Episode 189: David France, Jackie Collins, and Vampire Lemonade

David France/Photo by Karine Laval

This week: Oscar-nominated filmmaker David France on plagues and platforms… Pulitzer-finalist Karen Russell sinks her teeth into a new story collection… Bestseller queen Jackie Collins tells you how to (mis)behave… Alex Karpovsky (“Girls”) goes meta… We dip into chip history… Why religion matters to atheists… Plus Graveyard humor, cheating via satellite, and “Entertainment” provided by Phoenix.




Graveyard Gets Hot


From Russia with Love... Lost

Small Talk

Richard Lawson, Senior Editor for The Atlantic Wire, shares a high-tech story from Russia with love…lost.

Skinny Phone Books and the Tropical Tom Collins

A History Lesson With Booze ®

This week back in 1878, a new type of book was published that you would never want to read cover-to-cover.

Alex Karpovsky in the Meta Spiral

Guest List

Alex Karpovsky plays the edgy coffee-shop boss Ray in the hit HBO series “Girls.” He’s also an award-winning - and prolific - indie filmmaker.

David France Acts Up

Guest of Honor

Esteemed journalist David France's debut documentary, “How to Survive A Plague" - about the activist group Act Up, which in the 1980s and 1990s focused the world on the AIDS crisis and arguably helped bring about today’s treatments for the virus - was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Karen Russell Gets Right to the Juicy Bits


Karen Russell’s debut novel “Swamplandia!” was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer prize. Her new book - the entrancing, Gothic-tinged story collection “Vampires in the Lemon Grove” - has been receiving similarly rapturous reviews.

Crunchy, Crunchy History

Main Course

Lately, there’s been a veritable explosion of fancy chips: plantain chips, kale chips, soy chips. The current craze inspired Sam Dean to write a history of the chip for Bon Appetit.

Jackie Collins Goes on a Power Trip


Jackie Collins’ sexy romps have sold over 500 million copies. Her latest offering, The Power Trip, brings together a few billionaires and beauties on (where else?) a luxury yacht, and throws in some murder for good measure.

Alain de Botton Believes in Non-Belief

Chattering Class, Guest of Honor

Alain de Botton has penned a string of bestsellers exploring the nature of Architecture, Philosophy, Work, Status, Love, and Religion. But, y’know, maybe one of these days he’ll try to focus on something actually important.

Phoenix is Bankrupt - but Entertaining

One For The Road

Here’s a contradiction: the band Phoenix hails from Paris. Here’s another: their 2012 album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” went gangbusters, and this April’s follow-up is called “Bankrupt.” So it’s nice to know that the lead single - “Entertainment” - is precisely what it claims to be.

Playlist: Episode 189


Music from this week's show.