72. Pierre Bayard - How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read

image.png

This episode of Backlisted was recoded live at the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall on July 27th, 2018. Andy and John are joined on stage by writer, actor and comedian Ben Moor, author of More Trees to Climb (Granta) and whose latest comedy show ‘Book Talk Book Talk Book’ premeried at the Festival, and writer and journalist Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of  The Last Act of Love and A Manual for Heartache (both published by Picador) and is currently at work on her first novel. The book under discussion is Pierre Bayard’s How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, first published in France as Comment parler des livres que l'on n'a pas lus? by Editions du Minuit  in 2007, and in the UK by Granta in a translation by Jeffrey Mehlman.

Books mentioned:

Pierre Bayard – How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read; Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?; Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong; How to Talk About Places You’ve Never Been
Pierre Bayard – Enquête sur Hamlet
Ben Moor - More Trees to Climb
Cathy Rentzenbrink - The Last Act of Love; A Manual for Heartache
Herman Melville – Moby Dick
Chuck Jones – Chuck Amuck: The Life & Times of an Animated Cartoonist
Andy Miller – The Year of Reading Dangerously
Nicholson Baker –  U & I
Michel Houellebecq – The Map & the Territory
Italo Calvino – If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller
Roland Barthes – S/Z
John Sutherland – Is Heathcliff a Murderer?
Diane Setterfield  - The Thirteenth Tale
T.S. Eliot - After Strange Gods

Other links:

Ben Moor’s website
Cathy Rentzenbrink’s blog
Pierre Bayard speaking at New York Public Library November 17, 2007
Hilary Mantel Guardian review of How to Talk About You Haven’t Read

Thanks to Spoke for sponsoring this episode - Spoke cut trousers in more sizes and custom finish for a flawless fit – delivered in two working days. For £20 off your first purchase, use the code BACKLISTED20 at checkout (valid to 30 September, 2018).

71. J.R.R. Tolkien - The Return of the King

image.png

In this episode of Backlisted Andy and John are joined by Dan Kieran, author and entrepreneur and co-founder of Unbound. Dan is the author of twelve books, including the timeless classic Crap Towns, and the soon-to-be-published The Surfboard: How Using My Hands Helped Unlock My Mind and we welcome back Dr Una McCormack, a British/Irish writer and academic, who has appeared on two previous Backlisteds talking about Georgette Heyer and Anita Brookner. Una lectures in creative writing at Anglia Ruskin and is co-director of the Anglia Ruskin University Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy but is best known as the author of a bestselling series of tie-in novels for Star Trek and Doctor Who. The book under discussion is The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, first published as the final part of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in 1955, and easily the least obscure book yet discussed on Backlisted. Before the main discussion Andy shares his recent reading haul, including the book he enjoyed most (Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban) and John talks about Olivia Laing’s wonderful debut novel, Crudo.

Books mentioned:

J.R.R Tolkien – The Return of the KingThe Lord of the RingsThe Silmarillion
J.R.R. Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings (BBC Radio 4 adaptation with Ian Holm, Michael Hordern)
J.R.R. Tolkien – The Silmarillion (audiobook read by Martin Shaw)
Dan Kieran & Sam Jordison – Crap Towns Returns
Dan Kieran – The Surfboard
Una McCormack – Doctor Who: The Way through the Woods
Russell Hoban – Riddley Walker
D.H. Lawrence – Sons & Lovers
Nicola Barker – H(a)ppy
Georges Simenon – The Krull House
Derek Taylor – As Time Goes By
Olivia Laing – Crudo; To the River; The Trip to Echo Spring; The Lonely City
Vladimir Nabokov – Pale Fire
Edward Thomas – In Pursuit of Spring
Douglas Adams – A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
John Garth – Tolkien & the Great War
Ronald Hutton – Witches, Druids & King Arthur

Ian Livingstone & Steve Jackson – Games Workshop 1975 – 1985 (Unbound Project Worth Backing)

Other links:

Opening and closing music - Stephen Oliver's soundtrack from the BBC R4 adaptation of The Lord of the Rings
Backlisted survey
Dan's original pitch (awarded a First by Una)
Led Zeppelin – ‘Ramble On’
Tolkien interview clips and the student vox pops, BBC 1968 - Part 1
Tolkien interview clips and the student vox pops BBC 1968 - Part 2
Lynda Snell reviews The Silmarillion on The Archers
Julian Barnes on The Krull House by Georges Simenon (LRB, April 2017)

Thanks to Spoke for sponsoring this episode - Spoke cut trousers in more sizes and custom finish for a flawless fit – delivered in two working days. For £20 off your first purchase, use the code BACKLISTED20 at checkout (valid to 31 August, 2018).

