Friday, May 24, 2019

Periel Aschenbrand II

Periel Aschenbrand

Periel Aschenbrand II (The Bat Segundo Show #505)

Periel Aschenbrand is most recently the author of On My Knees. She previously appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #7.
Author: Periel Aschenbrand

We talk with Periel Aschenbrand, one of Bat Segundo’s very first guests, for the first time in eight years, to discuss her latest memoir, ON MY KNEES, thank you notes, being introduced to Philip Roth as a “great writer,” judging other people, demonizing relatives in a book, and dental hygienists who may have killed their spouses.

Subjects Discussed: Borough biases, romantic attachments to Manhattan, on “knowing everything,” Ulysses, being introduced to Philip Roth as a “great writer,” when major writers put cherries in your mouth, courtesy and thank you notes, how to deal with compromise in life, going after what you want, risking everything to achieve, the importance of failure, not being qualified to do many things, Body as Billboard, House of Exposure, Aschenbrand writing more about the personal than the professional, The Only Bush I Trust is My Own, motivations to write, apartment battles, Aschenbrand as a “self-filling glass of water,” when new books are contingent upon life experience, approaching the act of writing almost exclusively through the self, crime novels, paranoia, being obsessed with Law and Order, Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, serial killer documentaries, Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawki novels, the problems with reading while pregnant, Jeffrey Dahmer, going to extreme positions to keep yourself alive, James Baldwin, writing what you know, standup comedy, safeguards against excessive solipsism, entering a morgue or a crime lab, efforts to persuade Aschenbrand to visit a morgue, transgressive behavior, long walks and journalism, live poultry markets, killing chickens, cutting techniques, persona lines, participating in acts that you write about, jumping out of airplanes, obsessiveness and interest, Aschenbrand’s suspicion of doctors, dental hygienists who may have killed spouses, thoughts on justifiable homicide, hiring private investigators, blind trust and therapists, degrees of risk with medical professionals, being an insider and an outsider, the impossibility of a full-bore outsider, the benefits of locking yourself in a room, pretending to be your grandmother to get a good rental deal, living in a high-floor walk-up, emerging from the wreckage of a bad breakup, Stuyvesant Town, the allure of the East Village, Aschenbrand’s massive throne-like couch, objects to project family history upon, narcissism and furniture, avoiding the safe lives that family members live, demonizing relatives in a book, grief, changing material in books to placate lawyers, loathsome behavior, considering other people’s feelings in a memoir, revealing details, empathy and forgiveness, avoiding malicious intent, finding humor in yourself, the romance of being written about, taking notes in front of people, Mikhail Baryshnikov, judging people as a genetic legacy, Aschenbrand’s gender assumptions, and responding to Aschenbrand’s claim that straight male professionals are incapable of not thinking about blowjobs when talking with women.

Sex, Spider-Man and the hubris of being a writer

Periel Aschenbrand

Sex, Spider-Man and the hubris of being a writer

Sarah Bruni, Adelle Waldman, Alissa Nutting and Periel Aschenbrand talk about writing in very few words

JUNE 25, 2013 4:00AM (UTC)
Sarah Bruni, Adelle Waldman, Alissa Nutting and Periel Aschenbrand are the authors of four hot summer reads — three debut novels and a memoir. "The Night Gwen Stacy Died," by Bruni, is a strange love story about an Iowa teenager and a man who calls himself Peter Parker and her Gwen Stacy (Spider-Man’s girlfriend). Waldman’s "The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P." chronicles the romantic misadventures and status anxieties of the titular protagonist, an up-and-coming writer in Brooklyn. "Tampa," Nutting’s second work of fiction, is a ripped-from-the-tabloids tale of a female teacher’s seduction of her young male student. And Aschenbrand’s memoir "On My Knees" is — well, just read it. I interviewed them as a group with a number of verbal restrictions on some of their answers:
Without summarizing the plot in any way, what would you say your novel is about?
Sarah Bruni: The Midwest. Spider-Man. Identity-borrowing. Adolescence.  Fugitives falling in love. Formative acts of reading.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Why are we so obsessed with young, successful people like Sally Rooney?

