S. 2 EP. 4 "MY, HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED"

This week we’re discussing the seismic tremors and tectonic shifts coursing through our culture in the last century – so much so that any knowledgeable person with any historic interest can hardly catch their breath.

As the great Lenny Bruce once said: “The 'what should be' never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no 'what should be,' there is only what is.”

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S. 2 EP. 3 THE POLITICAL MIND

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”  We take this Sunday to discuss the political mind.

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S.2 EP.2 INSIDE THE GREAT WIDE OPEN

This week we’re discussing the ritualistic habits and ornamental traditions of the literary life. Every writer has a specific pattern to which they construction their literary tomes, and Douglas Kennedy is no different. Some hide from the world. Some seek inspiration through travel. Kennedy found himself immersed in “The Great Wide Open” a novel that to nearly three years to hit the book shelves. I got a chance to sit down with Douglas Kennedy in Manhattan to ask him how this novel came to fruition.

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S.2 EP. 1 HOW WE LIVE NOW

Just in the last two months – America has experienced a great shift to the left. For the last two years, the Republican House and Senate have entrenched our culture in retrograde policies and astoundingly isolationist behavior. From the border wall, to the travel ban, to the hostile Grand Guignol theatrics of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings, the country is more divided than ever.

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How We Live Now
EP. 60 THEMES INSIDE

All works of literature possess a river of thematic concern flowing beneath the written word. Some philosophers have expounded that authors themselves work to uncover and discover their own well-hidden secrets and foibles layered deep within the narrative structure of their work.       

The writer Alexei Panshin writes: “A book isn't a single, static thing with one unarguable meaning. Each reader who comes to it brings his own special knowledge, habits and attitudes. Each reader reads a different book. Each reader imagines a different story.”

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EP. 59 HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL PT. 2

This week, we’re continuing our two-part series titled, aptly, How To Write Novel. Brave title I know. But I’d put my good money on listening to those that have crossed that literary line. To try is noble. To do it once is heroic. To sustain a career – That’s something I’ll turn over to someone who has published over 21 books during the length of their career. Our dialogue with Douglas Kennedy continues.

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EP. 58 HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL PT. 1

The Pulitzer Prize winning author Eudora Welty wrote this about the craft of a novel: “The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it and offer it to the reader. The essence will not be, of course, the same thing as the raw material; it is not even of the same family of things. The novel is something that never was before and will not be again.”

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EP. 57 THE FRAGILITY

The great Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz wrote: “The partition separating life from death is so tenuous. The unbelievable fragility of our organism suggests a vision on a screen: a kind of mist condenses itself into a human shape, lasts a moment and then scatters.”

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How We Live Now
EP. 56 THE COMPLEXITIES OF THE HEART

The famed psychologist Esther Perel wrote this about modern relationships: “Today, we turn to one person to provide what an entire village once did: a sense of grounding, meaning, and continuity. At the same time, we expect our committed relationships to be romantic as well as emotionally and sexually fulfilling. Is it any wonder that so many relationships crumble under the weight of it all?”

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EP. 55 ON THE NOTION OF VENGEANCE

No one with any modicum of awareness has escaped the feeling of anger or desire for vengeance against some form of perceived slight or insult. One can even argue that to be a rational, present human being, engaged in any form of political, social, or familial conversation – will find themselves steamed with some form of negative emotion – one that we’ll only confess to our most intimate of partners.

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EP. 54 AND SO LITTLE TIME...

This week I turned our dialogue to a much more sensitive topic – a personal one. Just at the time of this interview, Douglas Kennedy got word that there was one less author in the world. The news was sudden, though, not unexpected. This author, the acclaimed novelist and intellectual Philip Kerr, passed away in March of 2018. An esteemed author of 41 novels, Kerr was an astute observer of the human condition and a lock-tight fictional historian – capturing time and place as no other author of his time could.

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How We Live Now
EP. 53 THE STATE OF THE UNION

Defying her radically political parents, Hannah determines that a life with a mundane but sturdy husband with a good job in a small New England town is her life’s future. But much like Madame Bovary, who is the behind the scenes inspiration for State of the Union, Hannah finds herself embroiled in an affair – and one that she quickly sweeps under the rug. Kennedy explains.  

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EP. 52 WHAT IS YOUR ARGUMENT?

No one will openly tell you how absolutely difficult it is to stay not only relevant in our ever-changing climate – but how to stay careered, and constantly producing interesting and creative works during a lifetime. Most of these so-called job skills can’t be learned in a classroom or seminar – they must be earned by hard work and a special kind of dedication to the craft. Douglas Kennedy and I both share an affinity for this subject – each of us sharing a history of facing rejection and dealing with the critics. This in fact goes back to Kennedy’s early days as a writer, and trying, unsuccessfully, to impress some members of the supposed elite at his University’s literary journal.

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EP. 51 THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACE

During my most recent conversation with Douglas Kennedy, I read to him a fascinating little quote by the writer Douglas Coupland that I thought Kennedy might find interesting. He wrote: “We are all of us born with a letter inside us, and that only if we are true to ourselves, may we be allowed to read it before we die.” This was his response.

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EP. 50 A CINEMATIC CHARM

I got a chance to sit down with Douglas Kennedy at his home in the city of Paris to discuss our mutual love of the silver screen. We talked about the current state of cinema, the blasé repetition of comic books films and the disastrous remakes. We arrived at the topic of film criticism, and Douglas reminded me that he writes a column for the journal “America”, edited by Francois Busnel, of film criticism.

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EP. 49 THE RADIO DAYS

Everyone starts somewhere. And often times, the place we begin set us on a path that leads to the unknown future – and sometimes, if we’re lucky, to the career we were always meant to achieve.

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How We Live Now
EP. 48 OUR CURRENT REVOLUTION

These days social media binds us together in a new and collusive way – we can vent and receive the vents of anyone digitally connected in our bubble. And each bubble has its own narrative – distinct and clear. The cultural mood is one of divisiveness and disruption. It is safe to say that we are living in perilous times – or at least, if not any more perilous than other epochs in history – these days seems as if there is an urgency of perilousness.  

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EP. 47 THE INSIDE INFORMATION

It's the question of the day: How do you become a writer in our modern world? Young artists face extraordinary competition not only within their own artistic fields, but also with a society that is on the brink of radical financial inequality, rising rents, and little to no job security. How in the world is anyone going to create anything meaningful under these conditions?  

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EP. 46 JOURNALISM AT ITS FINEST

Citizen journalism is on the rise – but just how much of it factual, remaining both unbiased and highly sourced. Classic broadcast journalism is on the edge of extinction – and websites appear almost daily, vying for the eye of the viewer. 

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How We Live Now
EP. 45 THE TYRANNY OF THE SCREEN

How much has the influence of technology destroyed the classic forms of educational and cultural exploration? Has this technological revolution stunted our growth as readers? We have lost our quiet spaces – trading them in for a constant connection to the world.   

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