In 2007, Simon Winchester appeared on The Bat Segundo Show to duke it out over San Francisco history. Six years later, the affable Englishman (and now American citizen) has returned to our program for a vivacious conversational rematch. This time around, the stakes have been raised to the national stage. It was great fun chatting with Simon again. We argued over the history of Chicago sanitation, got into maps and diamond hoaxes and one-armed men who climbed rocks. There’s even some continuity with the first show, as I proudly defended Theodore Dehone Judah. I think this particular show illustrates why history is important and worth defending, no matter what your position.

In 2007, Simon Winchester appeared on The Bat Segundo Show to duke it out over San Francisco history. Six years later, the affable Englishman (and now American citizen) has returned to our program for a vivacious conversational rematch. This time around, the stakes have been raised to the national stage. It was great fun chatting with Simon again. We argued over the history of Chicago sanitation, got into maps and diamond hoaxes and one-armed men who climbed rocks. There’s even some continuity with the first show, as I proudly defended Theodore Dehone Judah. I think this particular show illustrates why history is important and worth defending, no matter what your position.

Terry Teachout is to blame for sending me down a YouTube rabbit hole over one lazy weekend. But his biography on Duke Ellington is truly marvelous. I got a chance to chat with Terry for an hour about Duke’s exploitation of Billy Strayhorn, his philandering, and his indelible influence on American music. How influential was Duke? Well, the introductory segment shows specifically how Jimi Hendrix tailored his guitar sound because of Bubber Miley’s solo on “East St. Louis Toodle-oo.”

Terry Teachout is to blame for sending me down a YouTube rabbit hole over one lazy weekend. But his biography on Duke Ellington is truly marvelous. I got a chance to chat with Terry for an hour about Duke’s exploitation of Billy Strayhorn, his philandering, and his indelible influence on American music. How influential was Duke? Well, the introductory segment shows specifically how Jimi Hendrix tailored his guitar sound because of Bubber Miley’s solo on “East St. Louis Toodle-oo.”

I met up with Eleanor Catton while she was in New York to discuss her incredible Booker Award-winning novel, The Luminaries. To our mutual surprise, we ended up chatting for 71 minutes about the golden ratio, reader intentions, Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach, how old newspapers are a highly reliable way of knowing an era, literary authors who moonlight under genre, eccentric forms of tax evasion, and the true impact of history and politics on everyday lives. This novel is truly one of my favorites of the year. But I also know that some readers have had difficulty wrapping their heads around the book’s massive structure. So I’ve prepared an introductory segment which illustrates the dichotomy paradox and offers a few hints on what the book is up to. Eleanor was a delight to talk with. But she’s also someone who any literary person should read at the earliest possible opportunity.

I met up with Eleanor Catton while she was in New York to discuss her incredible Booker Award-winning novel, The Luminaries. To our mutual surprise, we ended up chatting for 71 minutes about the golden ratio, reader intentions, Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach, how old newspapers are a highly reliable way of knowing an era, literary authors who moonlight under genre, eccentric forms of tax evasion, and the true impact of history and politics on everyday lives. This novel is truly one of my favorites of the year. But I also know that some readers have had difficulty wrapping their heads around the book’s massive structure. So I’ve prepared an introductory segment which illustrates the dichotomy paradox and offers a few hints on what the book is up to. Eleanor was a delight to talk with. But she’s also someone who any literary person should read at the earliest possible opportunity.

We tend to associate Norman Mailer with the stabbing of his wife and the disaster of Jack Henry Abbott. But the latest Bat Segundo episode reveals that there’s a great deal more to Mailer. I got the chance to chat with J. Michael Lennon, author of Norman Mailer: A Double Life, to discuss the man’s many conflicts and contradictions. Did you know that Mailer may have been manipulated by the Kennedys? Or that Noam Chomsky factored into the writing of The Armies of the Night? Or that Mailer was into biorhythms? Well, there’s all that and more in this 62 minute program. And in the show’s introduction, I also own up to impetuous words that I wrote about Mailer in 2007.

We tend to associate Norman Mailer with the stabbing of his wife and the disaster of Jack Henry Abbott. But the latest Bat Segundo episode reveals that there’s a great deal more to Mailer. I got the chance to chat with J. Michael Lennon, author of Norman Mailer: A Double Life, to discuss the man’s many conflicts and contradictions. Did you know that Mailer may have been manipulated by the Kennedys? Or that Noam Chomsky factored into the writing of The Armies of the Night? Or that Mailer was into biorhythms? Well, there’s all that and more in this 62 minute program. And in the show’s introduction, I also own up to impetuous words that I wrote about Mailer in 2007.

For the second of two shows devoted to Halloween, we met up with Samira Kawash, the infamous Candy Professor. Did you know that there was once a chocolate bar called the Chicken Dinner? That cigarette companies once considered candy to be a threat to discretionary spending? Or that candy was used by the military for safety purposes? We didn’t either, until we read  Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure. This one hour conversation shows that there’s quite a good deal to our relationship with candy.

For the second of two shows devoted to Halloween, we met up with Samira Kawash, the infamous Candy Professor. Did you know that there was once a chocolate bar called the Chicken Dinner? That cigarette companies once considered candy to be a threat to discretionary spending? Or that candy was used by the military for safety purposes? We didn’t either, until we read  Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure. This one hour conversation shows that there’s quite a good deal to our relationship with candy.