Sally Rooney

Why are we so obsessed with young, successful people like Sally Rooney?

The author’s achievements are considerable – but it’s her talent that matters, not her age

Ammar Kalia
Monday 14 January 2019


hen 27-year-old novelist Sally Rooney became the youngest-ever winner of the Costa Book Prize last week, it was to deafening cheers of critical acclaim that have characterised her brief career. Rooney has already been heralded as “the first great millennial novelist”, and a “Salinger for the Snapchat generation”. And these Snapchatting millennials have since been overwhelming booksellers in the rush to read their author, prompting shops to advertise that they still have copies of her novel, Normal People, in stock. Yet, for all her obvious talent, the fanfare around Rooney’s award made this millennial’s heart sink slightly.

The slightly frenzied reaction to Rooney seems to be symptomatic of the way we now greet achievements by young people. Last year, another 27-year-old author, Daisy Johnson, became the youngest person to be shortlisted for the Man Booker prize for her debut novel, Everything Under. Likewise, some of 17-year-old Autumn de Forest’s expressionist paintings have been valued at $7m (£5.5m), poet Ocean Vuong was only 28 when he won the TS Eliot prizefor his debut collection in 2017, and Christopher Paolini published the first of his bestselling Inheritance series when he was in his teens. It seems we increasingly celebrate youthfulness as a marker of success in and of itself; Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21 list began in 2017. This year’s cohort includes 11-year-old designer Kheris Rogers and seven-year-old “activist” Havana Chapman-Edwards.

Rooney, Johnson and their contemporaries’ acclaim might be well-deserved, but our obsession with publicising youthful achievement has consequences. Anne Helen Petersen’s article on millennial burnout went viral last week for its critique of how the precarious economic environment has led to what she describes as “errand paralysis” in millennials; the pressures to succeed at work and in our personal lives – perhaps with stories of 20-something geniuses at the backs of our minds – leave us unable to undertake even the simplest of tasks.

‘Poet Ocean Vuong was only 28 when he won the TS Eliot prize for his debut collection in 2017.’ Photograph: Adrian Pope

The focus on prodigies also means that older artists don’t always get their due. For instance, one of the best albums of 2018 came from 68-year-old bluesman Lonnie Holley. Traded for a bottle of whisky as a child and one of 26 siblings, he uses his gravelly baritone to sing of the injustices of his bewildering life and powerful musical resurrection. Similarly, singer Charles Bradley had to make his living as a James Brown impersonator for most of his career, only releasing his own music at the age of 63 with 2011’s No Time for Dreaming. He released two more records before dying in 2017 at the age of 68. In the art world, the painter Rose Wylie only began being given major solo exhibitions in her 70s.
The moral of these examples is out of kilter with the times, and hugely inspiring. It’s not “if you’re lucky enough you’ll be born brilliant”, but “keep plugging away and you’ll eventually find the success you deserve”.

The effects of the fetishisation of youth aren’t just felt by onlookers. For the prodigies themselves, the blaze of publicity isn’t always benign. The traumas of child stars such as Michael Jackson have been well documented, but last year we were reminded of Lauryn Hill, whose critically acclaimed debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, was released 20 years earlier, when she was 23. It was her only solo album. And after the enormous success of his debut in 1987 at 25 years old, Terence Trent D’Arby claimed recently he has been left with PTSD .

I’m not saying we should discourage youthful achievement – but perhaps we ought not to capitalise on it so aggressively when it occurs. The “race to success” is not always worth winning. We should listen to Rose Wylie: “It shouldn’t be about age or gender or anything, it should just be about the quality” – of the work, the life lived, the quieter moments.