70. ZZ Packer - Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

image.png

In this episode of Backlisted, John and Andy welcome Nikesh Shukla: writer, editor and journalist. Nikesh is the author of three novels, the latest The One Who Wrote Destiny, was recently published by Atlantic Books and his first book for teenagers Run Riot has just been released by Hodder. He also edited the bestselling and game-changing anthology The Good Immigrant, is the editor of the literary journal, The Good Journal and co-founder with Julia Kingsford of The Good Literary Agency, founded to increase opportunities for representation for all writers under-represented in mainstream publishing. The book he’s chosen for discussion is ZZ Packer’s award-winning collection of stories, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, first published in the US in 2003. Before that Andy warmly recommends the new novel by regular Backlisted guest Lissa Evans, Old Baggage, published by Transworld in June and John enjoys the energy and chutzpah of Jade Sharma’s debut novel Problems, just published in the UK by the excellent Dublin-based independent publisher, Tramp Press

Books mentioned:

ZZ Packer – Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
Nikesh Shukla – The One Who Wrote Destiny; Meatspace; Run Riot; The Good Immigrant (ed.)
Lissa Evans – Old Baggage; Crooked Heart
Jade Sharma – Problems
Chip Zdarsky & Adam Kubert - Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1 - Into The Twilight
Olga Tokarczuk – Flights (trans. Jennifer Croft) Winner of the International Man Booker 2018
Akhil Sharma – Family Life

Darren Coffield - Tales from the Colony: The Lost Bohemia of Bacon, Belcher and Board (Unbound Project Worth Backing)

Other links:

An extract from ZZ Packer’s forthcoming novel, The Thousands
ZZ Packer reading from ‘Brownies’ at Berkeley, 2009
ZZ Packer interview at University of Iowa
ZZ Packer discussing Trump at Shakespeare & Co, Paris

Thanks to Spoke for sponsoring this episode - Spoke cut trousers in more sizes and custom finish for a flawless fit – delivered in two working days. For £20 off your first purchase, use the code BACKLISTED20 at checkout (valid to 31 August, 2018).

69. Rose Macaulay - Told By An Idiot

image.png

In this episode Andy and John are behind the scenes at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival and their guest is the world famous librarian, Nancy Pearl. Nancy was for many years the Executive Director of the Washington Center for the Book at Seattle Public Library, and her book recommendation radio broadcasts made her famous, first in Seattle and then internationally. Building on this with her bestselling books: Book LustMore Book Lust, and Book Crush, Nancy was named 2011 Librarian of the Year by Library Journal. She is the only living librarian (to date) to have an action figure made in her honour. In 2017, she published her first novel, George & Lizzie. The book Nancy will be discussing is Rose Macaulay's Told By An Idiot, first published in 1923 and reissued by Virago in their Modern Classics series in 1983. In this episode Andy also is very excited by Less, the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Andrew Sean Greer and John enthusiastically recommends Girl With Dove: A Life Built By Books by Sally Bayley.

Books mentioned:

Rose Macaulay - Told By An Idiot (1923); The World My Wilderness (1950); The Towers of Trebizond (1956); Personal Pleasures (1935)
Nancy Pearl - Book Lust; More Book Lust; Book Crush; George & Lizzie
Andrew Sean Greer - Less
George Saunders - Lincoln in the Bardo
Jessamyn Ward - Sing, Unburied, Sing
Sally Bayley - Girl With Dove: A Life Built By Books; The Private Life of the Diary
Lucy Mangan - Bookworm
Francis Spufford - The Child that Books Built
Andy Miller - The Year of Reading Dangerously
Nicholson Baker - U & I
Budd Schulberg - The Disenchanted
Cormac McCarthy - All the Pretty Horses
Grahame Greene - The End of the Affair
Ann Boston (ed) - Wave Me Goodbye: Stories of the Second World War
Sarah LeFanu - Rose Macaulay: A Biography
Constance Babington Smith - Rose Macaulay
Philip Roth - Sabbath's Theater
Nick Hornby - About a Boy
Edward St Aubyn - The Patrick Melrose Novels

Unbound Project Worth Backing:

Jonathan Meades - Pedro & Ricky Come Again

Other links:

Nancy Pearl Action Figure
Dangerous Minds blog on the novels of Richard Allen
Tim Wells - Moonstomp
Andrew Sean Greer on Twitter
Paul Auster on reading
Nancy Pearl's Rule of 50 for dropping a bad book

 

68. Angela Carter - The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories

image.png

Andy and John are at the Bath Festival recording a live edition of Backlisted in the neo-classical splendour of the Assembly Rooms. They are joined by novelist and Bath resident Rachel Heath, whose first book, The Finest Type of English Womanhood, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award in 2009 and her second, Part of the Spell, was published by Hutchinson in 2012; by Arifa Akbar, journalist, critic, prize-judge and and now editor-in-chief of the Unbound online magazine, Boundless and by Alex Clark, who is also a journalist, critic and literary taste-maker and one of the artistic directors of the Bath Festival. In a departure from the usual 'what have you been reading' format, there is a preliminary discussion of the influence and legacy of the great American novelist Philip Roth, whose death was announced the previous evening. 

