Other People

Happy 100th Episode, Other People!

A year ago, Brad Listi, writer and founder of the online lit blog The Nervous Breakdown, was about to launch Other People, a twice-weekly podcast featuring in-depth interviews with notable authors.  Today, he’s on the verge of airing the show’s 100th episode to thousands of devoted listeners worldwide.

McSweeney’s calls the program “funny, pointed, and thought-provoking.” Filmmaker magazine finds it “revelatory.” HTML GIANT calls it “self-conscious and completely open.” And this fair publication calls it “easily one of the best podcasts on the web.

To celebrate the occasion, Mr. Listi has compiled a mix tape of songs related to the writing life for your entertainment pleasure.

1.)  SONG TO LISTEN TO WHILE TRYING TO WRITE A SOMEWHAT OPERATIC GANGLAND-STYLE EXECUTION SCENE THAT WILL PROBABLY HAPPEN IN SLOW-MOTION IF YOUR NOVEL EVER GETS MADE INTO A MOVIE:  “SCENES FROM AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT” – BILLY JOEL

You have decided to take this long and schmaltzy ode to mediocre wine and use it to set the mood for a mafia-style homicide.  Brenda and Eddie may have been the popular steadies and the king and the queen of the prom, but they are now lying facedown in a pool of their own blood, amid shattered bottles of cheap rosé and upturned plates of fettucini alfredo.

2.)  SONG TO LISTEN TO WHILE ATTEMPTING TO WRITE A BLOCKBUSTER HILLBILLY VERSION OF FIFTY SHADES OF GREY:  “SHAMELESS” – GARTH BROOKS

Mr. Brooks isn’t the only one who’s feeling shameless right about now.  After bearing witness to the astonishing sales numbers of E.L. James’ “mommy porn” trilogy, you’ve decided to officially scrap your Faulknerian ambitions and instead devote your energies to a BDSM masterpiece set in the wilds of Appalachian hill country.  The world hasn’t experienced forced anal like this since Deliverance—and you’ve got the novel to prove it.

3.)  SONG TO LISTEN TO WHILE PROCRASTINATING ON FACEBOOK INSTEAD OF WORKING ON YOUR SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL COLLECTION OF LINKED SHORT STORIES:  “WISE UP” – AIMEE MANN

Look at you:  scrolling through a stranger’s vacation photos and playing Words With Friends instead of addressing the myriad plot issues plaguing your latest depressing tale of a disaffected loner in a world overrun by technology.  Pathetic, isn’t it?

4.)  SONG TO LISTEN TO WHILE MAKING THE “WALK OF SHAME” AFTER HAVING DRUNKEN CASUAL SEX WITH A TOTAL STRANGER YOU MET AT A POETRY READING:  “DESPERADO” – THE EAGLES

Five hours ago, it seemed like a good idea, a spontaneous exercise of your tired spirit and a delicious bohemian idyll.  But now, after waking up naked on a dirty futon amid a scattering of Buddhist prayer beads, you have been forced to reconsider.  Sometimes a dark night of the soul can happen in broad daylight, and you, my friend, are state’s evidence.

5.)  SONG TO LISTEN TO WHILE STARING AT YOUR FLASHING CURSOR:  “FITTER HAPPIER” – RADIOHEAD

As you sit there watching your cursor disappear and reappear endlessly, over and over again, try to imagine your heart beating in a synchronous, steady rhythm.  Then, as you do that, take a moment to contemplate the number 3,027,456,000.  This is the number of times a heart will beat over an 80-year lifespan at an average rate of 72 beats-per-minute.  Next:  consider the notion that your cursor is mocking you

6.)  SONG TO LISTEN TO WHILE BIRDWATCHING WITH JONATHAN FRAZEN:  “SONGBIRD” – KENNY G.

Nothing sets the mood for amateur ornithology quite like the high-lonesome sound of a smooth-jazz soprano saxophone.  As you wander the woody terrain of Central Park with the current leading man of American letters, try your best not to feel superior to the Internet. (You will fail.)  Then, later, as a yellow warbler and a tufted titmouse conduct a spontaneous ballet in the branches above you, pause for a moment and think to yourself—mockingly—tweet.

7.)  SONG TO LISTEN TO SHORTLY BEFORE GIVING A READING TO THREE PEOPLE, ONE OF WHOM IS YOUR MOM, AT A BARNES & NOBLE BOOKSTORE IN TEMPE, ARIZONA.   “THUNDERSTRUCK” – AC/DC

As you pace the “backstage area” of Barnes & Noble like a caged panther under fluorescent lights, try to remember what it took to get to this moment.  The alarm clock going off at 5 a.m.  The long summer Saturdays at your desk.  The shattered relationships.  The endless rejection letters.  The Adderall addiction.  The pain.  Pause for a moment.  Take a sip from your bottle of lukewarm Dasani spring water.  Turn your gaze to Thomas, the Barnes & Noble (Tempe) Author Relations Supervisor, who is really just another cashier.  When he smiles and asks you if you’re “ready to roll,” give him a quasi-homicidal look that says:  I’ve been ready for this my whole life, motherfucker.

8.)  SONG TO LISTEN TO WHILE SHARING PHOTOS OF YOUR DOG VIA SOCIAL MEDIA IN A SOMEWHAT SUBCONSCIOUS ATTEMPT TO MAKE YOUR AUTHOR BRAND SEEM MORE SYMPATHETIC:  “I WANNA BE YOUR DOG” – IGGY POP

This works even better if your dog is sick with, say, cancer, or just had some kind of surgery and has to wear “the cone.”  The cone equals book sales, so it might be a good idea to have one on hand, even if your dog isn’t sick or injured.  Take pictures of your dog in the cone, with your novel placed conveniently in the background.  Then, caption the photos with things like “Recovering from cancer” and “So very, very sad.”

9.)  SONG TO LISTEN TO WHILE CONTEMPLATING MORTALITY IN THE MONTANA WILDERNESS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF XANAX:  “NOT DARK YET” – BOB DYLAN

You have decided, in the waning days of summer, to go camping alone, retreating to a remote wilderness, where you now sit Indian-style on the shores of a glacial pond, attempting to write in your journal.  It is almost dusk, or thereabouts, and the Xanax that you took at midday is starting to wear off.  Life, you realize, is extremely short.  But everything, you remind yourself, is ultimately connected.  The sun, the moon, and the stars all live inside your body.  (Right?)  Your heart is currently murmuring inside of your chest cavity. (Right?)  But for how long, exactly?  (Jesus.)  And for what specific reason?  And will you ever win a Pushcart Prize?  Too bad there’s no wifi connection out here.  Also, you are nude.

10.)  SONG TO LISTEN TO WHILE DRIVING AROUND SUBURBAN CONNECTICUT IN A 1997 TOYOTA CAMRY ROUGHLY 24 HOURS AFTER MOVING BACK IN WITH YOUR PARENTS AT THE AGE OF 27:  “IT WAS A GOOD DAY” – ICE CUBE

John Cheever built a grand literary legacy writing about places like this, finding tragedy in the cul-de-sacs, in the shopping malls and on the golf courses.  Flannery O’Connor lived with her mother, didn’t she?  She had lupus.  Jack Kerouac lived with his mother, too. He drank himself to death and died of an internal hemorrhage.  You do not have lupus, nor do you have cirrhosis of the liver.  You have an MFA in Poetry, bitch.  And an anger management problem.  You also have $42,000 in escalating student loan debt.  You contain multitudes.

 

 

 

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—Other People can be found here, here, or here.

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