• Ammar Kalia is a Guardian journalist and holder of a Scott Trust bursary

I should have slept with Philip Roth

Philip Roth

I should have slept with Philip Roth

"Would you like to taste one of my cherries?" the great writer asked me, flirtatiously. And then I blew it

JULY 1, 2013 4:00AM (UTC)
Excerpted from "On My Knees"
One of the perks of my job -- I got to go to really interesting events and meet really interesting people all the time. Some people were more interesting than others, of course, and I'd learned that meeting people you admire is often a bummer. They are generally shorter, fatter and uglier than you imagined, but that's neither here nor there.
In this particular scenario, I was being introduced to Philip Roth, my mother’s favorite writer, whom I had heard her refer to as “the literary lion.” And while I’ve never been particularly starstruck, I flipped when I found out Roth was going to be there. Next thing I know, a mutual friend takes me by the hand, drags me over to Roth, and introduces me to him in this fashion: “Philip. Zis is Periel, she is a grrrreat writer.”
I could not imagine anything more humiliating in the entire world. I wanted to curl up in a hole and die. Adding insult to injury, a friend of Roth’s who was lingering around us, nodded toward Roth and said to me, “So you like him, huh?”
In attempt to salvage whatever miserly bit of self-respect I had left, I said, “Well, I don’t know him, so I can’t like him, but I do like his work.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Anaïs Nin / Sex and the open stacks

Anaïs Nin

Anaïs Nin

Sex and the open stacks

By Kathy Wilson

Ah, the public library circa 1982. The workhorse institution of the community, a perpetually underfunded repository of stuffy reference books, underpaid librarians, used book sales, tax forms, broken microfiche readers -- and pornography.

Lurking right there in the open stacks of my suburban public library was enough smut to blow my impressionable 13-year-old mind. My life changed the day I spied Anaïs Nin's "Delta of Venus" on a shelf in the fiction section. I quizzically studied the photograph on the cover. It showed a girl in strange clothing contorted on an old armchair, her dress hiked up to her hips, revealing a stocking attached to a lacy undergarment. "Erotica" the cover said. I cracked open the book to see what was inside.

A blunt conversation about life online with Bret Easton Ellis

A blunt conversation about life online with Bret Easton Ellis 
Disappear here...

Movies are finished, the novel is dead and the internet is driving people insane. Welcome to the world of Bret Easton Ellis: a literary maverick who’s brutally honest about the digital age.
Text by Steven T. Hanley 
Photography by Patrick Fraser
Bret Easton Ellis is no stranger to shit-storms. At a time when most public figures communicate through the prism of PR, his take on the world feels aggressively unfiltered.
For three decades, Bret’s output as a bestselling author has been underpinned by biting humour and transgressive social commentary – the kind that never fails to cause controversy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Art of Brian Sanders / Five Decades of illustration

The Art of Brian Sanders

Bryn Havord

Friday, December 30, 2011

My first meeting with Brian was during the 1960s, when as art director of Woman’s Mirror, I commissioned him to illustrate a ten-part serial for the magazine. During the past year we have renewed our acquaintanceship becoming friends, and realizing that we have much history in common.


(Above: This is the first opening spread from the first commission I gave to Brian; a ten-part serial for Woman's Mirror, 1964.)

Educated at St Olave’s Grammar School, which then stood at the foot of London’s Tower Bridge, Brian spent much of his final year life drawing and painting at the Sir John Cass College of Art, less than a mile away on the other side of the river. He was offered a place at the Slade School of Art, but because of family circumstances he went to work in an advertising agency.


(Above: A portrait of Brian’s eldest son Mark, showing a keen interest in a worm. Always interested in and biology, now in his early 50s, he works in the radiology department of a New Zealand hospital.)

Quickly learning that most of its artwork was commissioned from two London artists’ agents, he joined one of them as a ‘gofer’. Artist Partners exposed him to sixty world-class artists and photographers and their work. He owes much to the help that many of them gave him.

‘Mad Men’ Draws On an Original

Brian Sanders, a veteran of the golden era of magazine illustration, with his “Mad Men” drawing.CreditGuy Sanders

‘Mad Men’ Draws On an Original

By Randy Kennedy
March 10, 2013

In the five seasons that “Mad Men” has been on television that celebrated series set in the art-directed world of 1960s advertising has never marketed itself the way a ’60s ad man most certainly would have: by calling in a hotshot illustrator to do the job.

