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Memoir in the Age of TMI

Monday, April 13, 2015

On this week’s Out Loud podcast, Leslie Jamison, who recently wrote about Chris Kraus’s memoiristic novels, and Joshua Rothman, who has written about the autobiographical fiction of Karl Ove Knausgaard and Elena Ferrante, join David Haglund and Amelia Lester to discuss the state of the memoir in an age of ubiquitous self-documentation via social media. They discuss the evolution of so-called “confessional literature,” why discussions of autobiographical writing are so often influenced by the gender of the writer, and how authors use memoir to explore ideas about both themselves and the world. In the not-so-distant past, Rothman says, “people kept diaries, and then you took a creative-writing workshop and wrote thinly disguised autobiographical fiction about your life. And now, part of what’s defined the last decade or so is a lot of new ways to accomplish this.”
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Ninety Years of The New Yorker

Friday, April 10, 2015

The first issue of The New Yorker was published in February of 1925, ninety years ago this month. In celebration of our anniversary, David Remnick, the magazine’s editor, hosts a special episode of Out Loud in which writers and editors revisit New Yorker history, share memories, and discuss how the tone and direction of the magazine have evolved since its founding editor, Harold Ross, first envisioned a publication of “gaiety, wit, and satire.”
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The Beginning of the End of “Mad Men”

Monday, April 06, 2015

On this week’s Out Loud podcast, The New Yorker’s television critic, Emily Nussbaum, joins David Haglund and Amelia Lester to discuss the first of the final seven episodes of “Mad Men,” which aired last night. (Warning: the discussion includes some spoilers.) They discuss “Mad Men” in the age of binge-watching, the evolution of Don’s masculinity, the show’s handling of sexism, and where the final half-season might be heading. Despite the perils of high expectations, Nussbaum says, “However it ends, I’ll probably be happy.”
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Patrick Keefe and Philip Gourevitch on Northern Ireland’s Tenuous Peace

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On this week’s podcast, Keefe and Philip Gourevitch join Amy Davidson to talk about the aftermath of the Troubles and the path to peace in Northern Ireland.
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Chinese Translation

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Amelia Lester hosts Evan Osnos and Peter Hessler. They discuss the pros and cons of translating ones work into Chinese.
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How Hardcore Conquered New York

Monday, March 02, 2015

On this week’s Out Loud, Kelefa Sanneh joins David Haglund, the literary editor of newyorker.com, and Sarah Larson, a cultural reporter for the Web site, to discuss hardcore music and its history. Sanneh, who wrote about how the movement conquered New York for the magazine this week, says that hardcore started out as “both an elaboration and intensification of what punk rock was trying to do, and also kind of a refutation of it.” Sanneh, Haglund, and Larson discuss the ambiguous politics of the hardcore scene, listen to songs by bands such as Bad Brains and Agnostic Front, and trace how hardcore later fused with metal, hip-hop, and other genres. New York hardcore, Sanneh says, is a “genre that at birth seemed like a dead end, and then has turned out to have this really interesting afterlife.”
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Office Life

Monday, February 09, 2015

The New Yorker recently said farewell to its office in Times Square, and moved to a new home at 1 World Trade Center. In the magazine, Nick Paumgarten wrote of the "shrine of exotic booze," the "Cornell-box assemblage of promotional doodads," and other keepsakes that were uncovered while the magazine's staff purged and packed. On Out Loud, he joins Emily Nussbaum, the magazine's TV critic, to discuss the strange items that turned up while they sorted through their old offices, the challenges of writing at work, and the special place that offices occupy in modern culture.
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Psychedelics as Therapy

Monday, February 02, 2015

In the nineteen-fifties and sixties, researchers explored the therapeutic effects of LSD on alcoholism, depression, and a number of other conditions. Then the counterculture came along, LSD became a recreational drug, and the research dried up. In this week's magazine, Michael Pollan writes about a new wave of researchers who are using hallucinogenic drugs to help terminally ill cancer patients cope with the fear of death. On Out Loud, Pollan joins host Amelia Lester, the executive editor of newyorker.com, to discuss the history of psychedelics research, the difference between a recreational psychedelic journey and a therapeutic one, and why he finds the effects of these drugs so intriguing. Whereas we don't typically trust the insights we have when we're drunk or dreaming, Pollan says, patients who take hallucinogens report having "a sturdy, authoritative experience." "It takes us into an interesting and difficult to navigate intellectual space," he says. "It's very exciting territory."
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The Gay Capital of the Nineteenth Century