Paul Harding returns to Bat Segundo to discuss his second novel, Enon, pinball bowling, the oneiric morass inside the skull, our national history of religiosity, and John Cheever. But it’s also a fine excuse to offer the first of two thematic shows devoted to Halloween this week. Over the course of a few centuries, prayers for the dead have transformed into less uptight celebrations. But what candor did we lose in the transformation? We discuss this American relationship to grief and impermanence with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author!

Paul Harding returns to Bat Segundo to discuss his second novel, Enon, pinball bowling, the oneiric morass inside the skull, our national history of religiosity, and John Cheever. But it’s also a fine excuse to offer the first of two thematic shows devoted to Halloween this week. Over the course of a few centuries, prayers for the dead have transformed into less uptight celebrations. But what candor did we lose in the transformation? We discuss this American relationship to grief and impermanence with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author!

The incomparable Nicholson Baker returns to Bat Segundo for a special 78 minute conversation. We discuss the Paul Chowder novels. There is quite a bit of music and audio talk, a consideration of Traveling Sprinkler's politics and the difficulty of writing controversial books, vivacious arguments for and against Robin Thicke, a lively dialectic on whether or not Algebra II should be compulsory in today's classrooms, and a vital discussion on alternative terms for certain anatomical areas. This was a tremendously fun conversation. And I'm certain you will enjoy it as much as I did.

The incomparable Nicholson Baker returns to Bat Segundo for a special 78 minute conversation. We discuss the Paul Chowder novels. There is quite a bit of music and audio talk, a consideration of Traveling Sprinkler's politics and the difficulty of writing controversial books, vivacious arguments for and against Robin Thicke, a lively dialectic on whether or not Algebra II should be compulsory in today's classrooms, and a vital discussion on alternative terms for certain anatomical areas. This was a tremendously fun conversation. And I'm certain you will enjoy it as much as I did.

I was delighted to meet Kathryn Davis, author of Duplex, in Central Park, where we talked for more than an hour. Her provocative novel challenges the idea of how we know people through narrative and willfully bends time, space, and consciousness to raise vital questions about existence. And our conversation gets into everything from Leibniz’s notion of the multiverse to Michelangelo Antonioni to the difficulties of existence to the intersection of religion and technology. We even end up geeking out about the wonderful Dudley Moore/Peter Cook film, Bedazzled. Duplex is definitely one of my favorite novels of 2013. This was one of those rare conversations where (no joke) I actually found myself compelled to defend the book the longer I talked with Kathryn. And it is my hope that this conversation helps readers to find new ways of embracing this very fascinating novel.

I was delighted to meet Kathryn Davis, author of Duplex, in Central Park, where we talked for more than an hour. Her provocative novel challenges the idea of how we know people through narrative and willfully bends time, space, and consciousness to raise vital questions about existence. And our conversation gets into everything from Leibniz’s notion of the multiverse to Michelangelo Antonioni to the difficulties of existence to the intersection of religion and technology. We even end up geeking out about the wonderful Dudley Moore/Peter Cook film, Bedazzled. Duplex is definitely one of my favorite novels of 2013. This was one of those rare conversations where (no joke) I actually found myself compelled to defend the book the longer I talked with Kathryn. And it is my hope that this conversation helps readers to find new ways of embracing this very fascinating novel.

Savor Alice Munro’s Nobel win all you like. While you were busy sending flowers and gift baskets to Clinton, Ontario, we were busy putting together quite possibly the most important episode of The Bat Segundo Show we’ve ever produced: a conversation with Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell that discusses The Room, the infamous Tommy Wiseau movie that remains a cultural phenomenon today. In this 35 minute conversation, we learn of the film’s unexpected debt to Patricia Highsmith, learn more about Mr. Wiseau’s mysterious past, and probe into the terror of shooting interminable and deeply disturbing sex scenes.

Savor Alice Munro’s Nobel win all you like. While you were busy sending flowers and gift baskets to Clinton, Ontario, we were busy putting together quite possibly the most important episode of The Bat Segundo Show we’ve ever produced: a conversation with Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell that discusses The Room, the infamous Tommy Wiseau movie that remains a cultural phenomenon today. In this 35 minute conversation, we learn of the film’s unexpected debt to Patricia Highsmith, learn more about Mr. Wiseau’s mysterious past, and probe into the terror of shooting interminable and deeply disturbing sex scenes.

I was fortunate to meet Daniel Woodrell during a recent visit he made to New York City. I have learned since that long form radio conversations with Woodrell appear to be rarer than spotted owl sightings, which is a pity. Because Woodrell is one of our great talents. If you haven’t yet read his masterpiece Tomato Red, I urge you to do so. Our conversation really gets hopping (within minutes) when Woodrell and I both discover that we’re big fans of William Kennedy’s more overlooked novels, but it also gets into the Ozark vernacular, what people get wrong about stew, how you can know all of humanity by living in a small town, Tony Danza’s boxing skills, film noir, real crime and tough guy cliches, and Woodrell’s Marine experience.

I was fortunate to meet Daniel Woodrell during a recent visit he made to New York City. I have learned since that long form radio conversations with Woodrell appear to be rarer than spotted owl sightings, which is a pity. Because Woodrell is one of our great talents. If you haven’t yet read his masterpiece Tomato Red, I urge you to do so. Our conversation really gets hopping (within minutes) when Woodrell and I both discover that we’re big fans of William Kennedy’s more overlooked novels, but it also gets into the Ozark vernacular, what people get wrong about stew, how you can know all of humanity by living in a small town, Tony Danza’s boxing skills, film noir, real crime and tough guy cliches, and Woodrell’s Marine experience.