But as the show prepared for its new season, which begins April 7, its creator, Matthew Weiner, inspired by a childhood memory of lush, painterly illustrations on T.W.A. flight menus, decided to turn back the promotional clock. He pored over commercial illustration books from the 1960s and ’70s and sent images to the show’s marketing team, which couldn’t quite recreate the look he was after.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Anaïs Nin / Little birds / Preface

Anaïs Nin
Little birds

It is an interesting fact that very few writers have of their own accord sat down to write erotic tales or confessions. Even in France, where it is believed that the erotic has such an important role in life, the writers who did so were driven by necessity — the need of money.

Andy Warhol's friendship with Jean-Michel Basquiat revealed in 400 unseen photos

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol outside the Mary Boone Gallery, New York, 3 May 1984.
Photograph: The Andy Warhol Foundation

Andy Warhol's friendship with Jean-Michel Basquiat revealed in 400 unseen photos

Book offers ‘voyeuristic glimpse’ into the two artists’ lives with hundreds of Warhol’s images and diary entries

Dalya Alberge

Monday 20 May 2019

A“voyeuristic” glimpse into the world of two of the late 20th century’s greatest artists is to be revealed in a book that finally brings to light some of the 130,000 photographs that Andy Warholtook to document every aspect of his life.

More than 32 years after Warhol’s death, hundreds of his photographs are set to reveal the minutiae of his friendship with fellow artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, capturing many moments together – whether partying, getting their nails painted, or even, for Basquiat, while in the depths of depression facing suicidal thoughts.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Is Arya Death? / The questions we need answered in Game of Throne

Arya Stark

Is Arya Death? The questions we need answered in Game of Throne

The saga comes to a close in what promises to be an epic finale. But who will kill Daenerys, will Bran warg again – and are the White Walkers gone for good?

Warning: this article contains spoilers.
Many of the big season eight questions have already been answered, like how the White Walkers are defeated, how Cersei bites the dust, and whether or not the showrunners knew where they were going all along. After a, shall we say, divisive penultimate episode, we are left with a deeply twisted happily-ever-after – the exiled ‘rightful’ queen Daenerys has claimed the throne, ready to rid Westeros of tyrants. Unfortunately, she blew everything up in the process. Where does that leave us for the finale? Here are the questions that still need to be answered.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Alice Munro / Axis / Short Stories


by Alice Munro

Fifty years ago, Grace and Avie were waiting at the university gates, in the freezing cold. A bus would come eventually, and take them north, through the dark, thinly populated countryside, to their homes. Forty miles to go for Avie, maybe twice that for Grace. They were carrying large books with solemn titles: “The Medieval World,” “Montcalm and Wolfe,” “The Jesuit Relations.”
This was mostly to establish themselves as serious students, which they were. But once they got home they would probably not have time for such things. They were both farm girls, who knew how to scrub floors and milk cows. Their labor as soon as they entered the house—or the barn—belonged to their families.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Nina Bawden / The Birds on the Trees / Review

Nina Bawden
The Birds on the Trees

APRIL 14, 2010
I took this photograph of Nina Bawden’s copy of the first edition of her novel “The Birds on the Trees”, sitting on the green velvet armchair in her quiet study at the back of the old terrace where she lives next to the canal in Islington. Several weeks ago, I wrote a pen portrait of Nina Bawden to celebrate her nomination for The Lost Booker Prize of 1970 and now I am delighted to report that she has been shortlisted for the award, which will be decided by an online public vote closing at the end of this month.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Colin Farrell / Sissy Spacek / A Home at the End of the World

A Home at the End of the World (2004)

Cynthia Fuchs
21 Jul 2004


Director: Michael Mayer
Cast: Colin Farrell, Robin Wright Penn, Sissy Spacek, Dallas Roberts
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Warner Independent Pictures
In Cleveland, 1967, cute-as-can-be Bobby Morrow (Andrew Chalmers as a nine-year-old) comes to self-consciousness with the help of his brother Carlton (Ryan Donowho). Or maybe more precisely, he comes to realize the world is a wildly beautiful and unpredictable place. Here he as likely to view his first sex scene (via Carlton's unlocked door: "It's just love, man, it's nothing to fear") as to have his mind expanded (via Carlton's LSD) or his heart broken (via an unexpected and quite brutal death). Wide-eyed and apparently cherubic (his favorite grave marker in the local cemetery is the angel), the child absorbs his lessons serenely, a proverbial blank screen onto which you're invited to project your own desires.

