Life Stories #24: Nick Flynn

Life Stories: Nick Flynn
photo: Matthieu Bourgeois

In this episode of Life Stories, my podcast series of interviews with memoir writers about their lives and the art of writing memoir, I talk to Nick Flynn about his latest memoir, The Reenactments, which describes (among other things) what it was like to be on the set as his first memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, was turned into the motion picture Being Flynn. (And, of course, we talk about knowing that he was never going to get to keep the original title once the movie got seriously underway…)

The Reenactments also reflects Flynn’s deep interest in the neuroscience of memory, with insights drawn from Antonio Damasio, Vilayanur Ramachandran, David Eagleman, and others. And we talk a bit about the glass flower exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, which Flynn visited as a child and continues to move him as a metaphor for how we try to retain our pasts and carry them over into the present.

Listen to Life Stories #24: Nick Flynn (MP3 file); or download the file by right-clicking (Mac users, option-click).

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28 February 2013 | life stories |

Life Stories #23: Sarah Manguso

Life Stories: Sarah Manguso
photo: Andy Ryan

In this episode of Life Stories, the podcast where I talk to memoir writers about their lives and the art of writing memoir, I reunite with Sarah Manguso, who I first interviewed back in 2008 shortly after the publication of her first memoir, The Two Kinds of Decay. When we met then, she mentioned that the recent death of a close friend was becoming the subject of a potential novel—instead, she’s written a short book (“an elegy,” as it’s billed on the cover) called The Guardians as an elegy to her friend Harris.

We discuss what led Sarah back to non-fiction as she probed her grief, and touch upon the idea of the supernatural as something between metaphor and reality, and I learn about a condition called akathisia that might be described as like restless leg syndrome all over your body—a condition that turns out to be a frequent side effect of certain anti-psychotic medications and which may have contributed to Harris’s condition in the hours before his suicide. I should mention that this conversation was conducted “in the field,” as it were; though the noise removal software made a pretty big difference, you’ll still hear the occasional snatches of music in the background. (The Tom Waits is pretty unmistakable.)

Listen to Life Stories #23: Sarah Manguso (MP3 file); or download the file by right-clicking (Mac users, option-click).

27 February 2013 | life stories |

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