Episode 173: The All-Book Episode

0:00 0:00
The All-Book Episode/Art by Divya Srinivasan

This week: It’s our first ever ALL-BOOK episode – a whole hour of fun with literary luminaries. MacArthur ‘Genius’ Junot Diaz probes the mind of a young cheater…LeVar Burton – beloved host of “Reading Rainbow” – offers life advice for book borrowers… British heavyweight Martin Amis lets his dogs out… And indie queen Miranda July tells us about a print relic… Plus, fun footnotes from T.C. Boyle, YA phenom Leigh Bardugo, and a guy named Shakespeare.

Icebreaker: T.C. Boyle

T.C. Boyle — author of the new novel “San Miguel” — doesn’t write self-help books, but he jokes about them.

Small Talk: Sadie Stein

Sadie Stein, deputy editor of The Paris Review, tells us about the late Mike McGrady and his “sexy” literary hoax.

A History Lesson with Booze: Astor Place Riots and the “Cobbler Rouge”

This week back in 1849, New Yorkers rioted…over Shakespearean acting. Learn about Edwin Forrest, William Charles Macready and the brawl they spawned… and then smash down a custom, era-appropriate cocktail from a Broadway bar.

“Cobbler Rouge,” as performed by Frank Caiafa, bar manager at The Vault at Pfaff’s – a handsome cellar bar just a few blocks from the site of the original riot:

Into a shaker, add:

Quarter of fresh peach, cubed (small handful)
1/2 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes of orange or peach bitters
1 oz. Red Bordeaux wine (“Claret” to the Brits)
2 1/4 oz. Hudson Four Grain Bourbon (the all-American part)
Add ice and give it a hard and riotous shake. Strain into a freshly iced goblet – ideally a “Hawthorne House” glass. Add fresh mint as garnish (after slapping the mint against your hands for a bit to “wake it up”). Top with powdered sugar. Drink it down and leave the drama behind.

Guest List: Leigh Bardugo

Just a few weeks back, Dreamworks acquired the movie rights to author Leigh Bardugo debut novel “Shadow and Bone,” to be produced by the guy behind the Harry Potter films. It’s set in a unique, fictional world inspired by Tsarist Russia. Here’s Leigh to tell us about it…and to list some of her other favorite fantasy worlds:

Guest of Honor: Martin Amis

London’s Times newspaper named Martin Amis one of the 50 greatest postwar British authors. Included amongst his 12 novels are the modern classics “London Fields” and “The Rachel Papers” — not to mention a meoir, two short story collectoins, and a bunch of nonfiction. His latest novel is “Lionel Asbo: State of England,” which follows a young man and his brutish, sociopathic uncle Lionel… who wins a hundred and forty million pounds in the lottery. Brendan chats with Martin about “yobs,” Nabokov’s living room, and who lets the dogs out.

Eavesdropping: Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz’s debut novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” (2007) won him legions of fans… and the Pulitzer Prize. That book follows a Dominican-American boy and his immigrant family in New Jersey…a milieu to which Junot returns for his short story collection “This is How You Lose Her”. We overhear him reading an excerpt from the showstopping finale “The Cheater’s Guide to Love.” (Massachusetts listeners: Catch Junot at the Concord Festival of Authors this Saturday.)

Chattering Class: Miranda July

Before Craigslist and eBay, pulpy handouts like the PennySaver (and of course, the classifieds) made it possible for neighbors to buy, sell, and exchange their stuff. Amazingly, the PennySaver still exists… which is a good thing for writer-director Miranda July. A couple years ago, the newsletter led her on a creative, story-rich odyssey across LA and broke a nasty spell of writer’s block. She teaches Rico about PennySaver protocol, lovable luddites, and other strange (and very cheap) wonders that appear in her latest book It Chooses You. It hit bookstores this week.

Etiquette: LeVar Burton

If Earth ever DID send a delegation to greet an alien planet, we’d nominate LeVar Burton as ambassador-in-chief. The affable actor/producer starred in the award-winning ’70s TV miniseries “Roots” (as Kunta Kinte), and later in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (as the VISOR-equipped Geordi La Forge). But LeVar might be best known as the host and creative force behind “Reading Rainbow,” PBS’ long running children’s series. LeVar tells us about his new venture: turning the show into an interactive iPad APP (released earlier this year)… Then tackles our listeners’ questions about borrowed hardbacks and the vicissitudes of sci-fi nerd-dom.

Main Course: Marcus Samuelsson

Marcus Samuelsson is one of the most popular – and busiest – chefs in the country. In the last few years, he won the TV show Top Chef Masters, earned the James Beard Award for culinary excellence, and cooked the first state dinner of the Obama administration. Now, Marcus has published a memoir called “Yes, Chef.” In it he talks about his multinational upbringing and his pro soccer aspirations… but food lovers will dig into scenes of his intense culinary training. Brendan chats with Marcus about tough love amongst top chefs, race in the kitchen, and his latest food find. (For those in Philadelphia who want to dine with Marcus, he’ll be at the First Person Arts Festival next Wednesday, November 7.)

One for the road: Belle and Sebastian – “Wrapped Up In Books”

Indie vets Belle & Sebastian named their band after a 1965 children’s book by Cécile Aubry called Belle et Sébastien. So it’s only appropriate that they write songs about books. “Wrapped Up In Books” has catchy melodies and clever lyrics that will serve as the perfect song to listen to on your way home from the library.

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

London Festival Orchestra – Beethoven “Symphony #9, 1. Molto vivace”

Lionrock – Don’t Die Foolish

Triumph – Fight The Good Fight

Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones Theme

Lou Reed – My Name Is Mok

Joe Hisaishi & Wonder City Orchestra – Howl’s Moving Castle Theme

Baha Men – Who Let The Dogs Out

Damu the Fudgemunk – Gone With The Sunset

Damu the Fudgemunk – You Know Who

Nomo – Patterns

Cal Tjader – Money Penny Goes for Broke

Jimmy Fallon – Reading Rainbow

Nightmare on Wax – Nightmare on Wax

Belle & Sebastian – Wrapped Up In Books