A real person? As in a REAL person? The cheek of it!
This month we're looking at great (as in bold, irreverent, inventive, insightful...) examples of authors using real historical individuals as overt basis for their characters. We're not talking vaguely inspired by, but names and all, although - as we will see - a name can be deceiving. How much is ever real in fiction? And how much is ever made up?
Olivia Laing, author of art-memoir gems such as The Lonely City and The Trip to Echo Spring, joins us to talk about her first novel, Crudo, who uses the persona of artist/writer Kathy Acker as her narrator.
Now take a look at our Magpies of Fiction reading list
Autumn is here and we've had a busy summer indeed. At the end of July, a few members of the Mr B's team set off to sell books at WOMAD festival, where we built a tent, saw an array of fruit-shaped hats, and interviewed some fantastic authors, among them debut novelist Kim Sherwood. Her incredible first book "Testament", winner of the Bath Novel Award, left us thinking about the hazy territory between private and public in times of upheaval, be it because of a missing child, the loss of work, or the horrors of war. Recorded this past summer, Kim Sherwood talks about her journey of research into legacies of the Holocaust in Hungary, and the beginnings of 'Testament'. In the latter part of the podcast, Sam and Jess talk about some of their recent favourites.
Now take a look at our Worlds Turned Upside Down reading list
When it comes to addictions, books and coffee may not be among the more serious, but they're definitely cravings which abound in the Mr B's team. Inspired by the publication of Smoking Kills by Antoine Laurain, we gathered a little stack of moving, surprising and off-kilter writing on addiction. Listen to Jess and Lucinda as they take you from sleazy Los Angeles dives to Hemingway's letters, then hear Antoine Laurain chat to us about his own writing routines. With bonus material in French!
Now take a look at our Writing and Addictions reading list
Borrowing the title from the fabulous Jeanette Winterson novel from 1992, Jess and Lottie present a choice of books which make the human body strange and unfamiliar. Tattooed bodies, fed and starved bodies, bodies seen-through and examined, you'll find them all within these pages - in areas as varied as those of forensic science and a YA adventure. Our special guest this month is Jack Hartnell, art historian and author of a fascinating exploration of medieval views of the human body.
Now take a look at our Written in the Body reading list
In May 2018's podcast we look at the intrigues of ecosystems, and the books that delve right in to them. Which fury or winged inhabitants really belong in our cities, and who's to say if they don't? What happened to European rabbits under Henry VIIIs reign and do sea gulls qualify as wilderness? Also featuring an interview with the award-winning novelist Aminatta Forna about her new novel 'Happiness'.
In March Nic sat down with two eager learners to chat about their experience of education and what going to school is good for. First up is the author Tara Westover, whose memoir, about growing up as the youngest child to Mormon survivalist parents in Idaho, is out in the UK this year. We also welcome our youngest guest yet to the podcast: Nic and Juliette’s 8-year-old daughter Leah.
Now take a look at our School Days reading list
The sight of a magic tree, or thorns and thistles, on a book cover will immediately catch the attention of a few the Mr B's team members. We kick off February's podcast by chatting to the poet, writer and vlogger Jen Campbell about her most recent short story collection 'The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night'. Booksellers Emma Smith and Amy Coles recommend their favourite reads where old stories are given a modern touch.
A note of warning for this one - the sound quality in the first half of the podcast is not up to our usual standards, but we really wanted to share this episode with you and hope you'll bare with us. It gets much better in the second half! Next month we'll be back to our audio-technical glory of yore.
Hosted by Jessica Johannesson. Music: 'Sirens Island' by The Bookshop Band.
Now take a look at our Fairy Tales in Disguise reading list
Welcome to our first podcast of 2018. One of the last events we hosted in 2017 was an evening with the neuroscientist Adrian Owen, whose research over the past decades has been dedicated to patients diagnosed as Permanent Vegetative State. His hugely moving and informative memoir Into the Grey Zone invites us to ask the most crucial questions about what it means to be conscious, but it also inspired us to think about how other authors have tackled ideas about - consciousness, from the realm of artificial intelligence to a small child's eerie reality.
Hosted by Jessica Johannesson.
Music: 'Declaration' by The Bookshop Band.
Now take a look at our 'What it's Like to Be' reading list
Are you the kind of person who will spontaneously start chatting to the passenger next to you on the train? Or are you more comfortable reading about personality clashes and matches made in heaven in the safety of a book page? Jess, Nic and Lottie dig up some of their more extraordinary and thought-provoking 'odd encounter' reads. We also talk to the prize-winning author Julian Sayarer about his experiences hitchhiking through the US, and about the fantastic book that came out of it.
Find our Odd Encounters reading list here.
September 28th is National Poetry Day 2017. Listen to Jess and Lucinda dive into poetry which explores this year’s theme, Freedom, from the freedom of a lunch hour in Japan, to that of using two languages within one poem. We also hear from poets Marchant Barron, Beth Calverley and Rachel McCrum, whose work offer widely different takes on what it means to seek freedom. If you’ve been meaning to get back to reading poetry, this is the episode for you.
Hosted by Jessica Johannesson, with music by The Bookshop Band
Poems and collections mentioned in this episode:
‘A Prison Evening’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz from Being Alive ed. Neil Astley
'Wild Geese' by Mary Oliver, from New and Selected Poems
'Tanglefoot' and 'Hear This', both by Marchant Barron
'A Lesson in Drawing' by Nazir Kabani
'The Tiger who came to Tea' by Beth Calverley
Ode to Bob by Helen Mort, from No Map Could Show Them
‘The Marunouchi Building’ by Nakahara Chúya from The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse transl. by Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite
The Tijuana Book of the Dead by Luis Alberto Urrea
Vaginaland by Jen Campbell
'Last of the Late Great Gorilla-Suit Actors' by Patricia Lockwood from Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals
'My Underwear was Made of Iron' by Rachel McCrum, from The First Blast to Awaken Women Degenerate