paul Ricoeur among others.
Hustvedt and Auster’s daughter, the singer-songwriter Sophie Hustvedt Auster was born on July 6, 1987.
After receiving her PhD, she turned to fiction and began work on her first novel, The Blindfold, two sections of which were published in literary magazines as stories and later reprinted in Best American Short Stories 1991 and 1992. The novel was published in the United States by the now defunct Poseidon Press in 1992 and was translated into seventeen languages.
Five novels followed: The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, What I Loved, The Sorrows of an American, The Summer Without Men, and The Blazing World. What I Loved and The Summer Without Men were international bestsellers.The Blazing World was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and won The Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction in 2014.
She began writing about art in the 1995 when Karen Wright, then the publisher of Modern Painters asked her to choose a single painting in the exhibition Johannes Vermeer at the National Gallery in Washington. That essay “Vermeer’s Annunciation” argues for an interpretation of Woman with a Pearl Necklace as an Annunciation rather than a Eucharistic image, which permanently altered scholarly perceptions of the image. She has continued to write about visual art and, in 2006, published a collection of her writing on painting with Princeton Architectural Press, Mysteries of the Rectangle.She has continued to write and lecture on art. Essays on the subject appear in her essay collection A Plea for Eros, and the last third of Living, Thinking, Looking is devoted to art, as are a number of essays in A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women.She has lectured at the Prado and Metropolitan Museums, an in January 2010 she was the Schelling Professor of Art at the Akademie der Bildenen Kunste (The Academy of the Visual Arts) in Munich where she delivered her lecture: “Embodied Visions: What Does it Mean to Look at a Work of Art?”
Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience
Hustvedt has had migraines and their accompanying auras since childhood and has long been fascinated by psychoanalysis, neurology, and psychiatry. Since the late-nineties, she has been immersed in neuroscience and the philosophical quandaries of the mind-brain debates. She began attending the neuroscience lectures at The New York Psychoanalytic Institute in New York and was subsequently invited by Mark Solms to attend the Mortimer Ostow Neuropsychoanalysis Discussion Group, which she attended for two years until the group was disbanded after Ostow’s death in 2006. She was a volunteer writing instructor for psychiatric in-patients at The Payne Whitney Clinic at New York Hospital for four years. In 2006, she suffered from violent shaking while delivering a memorial speech for her father, a symptom that became the subject of her book: The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. The book is both a personal account of Hustvedt’s experience as a patient with an unexplained symptom and an exploration of the ambiguities of diagnosis through the lenses of medical history, neurology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis,neuroscience, and philosophy.
Since the publication of The Shaking Woman, Hustvedt has lectured on neuroscience, psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literature at international conferences. In 2011 she delivered the annual Sigmund Freud Lecture for the Sigmund Freud Foundation in Vienna. She has published her work in a number of scholarly and science journals, including Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Neuropsychoanalysis, Seizure: the European Journal of Epilepsy, Clinical Neurophysiology, and Suicidology Online. In 2013, she gave the opening keynote lecture at an international conference on the work of Søren Kierkegaard in honor of his 200th birthday at the University of Copenhagen. She is the recipient of three honorary doctorates: from the University of Oslo in Norway,from Université Stendal in Grenoble, France, and from Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.
In 2012, she received the International Gabarron Award for Thought and Humanities.
In 2015, she was appointed a lecturer in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College where she gives a seminar in Narrative Psychiatry to psychiatric residents and junior faculty.
Hustvedt continues to divide her time between writing fiction and nonfiction.