Past Shows

Prison Playwrights

Prison time can be the strangest interval in a long life: it is experienced, year by year, as a slow-burning hell on earth, often revalued later as productive, enlightening, redemptive turn-around time. Chris Hedges has ...

Franzen Comes Alive

Jonathan Franzen might just be the last of the fine-grained, big-book portraitists of “the way Middle America lives”—specially the intimate deceptions that family relations are made of. Franzen is a realist with an edgy American ...

Thoroughly Modern Mozart

Who else could be said to make you smarter, just listening to the sound of his music? Only Mozart, that we know. For 300-and-some years now, he has set the standard for whatever lies beyond ...

Mann the Magician

Thomas Mann was one of those cultural giants the world doesn’t seem to make anymore—artists with authority, almost as big as their countries, at the level of Mark Twain, say, Voltaire, or Emerson! In his ...

Moonshot Economics

It’s hard not to notice that we’re flunking tests, right and left, and running out of strategies against global-size troubles. COVID, we said, was our test for the age of viruses. At summer’s end the ...

Tragic Architecture

Those twin towers of the World Trade Center wrote two epic stories into the skyline of Manhattan: rise and fall. Most of us saw the hellscape of fire and smoke in the fall of the ...

The Joy and Genius of Erroll Garner

This show first aired on December 17, 2020. Erroll Garner, the jazz pianist, is undergoing an upward revaluation of the sort that artists dream of: a reputational transition forty-some years after he died. In his ...

The End of the War

The war for Afghanistan is over: the Taliban won in a walk. We’re shocked, more than surprised, but then what? Is this our American empire at sundown we’re seeing? And how would we feel about that? ...

Etcetera

August 12, 2018

V. S. Naipaul’s ‘Gloomy Clarity’ about Africa,...

This interview with V.S. Naipaul was released October 25, 2010. We are re-posting the podcast on the occasion of the author’s death Saturday. V. S. Naipaul, in the winter of his long writing life, doesn’t ...
June 6, 2019

Tiananmen Square and China’s 1980s

China in the 1980s can sound like a Paradise Lost—paradise crushed by tanks on Tiananmen Square 30 years ago, paradise erased by massacre and state propaganda ever since, an unmarked memory hole. Except that people ...
June 14, 2018

Two Guys Walk Into a Summit in...

From “fire and fury” to a “terrific relationship” in less than a year sound like a happy turn in the Trump-Kim dance around nukes and North Korea. Better news coming is implied in the Singapore ...
March 29, 2018

Van Morrison’s Cosmic Accident

In the annals of rock music albums, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is one of a kind. In an earthy medium, it’s a masterpiece of abstraction.  Indecipherable. Irresistible. Influential. Accidental, it seemed, from the first licks ...
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