Monday, January 26, 2015

Recently in the magazine, Alex Ross wrote about the little known history of gay rights in Germany in the late nineteen and early twentieth century. He joins Amelia Lester on this week’s Out Loud podcast to discuss how many of the ideas that we consider foundational to the modern gay-rights movement were first articulated in Germany more than a hundred years ago, and why this period is often overlooked. “German culture over the last couple centuries is so often seen through the lens of Hitler, of the Nazi period,” he says. “We tend to omit aspects of the story that don’t fit that narrative. And this astonishingly progressive movement around gay rights is an example of something that just doesn’t fit our stereotype.”​
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The Controversial Satire of Michel Houellebecq

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

In this week’s magazine, Adam Gopnik writes about the controversial French satirist Michel Houellebecq, whose work has been derided as racist and obscene but whose books sell well in France and have been translated into many languages. Houellebecq has been in the spotlight recently not only because of the release of his latest novel, “Submission,” which imagines French society under Sharia law, but because the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo featured a caricature of Houellebecq on its cover at the time the publication was attacked by radical Islamist gunmen earlier this month. On this week’s episode of Out Loud, Gopnik joins Michael Agger, the culture editor of newyorker.com, to discuss Houellebecq’s career and the common misunderstandings of his work. “It’s completely off the mark to imagine Houellebecq as a liberal critic of Islam,” Gopnik argues. “He is a reactionary critic of liberalism.”
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Play and Parenting at KidZania

Monday, January 12, 2015

In this week’s magazine, Rebecca Mead writes about KidZania, a company that operates giant children’s play centers resembling miniature cities. Rather than escape into a fantasy world, at KidZania children take jobs, purchase items branded by corporate sponsors, pay taxes, and even run a legal system. On this week’s Out Loud, Mead joins Michael Agger, the culture editor of newyorker.com, along with the staff writer Nick Paumgarten, to discuss KidZania’s unusual approach to play. They discuss the parenting and educational philosophies behind various forms of kids’ entertainment, the challenge of finding safe play spaces for children that offer real freedom, and some of the disconcerting aspects of the KidZania model. Like a Vegas casino, Paumgarten says, “on the one hand, you’re impressed by the verisimilitude; on the other it’s spooky and cheesy.”
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Teju Cole’s Favorite Things

Monday, January 05, 2015

The writer and photographer Teju Cole recently wrote in the magazine about his favorite movie, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Red.” On this week's Out Loud podcast, he joins Michael Agger, the culture editor of newyorker.com, to talk about the film and the music, poetry, and art that he revisits over and over again. “For me, the great ideal is a work that stands up to repetition,” he says. “You can have two works that have similar impact on first encounter, but only one of them can contain sustained scrutiny.” Cole also discusses how listening to music changes a person’s experience of a city, his recent trip to the Deep South to explore civil-rights history, and why he finds Switzerland to be an “endlessly fascinating” country.
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Movie Stars on Broadway

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It’s hard to stage a successful Broadway production these days without the draw of a movie star—“The Real Thing,” with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ewan McGregor, and “The Elephant Man,” starring Bradley Cooper, are just a couple of the current productions with Hollywood actors on their marquees. But greatness on film does not always translate to greatness on the stage. On this week’s episode of Out Loud, Hilton Als and Nathan Heller join Amelia Lester to discuss why film actors are drawn to theatre, what their presence indicates about the state of the dramatic arts, and what, exactly, it means for an actor to learn to project. “Often actors confuse it with speaking loudly,” Als says. “But, in fact, it’s a soul response.”
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The Puzzling Promise of Graphene

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

If you’ve heard about graphene, you’ve probably heard that it’s a miracle substance. The only atom-thick material known to man, it seems to also be the lightest, strongest, and most conductive material on earth. Its potential applications seem almost limitless. The only problem, as John Colapinto explained in a recent magazine piece, is that nobody has figured out what to do with it yet. On this week’s Out Loud, Colapinto joins Nicholas Thompson, the editor of newyorker.com, and Vauhini Vara, a business and technology blogger for the site, to discuss the challenges that hyped new technologies face in the marketplace, and whether graphene is likely to live up to its promise.
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For Love of the Ice