Unfortunately, Bobby's vagueness tends to be more tiresome than inspiring. This despite the fact that, after a few scenes as a 15-year-old (played by Erik Smith), he grows up to be Colin Farrell, whose full frontal has already-famously been cut from the finished film ("Too distracting" is the filmmakers' reported rationale). And, aside from this bit of promotional detail, A Home at the End of the World, written by Michael (The Hours) Cunningham from his novel, is doesn't have so much to frame its central character. The movie doesn't quite translate the book's lyrical internal monologues to embodied characters. Bobby's naïveté grants him a blithe ignorance of anything outside his narrow existence, everyone around him admires, resents, adores, resent and lusts after him, usually all at once. As complicated and intriguing as such a range of responses might sound, A Home at the End of the World, directed by Michael Mayer, doesn't provide much in the way of motivation for any of them. Why do all Bobby's acquaintances (okay, three characters) fall all over themselves to be in love with him?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs review / A skilful dance between times

The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs review – a skilful dance between times

James Joyce’s daughter struggles to align her relationships with her gift for movement

Anita Sethi
Sunday 12 June 2016

With admirable narrative control, this debut novel depicts its narrator, Lucia, James Joyce’s daughter, losing control to “ungovernable emotions”. The immensely gripping story skilfully oscillates between Zurich, 1934, where Lucia is having excruciatingly tense sessions as a patient of Dr Carl Jung, and the devastating tale of how, in late 1920s Paris, her life unravelled.
Dancing, declares Lucia, is “the most important thing in my life” and she has a great gift for it, evoking the euphoria of performing before a rapturous audience. Dancing was her “lifebelt”, but when distracted from her vocation, manacled to her father as his muse and fatally attracted to his protege Samuel Beckett, she starts sinking.
Here is a powerful portrait of a young woman yearning to be an artist, whose passion for life – and rage at being unable to fulfil her talent – burns from the pages.
The Joyce Girl is published by Impress 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Colm Tóibín on testicular cancer / ‘It all started with my balls’

Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín on testicular cancer: ‘It all started with my balls’

Step by painful step, the novelist has written about his diagnosis, agony and treatment

Deirdre Falvey
Thu, Apr 11, 2019, 14:15

A good writer loves a good intro. Colm Tóibín begins his story: “It all started with my balls.” What follows is an account of being diagnosed with and treated for testicular cancer, in an 8,500-word article just published in the London Review of Books.
Tóibín writes clearly and dispassionately, with detail, gently humorous self-deprecation and frequent literary references, about his experience.
It starts lightly. He initially thought his testicular pain was caused by heavy keys in his pocket; after some internet research he self-diagnosed it as a hydrocele, or harmless swelling, which didn’t worry him . “Had I been sure how to pronounce it, I might even have started to boast about it.”

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Alice Munro / Corrie / Short Story


by Alice Munro

“It isn’t a good thing to have the money concentrated all in the one family, the way you do in a place like this,” Mr. Carlton said. “I mean, for a girl like my daughter Corrie here. For example, I mean, like her. It isn’t good. Nobody on the same level.”
Corrie was right across the table, looking their guest in the eye. She seemed to think this was funny.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Dear Mariella / Strangers in the night

Man in night
by Maria Karalyos


Strangers in the night

The only women he feels happy with are prostitutes. But the price he's paying is higher than he knows

