Browse Episodes

238. Irony, Art, and the Art of Irony

Wayne is solo today and he talks about a concept that he and his co-host Jennia D’Lima were discussing recently—important in approaching any kind of fiction. Irony. What exactly is it? Why is it important to be aware of as you read fiction, or frankly experience any art form? And how can an appreciation of irony help you perhaps even enjoy a novel that you might otherwise despise or avoid outright?

David Cross

Ricky Gervais

 A Dictionary of Critical Theory, 2nd ed., by Ian Buchanan (Oxford, 2018) 

236. Writing and Teaching and Learning about the World

My guest on today’s episode is Leigh Shulman, who writes and who teaches writing. She’s also led an interesting life, part of it instigated by 9/11, after which she left the US with her family and travelled.

Leigh's Website

Leigh's Course

235. The Professor, the Curious Podcaster, and the Best Novel Ever Written

My guest on today’s episode is Professor Stephen Blackwell, who teaches at the University of Tennessee Knoxville in the US. His scholarship focuses on the work of the great Russian-born writer, Vladimir Nabokov, who spent much of his life in the United States and died in 1977 in Switzerland. Professor Blackwell was kind enough to indulge me in a discussion of a novel that Nabokov published in 1962, called Pale Fire. I have of course read only a tiny percentage of all the books written and a tiny percentage of all the literary fiction ever written, but for me this is the best work of the art of literary fiction I have ever read. I can’t even imagine anything being better. And please especially take a look at the show notes for this episode, where I include mention of some of the modern references to Nabokov that I forgot to ask about during our conversation.

Prof. Blackwell’s Profile

Pale Fire (1st ed.)

Pale Fire and Nabokov These Days: Modern References

  • The album Lolita Nation by Game Theory, led by the late Scott Miller (“the album is a masterpiece, by the way, and the artist is on Nabokov’s level”)
  • Other bands and artists with Nabokovian titles: Picnic, Lightning; White Widowed Male; Pale Fire
  • Molly Young, “The Essential Vladimir Nabokov,” New York Times, October 15, 2023
  • Pale Fire shows up in Blade Runner 2049

234. You Can Start It, Write It, and Finish It If …

On today’s episode Jennia D’Lima interviews Tim Vandehey about the book he’s co-written, Swipe: The Science Behind Why We Don’t Finish What We Start. This is “You Can Start It, Write It, and Finish It If …,” episode 234 of the podcast.

Swipe Website

233. Digitizing a 250-Year-Old Dictionary of English

Beth Young is an associate professor in the English department at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida, United States. She is also the coordinator of the ongoing project to digitize the dictionary of English compiled by Samuel Johnson and first published in 1755.

Beth's Profile
Johnson's Dictionary Online

232. Wayne Chats with the Narrator of His Audiobook

Wayne published My Sam Johnson: A Biography for General Readers on October 24, 2023 (in paperback and ebook). The audiobook version, narrated by Veronica Saretsky, was published on the 26th. Wayne chats with Veronica about the process and technicalities of how audiobooks are made. And stay tuned till the end when Veronica reads a snippet of how English was spoken about 11 centuries ago.

Veronica's Website

Wayne's Book