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hockey fans make up a small but vocal contingent of The New Yorker’s staff. On this week’s Out Loud podcast, three of the magazine’s most ardent rink rats—Ben McGrath, who recently wrote about the hockey player P. K. Subban; Nick Paumgarten, who plays regularly in a local league; and Adam Gopnik, who is Canadian—join the editor John Bennet to discuss the sport. They talk about how they first encountered hockey and learned to love it, the relationship between hockey and writing, and why, as Bennet puts it, having a child who plays hockey “seems to exacerbates the psychosis that is parenthood.”
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Famous on YouTube

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

In this week’s magazine, Tad Friend writes about the celebrities of YouTube and Vine, who gather millions of fans—and sometimes millions of dollars—with their viral online videos, even if most of us have never heard of them. Friend and Kelefa Sanneh, a staff writer who frequently covers pop culture, join Michael Agger, the culture editor of The New Yorker’s Web site, on this week’s Out Loud podcast to discuss the “Beatlemania-type receptions” of these figures, the economy of YouTube fame, and what the phenomenon reveals about the nature of modern celebrity. Friend says, “In the old world, someone like Kim Kardashian, everyone knew a little bit about her.... In the future, there will be people who are incredibly famous and deeply well known to a small group of people, but not known to everyone else.”
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Growing Up in the Rodeo

Monday, December 01, 2014

In this week’s magazine, Burkhard Bilger writes about the children who compete in rodeo in his home state of Oklahoma. Bull riding is the most dangerous sport in the world, and it’s become even riskier in recent years, as bull breeders have begun selecting for extreme aggression. But in the families Bilger interviewed for his story, little boys as young as three or four years old participate in rodeo events, and begin riding bulls around the age of ten. Bilger and Mark Singer, another staff writer and Oklahoma native, join host Amelia Lester on this week’s Out Loud podcast to discuss the kids who compete in rodeo, the parents who let them do it, and the attraction of trying to ride an angry two-thousand-pound animal. As Bilger describes it, when the kids start out, riding sheep and calves, “it’s like the best bumper-car ride you’ve ever been on. And then what you’re doing is just gradually turning up the volume. Or another metaphor might be the frog in the water that’s getting turned up hotter and hotter until it dies.”
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Elevating Excrement

Monday, November 24, 2014

In this week’s magazine, Emily Eakin reports on fecal transplantation, a medical procedure in which the stool from a healthy person is transferred to the bowel of a sick person to restore the balance of flora in the latter’s gut. On Out Loud, Eakin explains that it’s “a procedure that grew out of desperation”—patients suffering from certain untreatable conditions, such as infection with the superbug C. difficile, formed a D.I.Y. fecal-transplant movement. In a conversation with Nick Thompson, the editor of newyorker.com, Eakin and Alan Burdick—an editor at the magazine, as well as the editor of the Web site’s Elements blog—discuss the science world’s fascination with the microbiome, the F.D.A.’s attempts to regulate the procedure, and the reasons fecal transplantation caught their interest as a story worth reporting. Eakin says, “the notion that stool—something that we associate with aversion and repulsion—was being elevated into a substance that was lifesaving and precious was tremendously appealing.”
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Music in the Age of Spotify

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In this week’s issue of The New Yorker, John Seabrook writes about how the streaming service Spotify is changing the landscape of the music industry. On Out Loud, Seabrook joins Kelefa Sanneh, who also writes frequently about music for the magazine, and Nicholas Thompson, the editor of newyorker.com, to discuss how artists, record companies, and their own listening habits are adapting to the economics of streaming. They discuss how Spotify became the dominant streaming company, why Taylor Swift recently pulled her entire catalogue from the service, and how the industry is likely to evolve as the tech industry and the music business continue to converge. Seabrook says, “The tips of the two continents are just touching. And that is going to be a fascinating, enormous cultural change, conflict, and hopefully synthesis to watch.”
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David Remnick's Reporting on Israel

Monday, November 10, 2014

In this week’s issue of The New Yorker, David Remnick writes about Israel’s new conservative President, Reuven Rivlin, whose support for both a one-state solution and Palestinian civil rights has made him the country’s “most unlikely moralist.” On Out Loud, Remnick joins Sasha Weiss, the literary editor of newyorker.com, to discuss Rivlin’s role in Israeli politics, the evolution of the one-state/two-state debate, and his own experience reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the magazine. “No matter who you are and what you are and what you write, you will be reacted to with enormous emotional force, fury, and often abuse,” Remnick says. “The pitch of the battle is something to behold.”
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