Mariella Frostrup
Sunday 15 February 2004

I am 40 and have never had a long-term serious relationship with a woman. The relationships I have had have been very mixed - those in which I met the women socially and got to know them as friends initially were a lot more successful than those I met through personal ads in newspapers.
I find myself going to clubs and just standing there all night, not having the nerve to talk to women. I have resorted to prostitutes and sex phone lines to try to get some sexual closeness without having to make the effort to get to know people. I went to a counsellor, but I ended up not telling her when I continued to use the sex lines and internet sex sites. I know the answer lies in me beginning to be more positive about myself and not being frightened to fail. I hope to ask my doctor to recommend me for more counselling. I just wonder if there are many men in my position, and what you might suggest.You're lucky I'm not single any more, or you'd be in for a savaging. I don't want to burst your bubble, but guys like you are 10 a penny in the dog-eat-dog world of the dating singleton - afraid of intimacy, incapable of commitment, unable to view women as real people, only able to see sex as a conquest and never as an essential part of a blossoming relationship. You ask me if there are many men in your position; you better believe it. Though why that would be of any comfort to you is a trifle disconcerting. There are plenty of men out there, publicly jubilant that they've managed to stay emotionally unattached for so long, but in the privacy of their homes surfing internet chat rooms and porn sites while cradling their Pot Noodles and wondering why their lives feel empty and lonely.
I'm not tarring you entirely with the same brush. Instead, I suspect there's just a light undercoat of that form of dysfunction, making it hard to distinguish between you and the truly hopeless cases. You have attempted to seek help, even if you decided to lie to your counsellor. You are not alone in that course of action either. Generally speaking, the human desire to be liked far exceeds the human desire to be understood. Hence the reason people spend fortunes in therapy trying to get their shrink on their side. I had a friend once who used to tie herself up in knots conjuring up interesting things to say to her therapist in order to keep him amused for the full hour and avoiding what she described as 'awful silences'. She wasn't at all impressed with my suggestion that the silences were there to provide time for contemplation. Anyway, you didn't help your counsellor and, in turn, she was unable to help you.
It's clear from your letter that you're aware of your shortcomings. Now you just need to stop acting like an idiot when it comes to your behaviour towards women. You're a smart guy, you know that the road to fulfilment doesn't lie in prostitutes and phone sex lines. Your current behaviour is committing you to a lifestyle where intimacy and real emotional contact are both absent. I'm sure you are aware that this is not the route to happiness or a fulfilling (and, indeed, less costly) sex life. You don't sound like the sort of man who is insensitive or misguided enough to let that happen.
This may be a step too far for you, but have you thought about giving up sex, let's say for six months? So far, it doesn't seem to be getting you anywhere you really want to go. You talk about a fear of failure, but if you're not out for a result then you can't fail, can you? By backing out of the business of seduction for a while you may find the process of getting to know the opposite sex takes on less onerous dimensions. Try communicating without focusing on an end goal and you might actually find you can form relationships (I mean friendly relationships) without failure as an option.
It's time for a radical rethink of your approach to womankind. You are being shortchanged if all you're using us for is sex. We're perfectly capable of putting on a good show in the sack, but we can also be amusing, loving, caring friends. Often, you don't even need to take your pants off to enjoy those latter delights. You are deluding yourself if you think you are achieving sexual closeness with strangers - that's just your basic, rudimentary sex. Getting to know people doesn't require that much effort. All it takes is a readjustment of your priorities and a little bit of Dutch courage.
I suspect you're in for a pleasant surprise.

Posters / Winter's Tale

Winter's Tale

Monday, May 6, 2019

Adam Thirlwell / The infinite voices of Philip Roth

Philip Roth

The infinite voices of Philip Roth

One minor theme in the mess of the twentieth century was the novelist’s fear of the biography. “I hate tampering with the precious lives of great writers”, wrote Vladimir Nabokov. “I hate the rustle of skirts and giggles in the corridors of time – and no biographer will ever catch a glimpse of my private life.” Just as Milan Kundera, quoting those words in The Art of the Novel, added: “Overfamiliar metaphor: The novelist destroys the house of his life and uses its stones to build the house of his novel. A novelist’s biographers thus undo what a novelist has done, and redo what he undid”. There was definitely, let’s say, a certain froideur.