Books mentioned:

Angela Carter - The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories (1979); The Magic Toyshop (1967); Love (1971); Nights at the Circus (1984); Wise Children (1991); The Sadeian Woman & the Ideology of Pornography (1979); Nothing Sacred: Selected Writings (1982)
Philip Roth - Sabbath's Theater (1995); American Pastoral (1997); The Human Stain (2000); The Plot Against America (2004); Portnoy's Complaint (1969); Goodbye, Columbus (1959); I Married a Communist (1998)
Edmund Gordon - The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography
Bruno Bettelheim - The Uses of Enchantment: the Meaning & Importance of Fairy Tales
Marina Warner - From The Beast To The Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers
E.L. James - Fifty Shades of Grey
Angela Carter - The Bloody Chamber (audio book read by Richard Armitage & Emilia Fox)
York Notes on The Bloody Chamber

Other links:

Angela Carter on women in art
Angela Carter on her grandmother (2.23 in)
Namara Smith in The Nation (2017) on Angela Carter & Andrea Dworkin
Angela Carter reviews The Official Foodie Handbook in the LRB (1985)
The Company of Wolves movie
Philip Roth's last interview

67. Willa Cather - My Ántonia

image.png

In this episode of Backlisted, Andy and John are joined by the critic and biographer, Hermione Lee to discuss My Ántonia, the pioneering novel by Willa Cather, first  published a hundred years ago in 1918. Hermione Lee was, until last year, President of Wolfson College in Oxford and remains Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Oxford. In 2013 she was made a Dame for her services to literary scholarship. Chief among these services are a series of  acclaimed biographies of some of the most important 20th century women writers: Virginia Woolf (1996), Edith Wharton (2006), Elizabeth Bowen (1981), Penelope Fitzgerald (2013) and the subject of today’s episode, Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up first published by Virago in 1989. This episode also sees Andy revisit an old favourite, The End of the Affair by Grahame Greene and John explores the remarkable story of Knepp Estate in West Sussex, the UK’s largest rewilding project documented in Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree.

 

Books mentioned:

Willa Cather - My Ántonia; A Lost Lady (1923); The Professor's House (1925); O Pioneers (1913); The Song of the Lark (1915); My Mortal Enemy (1926); Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)
Willa Cather - Willa Cather on Writing 
Hermione Lee - Willa Cather: Double Lives / A Life Saved Up (1989); Body Parts: Essays on Life-writingA Very Short Introdcution to Biography
Raymond Chandler - The Long Goodbye
Grahame Greene – The End of the Affair
Grahame Greene – The End of the Affair audiobook (read by Colin Firth)
D.H. Lawrence – The Rainbow
Laura Ingalls Wilder - The Little House of the Prairie
Louisa May Alcott - Little Women
Henry James  - The Portrait of a Lady
Ivan Turgenev - Fathers and Sons
Leo Tolstoy - The Kreutzer Sonata
Virgil - Georgics
Halldor Laxness – Independent People
William Maxwell - Time Will Darken It
Jon McGregor - Reservoir 13
Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote

Roger Philips – Wild Cooking (Unbound Project Worth Backing)

Other links:

Rules restaurant
Derek Jarman's Garden in Dungeness
Henry James's House in Rye
The Rutles – All You Need is Cash (1978)
The Rutles – 'All Things Must Pass'
Grace Dent’s Guardian review of The Fordwich Arms
Hermione Lee’s review of The Selcted Letters of Willa Cather in the New Yorker
Winter Reads: My Antonia by Xan Brooks
Yours, Willa – documntary inspired by Cather's Selected Letters  
My Antonia TV movie (1995)

66. Sebastian Faulks - The Fatal Englishman

image.png

In this episode of Backlisted, John and Andy are joined by Rishi Dastidar, a poet and copywriter whose first collection Ticker-tape was recently published by Nine Arches Press. Rishi is also chair of the London writer’s charity, Spread the Word; consultant editor at the independent poetry magazine The Rialto and a fellow of The Complete Works II, a programme that promotes quality and diversity in British poetry. The book Rishi has chosen is The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives by Sebastian Faulks, his only work of non-fiction, first published by Hutchinson in 1996. Before that, Andy finally comes to terms with the sequence of Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn (just before the first episode in the Sky adaptation was broadcast) and John plunges into the strange and haunting world of Folk by Zoe Gilbert.

