We’ll take laughs whenever we can get them these days, and the comic essayist Samantha Irby provides a lot of them. “Wow, No Thank You” is the latest collection that mines her life for pieces that engage with suffering and uncertainty but do so with a wildly funny spirit.
“I think it’s natural for me to have kind of a harrowing thing and to immediately want to put it on paper,” Irby says on this week’s podcast, “because I feel like that’s how I process it the best, and then if someone else is going through kind of the same thing, I’m like, ‘Well, maybe this will serve someone else.’ I think what I’m really saying is that I have zero plans, and when things strike me that I feel like I can squeeze 5,000 words out of them, then I sit down and write it.”
Jon Meacham visits the podcast this week to talk about his latest Long View column for the Book Review, which addresses a very timely subject — leadership in times of crisis. Meacham talks about three books which cover intense crises, like the Cuban missile crisis, and each of the books covers a very contained period of time.
“People like me spend too much of our time saying ‘the day, the week, the year that changed everything,’ right?” Meacham says. “That’s the most commonly used subtitle in publishing. But as Henry Kissinger used to say, it also has the virtue of being true. I love history — I try to write history — that puts you in the moment.”
Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Gregory Cowles and John Williams talk about what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host.
Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:
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