Books mentioned:

Other links:

65. Gayl Jones - Corregidora

image.png

Andy and John are joined in her record-equalling third appearance on the Backlisted podcast by Sarah Churchwell, Professor of American Literature and Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study in the University of London. The book she has chosen is Gayl Jones' 1975 masterpiece, Corregidora, a novel acquired by a commissioning editor at Random House called Toni Morrison. Before that, Andy enjoys a coming-of-age novel set in 1940s Soho - Rain on the Pavements by Roland Camberton, while John follows the meanderings of Edward Thomas's In Pursuit of Spring, his classic account of a bicycle ride taken from London to Somerset in 1913 (another classic from our friends at Little Toller Books).

Other books mentioned:

Other links:

Thanks to Spoke for sponsoring this episode - Spoke cut trousers in more sizes and custom finish for a flawless fit – delivered in two working days. For £20 off your first purchase, use the code BACKLISTED20 at checkout (valid to early June 2018).

64. Alexander Baron - The Lowlife

image.png

John and Andy are at the dogs for Backlisted this week, discussing the 1963 cult novel The Lowlife by Alexander Baron. They are joined by London enthusiast Peter Watts (the first person to write a biography of Battersea Power Station) and Gary Budden, author and director of ground-breaking indie Influx Press.

Books mentioned:

Unbound project of the week:

Other Links:

Thanks to Spoke for sponsoring this episode - Spoke cut our trousers in more sizes and custom finish for a flawless fit – delivered in two working days. For £20 off your first purchase, use the code BACKLISTED20 at checkout (valid to early June 2018)

63. Joseph Heller - Something Happened

image.png

Authors Matt Thorne and Nikita Lalwani join John and Andy on the Backlisted podcast to discuss the ‘other’ masterpiece by Joseph Heller, Something Happened, first published in 1974. Also in this episode John talks about Brother, a new novel by David Chariandy, while Andy has been reading Ursula Bentley's 1983 debut The Natural Order.

Books mentioned:

Unbound project of the week

  • Lucien Young - #Sonnets- get free postage by using the code HELLER at checkout

Other Links:


Thanks to Bloom & Wild for sponsoring this episode - fresh, seasonal flowers sent through the letterbox. For 20% off your first order, use the code BACKLISTED at checkout. 

62. Norah Lofts - The Town House

image.png

This episode's guest on the Backlisted podcast is the writer and columnist Lucy Mangan, author of a new memoir about her childhood reading, Bookworm (Penguin). She's chosen the now very under-read historical novel by Norah Lofts - The Town House and the discussion covers historical fiction (and how its marketed), the depth and quality of Lofts research and the brilliant idea of writing a trilogy that covers 600 years in one Suffolk house. Before that Andy is enchanted by Lee Stuart Evans novel Words Best Sung (Faber) and John allows the swagger of Emmanuel Carrère's The Kingdom (a histrico-philosophical memoir-cum-novel about the Gospels) carry him away (Penguin).

Books mentioned:

Other Links:

Thanks to Bloom & Wild for sponsoring this episode. They are the UK's top rated flower delivery company  - they send fresh, seasonal flowers through the letterbox and they’re sent in bud which means they last 7 days or more. Plus they offer free next day delivery across the UK (and to Ireland, France and Germany). For 20% off your first purchase, use the code BACKLISTED at checkout (valid to early June 2018)

61. Ann Quin - Berg

image.png

John and Andy are joined on the Backlisted podcast by writer and critic Jennifer Hodgson to discuss Berg the ground-breaking first novel by British experimental pioneer Ann Quin, first published in 1964. As well as Berg the trio discuss The Unmapped Country, a collection of lost stories and fragments, edited by Jennifer, and just published by the excellent indie publisher, And Other Stories. There's also Andy giving a spellbinding reading from Your Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life (You Are Raoul Moat) by Andrew Hankinson (Scribe) and John battling past the title to find hidden treasure in Yorkshire: A Lyrical History by archaeologist and polymath, Richard Morris (Weidenfeld & Nicholson).

Books mentioned:

Other links:

 

55. Diana Wynne Jones - Fire and Hemlock

image.png

Author and illustrator Alice Stevenson and her childhood friend, playwright Elinor Cook join John and Andy on the Backlisted podcast to talk about Diana Wynne Jones's novel of memory, childhood and friendship.

Books Mentioned:

Other Links:

 

54. Gordon Burn - Alma Cogan

image.png

In a special edition of the Backlisted podcast recorded earlier this year live at the Durham Book Festival, John and Andy are joined by writers Adelle Stripe and Ben Myers to discuss Gordon Burn's debut novel Alma Cogan. The 'WHWBR?' slots are occupied by Pevsner's guide to Durham and The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Books Mentioned:

Other Links:

53. R. F. Delderfield - To Serve Them All My Days

image.png

The novelist Jenny Colgan joins John and Andy on the Backlisted podcast to discuss R.F. Delderfield's epic of life in an English boarding school between the wars. Craig Brown's Ma'am Darling and Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood are the books we've been reading this week.

Books Mentioned:

Other Links: