Gays Reading

Upcoming/Up & Coming feat. Solomon J. Brager, Oisín McKenna, and August Thompson

July 02, 2024 Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Solomon J. Brager, Oisin McKenna, August Thompson Season 2 Episode 62
Upcoming/Up & Coming feat. Solomon J. Brager, Oisín McKenna, and August Thompson
Gays Reading
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Gays Reading
Upcoming/Up & Coming feat. Solomon J. Brager, Oisín McKenna, and August Thompson
Jul 02, 2024 Season 2 Episode 62
Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Solomon J. Brager, Oisin McKenna, August Thompson

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Jason and Brett talk to debut authors Solomon J. Brager (Heavyweight), Oisín McKenna (Evenings & Weekends), and August Thompson (Anyone's Ghost). They explore themes like inherited trauma and family history, queer identity, and the complexities of growing up. And they talk about some favorite snacks and date stories. 

Solomon J. Brager is a cartoonist and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Their comics and research have appeared in The Nib, Jewish Currents, ArtForum, World War III Illustrated, Pinko Magazine, Refract Journal, and The New Inquiry, among other publications. They hold a PhD from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, and teach as adjunct faculty in history, media, and gender studies.

Oisín McKenna was born in Dublin and lives in London. He was awarded the Next Generation Bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland to write Evenings and Weekends and it was developed with further funding from Arts Council England. Evenings and Weekends has been awarded a 2022 London Writers Award, and in 2017, Oisín was named in the Irish Times as one of the best-spoken word artists in the country. He has written and performed four theatre shows, including ADMIN, an award-winning production at Dublin Fringe 2019, and has written for outlets including the Irish Times on issues such as gentrification and the alienation of Dublin’s youth. 

August Thompson was born and raised in the middle of nowhere, New Hampshire, before he attended middle school in West LA. After surviving California optimism, he moved to NYC for his bachelor’s, studied in Berlin, and taught English in Spain for two years. He recently received his MFA at New York University’s creative writing program as a Goldwater Fellow.

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BOOKS!
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading

MERCH!
Purchase your Gays Reading podcast merchandise HERE!
https://gaysreading.myspreadshop.com/

FOLLOW!
@gaysreading | @jasonblitman | @bretts.book.stack

CONTACT!
gaysreading@gmail.com

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Jason and Brett talk to debut authors Solomon J. Brager (Heavyweight), Oisín McKenna (Evenings & Weekends), and August Thompson (Anyone's Ghost). They explore themes like inherited trauma and family history, queer identity, and the complexities of growing up. And they talk about some favorite snacks and date stories. 

Solomon J. Brager is a cartoonist and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Their comics and research have appeared in The Nib, Jewish Currents, ArtForum, World War III Illustrated, Pinko Magazine, Refract Journal, and The New Inquiry, among other publications. They hold a PhD from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, and teach as adjunct faculty in history, media, and gender studies.

Oisín McKenna was born in Dublin and lives in London. He was awarded the Next Generation Bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland to write Evenings and Weekends and it was developed with further funding from Arts Council England. Evenings and Weekends has been awarded a 2022 London Writers Award, and in 2017, Oisín was named in the Irish Times as one of the best-spoken word artists in the country. He has written and performed four theatre shows, including ADMIN, an award-winning production at Dublin Fringe 2019, and has written for outlets including the Irish Times on issues such as gentrification and the alienation of Dublin’s youth. 

August Thompson was born and raised in the middle of nowhere, New Hampshire, before he attended middle school in West LA. After surviving California optimism, he moved to NYC for his bachelor’s, studied in Berlin, and taught English in Spain for two years. He recently received his MFA at New York University’s creative writing program as a Goldwater Fellow.

Gays Reading is sponsored by Audible. Get a FREE 30-day trial by visiting audibletrial.com/gaysreading

BOOKS!
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading

MERCH!
Purchase your Gays Reading podcast merchandise HERE!
https://gaysreading.myspreadshop.com/

FOLLOW!
@gaysreading | @jasonblitman | @bretts.book.stack

CONTACT!
gaysreading@gmail.com

Jason Blitman:

She was so aggressive, Siri, today.

Brett Benner:

Siri was,

Jason Blitman:

maybe my, uh, sound a little too loud. Recording in progress.

Brett Benner:

did you try again? Did you hear that? Oh my God.

Jason Blitman:

Was that your phone or your, your watch?

Brett Benner:

That was my phone responding, which is weird because I have you in my headset. So I don't

Jason Blitman:

God. I was, I was so

Brett Benner:

You were so loud.

Jason Blitman:

why, that's why I said I didn't get that. Can you try again? Because I was so loud.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, he didn't get that. He was like, yell at me again. He likes it.

Jason Blitman:

Sorry, sir. Yes,

Brett Benner:

Wait, do you know what I found out the other day? I was, I was, um, uh, you know, I have a, I take, you know, this, I take French class once a week. I take it for years and I sometimes do it remote. My teacher had been sick, so he sent me a message in French and I,

Jason Blitman:

oui, oui.

Brett Benner:

the message came up in French, of course, but it wasn't the normal Siri voice. It was like a Frenchman's voice.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, how funny.

Brett Benner:

I was like, is this a new thing? But suddenly it was like bru and I was like that. It was strange. Anyway,

Jason Blitman:

Welcome to Gay's Reading.

Brett Benner:

The July edition.

Jason Blitman:

July upcoming, up and coming episode. I'm so excited. Um, if you don't follow us on social media, we dropped our whole July lineup. Um, which, after posting, I was mad at myself for not calling it a July nup.

Brett Benner:

Oh, that would've been good. July up. July Up

Jason Blitman:

you could see on our Instagram, Ak is reading our entire July nup.

Brett Benner:

a

Jason Blitman:

like a disease.

Brett Benner:

It really does. And you know what? After they see it, you know what? They won't be a saddle.

Jason Blitman:

so follow us on social media, Ak is reading. Follow us wherever you get your podcasts. And if you like what you're hearing, give us a five star review and tell your friends all about us. And we have three very cool. authors on the show today.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, they are. But like, let's talk really quick about also. What books are dropping? There's a couple

Jason Blitman:

Oh my god, so many books. Yes,

Brett Benner:

I wanted to do shout outs for today liz moore's the god of the woods comes out which we both read and really really liked it in addition Ethan joella's the same bright stars comes out today. I know there's a lot of ethan joella fans out there I don't know if either one of us have read this, but, uh, so check that out.

Jason Blitman:

I know I haven't yet, but I'm, I, you know what, I will say I did, I started reading it a couple of days ago, and it's like, it's lovely. It's gonna be a really great B treat. I haven't had a chance to like, keep going, but I got excited.

Brett Benner:

And the cover looks like a beech tree.

Jason Blitman:

I know, for sure.

Brett Benner:

of covers.

Jason Blitman:

Also coming out today is the world after Alice, by Lauren Aliza green.

Brett Benner:

One of our guests from today, their book lands today, which is Evening and Weekends by Oisin McKenna.

Jason Blitman:

O'Sheen.

Brett Benner:

That's right. Oisin by Oisin McKenna, which is also one of the Barnes and Noble picks for this month as well. So congratulations.

Jason Blitman:

So in order of appearance and release date, we have, Solomon J. Brager and their book Heavyweight, which came out on June 23rd. And then we have Oshin McKenna with his book, Evenings and Weekends, that, as Brett just mentioned, comes out today. And then we have August Thompson and his book, Anyone's Ghost, which comes out next week, July 9th. All of those books and the books that we talk about could be found in our bookshop. org page, which the link to is in our show notes. And at some point I saw that All the Colors of the Dark by Chris Whitaker was sold out in places, and so I don't think it's sold out on bookshops. You could also buy that on the bookshop. org page as well.

Brett Benner:

Amazing.

Jason Blitman:

Amazing. I'm Jason,

Brett Benner:

I'm Brett.

Jason Blitman:

and enjoy this upcoming, up and coming episode of Gays Reading.

https: otter. ai

Brett Benner:

So good.

Jason Blitman:

Mess.

Brett Benner:

Huh. These are my new sweets that I've gotten. You've seen these? Wiley Wallaby. Have you ever had their

Jason Blitman:

I love them, but I've never had the, is

Brett Benner:

This is limited. It's limited. It's lemonade for the summer and hello. Are you listening to our inane, stupid conversation about Wally Wallaby licorice?

Solomon J. Brager:

I'm actually very curious because I love chewy gummy things and there's not that many that I can eat, so I wonder if it has wheat in it.

Brett Benner:

No, you know what? I think, let me see. I'll tell you. It says on it, I think it's completely gluten free.

Solomon J. Brager:

Wow.

Brett Benner:

And hello.

Jason Blitman:

But it's 800 grams of sugar.

Solomon J. Brager:

That's fine. I'm fine with that. Yeah, I think my primary addiction is sugar. My toxic trait is that I I like to take sour gummies and dip them in additional citric acid, which I've heard is not that healthy, but.

Jason Blitman:

Probably not, but that's

Brett Benner:

you know what? Contains, contains wheat and soy. I'm sorry.

Solomon J. Brager:

That's okay.

Jason Blitman:

Anyway Welcome to gaze reading.

Solomon J. Brager:

Thank you.

Jason Blitman:

this is honestly what we love talking about. So

Brett Benner:

it should just be gays eating.

Jason Blitman:

I

Solomon J. Brager:

books and candy is pretty much, yeah, two of my, or food, and you're like, I don't like candy. I like baked goods. I was like, is there anything I don't like? I was like a I was like a never ending story child I forget it was Balthazar Bucks or whatever his name is, where, like, all I wanted to do was, like, literally hide and eat candy and my parents, yeah, and read and often the never ending story. And my parents my dad was on on a very strict probiotic diet and my mother is a personal trainer. And so there was like never candy in the house. I found out as an adult that my mom would drive to the grocery store and buy a box of Oreos and eat them in the car before she came home. And so I would eat like the sugar cubes that they kept for guests. Like it was still in the days where you would put out like sugar cubes when people came over for coffee or whatever. And I would hide under the bed and eat sugar cubes with a flashlight and.

Jason Blitman:

amazing.

Brett Benner:

Did you ever have, how about a sugar and

Jason Blitman:

Bast Bastion Bucks.

Solomon J. Brager:

Ashton, but

Jason Blitman:

In case you were In

Brett Benner:

Is that what it is

Jason Blitman:

case you lost sleep over it, I wanted to make sure you knew.

Solomon J. Brager:

I should really reread that.

Jason Blitman:

I've never read it. I watched the movie when I was a kid and I feel

Brett Benner:

That was traumatizing

Jason Blitman:

it was a little, just overwhelming. But I should revisit it.

Solomon J. Brager:

I think about the Swamp of Sadness a lot. Way too much.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, do you live in the swamp of sadness?

Solomon J. Brager:

Only sometimes, thankfully, but

Jason Blitman:

When you're feeling a certain way, you're just like, you say you're stuck in the swamp of sadness.

Solomon J. Brager:

Totally.

Jason Blitman:

You are our sixth conversation of the week.

Solomon J. Brager:

Oh my god.

Jason Blitman:

So we're like maybe a little slap happy because it's also Friday afternoon for us. But in the short version of the story is in our conversation this morning we were talking about a typo in a galley and the typo said, sad adults,

Solomon J. Brager:

the adult,

Jason Blitman:

sad

Solomon J. Brager:

that adult. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

And we had a whole conversation about what is a sad adult and how we need to get it. Into the zeitgeist. And so a saddle lives in the, what is it? The swamp of sadness.

Brett Benner:

Swamp of Sadness.

Solomon J. Brager:

Yeah. The magical horse Atreyu drowns in the Swamp of Sadness. And I was like and this is like a gender tale, but I was like a never ending story boy and a horse girl as a child, and so I was like, not Atreyu now!

Brett Benner:

But I also think this sounds like an incredible reboot of it, as an adult going to the swamp of sadness or finding out it's real and what that means. Do you know what I mean? And using that as a launch off

Jason Blitman:

Like a retelling of an adult who finds themselves at the swamp of sadness.

Brett Benner:

yes. Like schmigadoon,

Solomon J. Brager:

yeah,

Jason Blitman:

sure.

Brett Benner:

yeah,

Jason Blitman:

should we talk about your book?

Solomon J. Brager:

Yeah, oh my god, you have it, wow.

Jason Blitman:

Duh.

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

We are all holding our copy of Heavyweight by Solomon J. Is it Brager or

Solomon J. Brager:

Brager.

Jason Blitman:

Solomon J. Brager. We are holding our books and we're all sporting great mustaches.

Solomon J. Brager:

True.

Jason Blitman:

We are not a visual medium, but if we were, this would be a really good

Brett Benner:

be very

Jason Blitman:

our

Solomon J. Brager:

true.

Jason Blitman:

What is your elevator pitch for the book?

Solomon J. Brager:

Yeah, so Heavyweight is a book about inheriting a story and then trying to figure out how you relate to that story. So in this case, Heavyweight is the narrative of my great grandparents. escape with my grandfather and his sister from Nazi occupied Europe during World War II. And so I grew up with my great grandmother, Ilse she died when I was in my 20s, and she was our primary family storyteller, and the primary object of her stories was this near mythological, heroic tale of escaping the Holocaust. And one of the central characters of that story was her first husband, who was my great grandfather Eric Levy. And he was also a heavyweight boxing champion in Germany in the 1910s. And this story was like really central to my understanding of my family and myself. Like when I was a child, I wrote poetry about it. I was like really into it. And then I grew up and I became a Holocaust Studies scholar and Really crucially for this book I began researching this earlier period of German colonialism and also teaching U. S. history. And it became very clear to me that this story that I had grown up with wasn't the whole story. And that the meaning that I had found in that family history was shifting really significantly as I learned all of these other things about the world. And so heavyweight is like the story of the pursuit of trying to understand that meaning. And in trying to do that, I use like every tool at my disposal and something that's really crucial. And this is not a visual medium, but heavyweight is a graphic memoir. It's a

Jason Blitman:

Yes, I was gonna say, we have not yet said that it is a graphic

Brett Benner:

heh.

Solomon J. Brager:

I always try to slide it in, and I'm this like funny Venn diagram of cartoonist and historian. And I use drawing and painting to make sense of the world around me. And, the comics that I love are comics where the words and the images are really integrated, where it's not like just an illustrated, novel. And the I like, use the comic form to explore the topics of the story, and also to explore all of these different Archival tools that were at my disposal, where I was like really blessed not only to have access to all these different archives, but also to, for example, my great grandfather's boxing scrapbooks and two home movies from the 1930s. And my great grandmother's recorded testimony with the Shoah Foundation. And so all of these different pieces find their way into the book.

Jason Blitman:

yeah.

Brett Benner:

Yeah. It's

Jason Blitman:

it's like an interesting kaleidoscope of mediums, because you're talking about scrapbooks, you're talking about video footage, but it's also all drawn. So we get to, there is this visual as well. You called yourself a historian and a visual artist. Are you surprised that this was the first book you wrote? Yeah.

Solomon J. Brager:

were like a few different versions of this book that could have happened when I started thinking about it because I was teaching high school history. I had initially conceived of this like pretty academic pedagogical book that was like about settler colonialism for students that was a comic. And I think that there are definitely like threads of that in, in this book and I do think that this book like, in many ways I conceived of it as a textbook. To teach but I think a lot of it was like me trying to Make sense of or exercise the demon that like had to come out of me in order to like make anything else it like it came out like really fast and you know intensely and I think that now I'm like I can write something fun, like maybe I'll do fiction, maybe I'll write a ghost story, but like the first book like had to be this like intense family narrative and like I had to get the holocaust story out of me and all this so I could do anything else.

Jason Blitman:

Was the demon exercised?

Solomon J. Brager:

No, not at all.

Brett Benner:

yeah

Solomon J. Brager:

It lives within me.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, I was gonna say that doesn't surprise me. It's interesting. We've talked to a lot of people who have written memoirs and I would say a pretty big percentage of them are shy away from the memoir first. They're too afraid to tell their own story. So they start with the fiction before they move on to telling their own story. So I wasn't sure where that landed for you.

Solomon J. Brager:

I think the thing that's interesting about that is even though in many ways this is a memoir, the way that I shied away from memoir is by constantly turning to history and to family memoir. And so I'm like, I like there's literally a moment at the beginning of the book where I say I don't want to tell you my story. My story. So I'm going to tell you his instead, referring to my great grandfather. And there's, there's been some funny things that came out of it. I think it was like the Kirkus Review. They were like, Solomon Breaker doesn't want to talk about the like painful events that formed their transgender identity. So instead they talk about the Holocaust. And I was like, that is not what I said.

Jason Blitman:

that's quite a statement to

Brett Benner:

Wow

Solomon J. Brager:

news to me,

Jason Blitman:

no attention to me. Let's talk about the Holocaust

Brett Benner:

Exactly.

Jason Blitman:

Hashtag things I've never said in my life. I have the craziest story for you.

Solomon J. Brager:

I'm ready.

Jason Blitman:

My sister Carly is named after my great grandmother, my paternal grandmother's mother. She went by Kitty. So we called her grandma Kitty and we, for our entire life, Assumed, assumed, we were told that it was short for Catherine and, but like we always refer to her as Grandma Kitty with a K until maybe three years ago. where my grandmother, for some reason, I don't know if she came across her birth certificate or something, found out her name is Gertrude.

Solomon J. Brager:

Gertrude! Yes! I love, okay, that's incredible. Do you know, there's a restaurant in New York called Gertrude's. And they have, there's another and I was talking to them and I was like this to the, one of the owners and I was like, this place feels really beautiful to me because my great grandmother was named Gertrude and actually three of my great grandmothers were named Gertrude. So the Gertrude of this book is not even the only Gertrude.

Brett Benner:

Wow.

Solomon J. Brager:

by all rights. Truly, like by all rights, I've, I have three younger sisters, like one of us should have been named Gertrude,

Brett Benner:

Sure. Yeah. To carry it on. Of

Solomon J. Brager:

I would have taken it. I don't mind.

Jason Blitman:

That's

Brett Benner:

the fourth.

Jason Blitman:

And it's for our listeners, and this isn't a spoiler, it happens early in the book Solomon discovers that their great grandmother, who everyone had known by one name, actually was Gertrude. was born a Gertrude. And so that was a hilarious revelation in our family as well. And literally, my sister Carly with a K is named after Kitty slash Catherine. And so ever since then, every once in a while, we'll jokingly call her Garly with a

Solomon J. Brager:

Girly. That's

Jason Blitman:

Because really, she should have been named after Gertrude.

Solomon J. Brager:

so funny because this and the way that I found that out was through this newspaper clipping where my whole family when they came to the United States from Germany in 1941 legally changed their names. And, there, there was an act of trying to distance themselves from Jewishness and that where they changed their last name from left to right. as this moment of assimilating into whiteness from, this identity that they felt was actively endangering them in a very real way. It wasn't just a feeling. And also then, my, my OMA took this opportunity in a way that had nothing to do, with, dealing with anti semitism or anti German sentiment or anything, to be like, I'm actually just also going to take the Gertrude out of my name and add a Joan. So she went from Gertrude Ilse to Ilse Joan,

Jason Blitman:

While we're

Brett Benner:

we're doing it. Exactly. Wait, can I do one more thing?

Solomon J. Brager:

Of course, yeah, like

Jason Blitman:

while we're waiting in the line.

Brett Benner:

Exactly. Let me try this out. How do you think this sounds?

Jason Blitman:

Oh my god, that's so fascinating. Thinking about wanting to dive into my family history, and I'm curious to hear this, to hear your experience. I think part of my concern is knowing how generic some of my information is, and A, coming up, Empty or learning things that I might not have wanted to know or just like the trauma that can dust up or the information that can dust up inherited trauma that I didn't even realize I had. Can you talk about, not that we want to end on a trauma note, but can you address a little bit about like that experience, that part of the experience?

Solomon J. Brager:

Yeah, totally. I think that there, I have a lot of anxiety about the story not being interesting. And I think that, I just set that aside. It was most of my favorite books, almost nothing happens. And so I'm like, I'm telling like, a pretty grand scale, like epic story. So it can't be that boring. But I was also a little nervous. It's not so much about having to engage the family trauma, but to talk to people in my family about it, because the way that, besides, these narratives that I inherited from my great grandmother, which are, over time, in particular, pretty rote she told the same story over and over again it's not something that my family talks about a lot, and in fact we're not big feelings people, we're like, very German, and So to try to get, for example, my grandfather to talk about his relationship to his father who, was physically abusive it was like really hard to pull that out of him and upsetting to engage with that. And I think like the way that I ended up the way that I ended up dealing with it on a personal level, frankly, it was like going to therapy and my therapist is this sort of appears through the phone because I drew this whole thing during lockdown. But then also in the story in, in part by introducing this kind of Fictioned character who is the ghost of my great grandfather, who I have this sort of like adversarial relationship with, where he like shows up in these moments of extreme emotional vulnerability to make fun of me and that was like how I A used humor to deal with how he was feeling, and B, tried to work through his impact on the family by being okay, you're, like the ghost of an asshole who continues to haunt me and I think that because, probably because of the work that I have chosen to do engaging with the potentially traumatic or upsetting or even the boring through creative work is like probably the best advice and method that I can offer.

Jason Blitman:

yeah, that's really interesting. Thank you for sharing all of that.

Solomon J. Brager:

Yeah, of course.

Jason Blitman:

You are a debut author. Congratulations. Are there other books, authors, things that should be on our radar, should be on our listeners radar that you want to shout out about?

Solomon J. Brager:

Can I do two?

Brett Benner:

You can as many as you

Jason Blitman:

want. great.

Solomon J. Brager:

yeah. Okay. Oh, no. Okay. Maybe I'll do two because those are the two that I thought of. So my first recommendation is a graphic novel that just came out from John and Corderly called Vera Bushwack by Sig Berwash. It's also, it's a debut graphic novel and Sig and I were in a comics class in Vermont together the summer of 2019 where both of our projects originated. And Like our books could probably not be more different. Vera Bushwack is like this very spare, extremely creative, gorgeous graphic novel that is about a dyke who like goes to the woods of Canada to restart a life alone with her dog Pony. And I also have a dog named Pony who was in my book. So I guess that's where the Venn diagram, very different size dog. But

Jason Blitman:

funny.

Solomon J. Brager:

Yeah. Who's actually, wait, hold on.

Brett Benner:

Pony. Look at Pony. It is dog

Jason Blitman:

appearance of the day,

Brett Benner:

Yes, we're getting cameos. Canine cameos happening on Gaze

Jason Blitman:

So funny.

Solomon J. Brager:

And Vera Bushwa is the main character's named, and Vera Bushwick is her. It's her alter ego that comes out, who's like this dirt bike riding, chainsaw wielding like kind of badass. And it's just like this very fun, very interesting story that's like really beautifully drawn. So that's my first recommendation.

Brett Benner:

Interesting. That's so cool.

Solomon J. Brager:

So my partner, Charles Deonia, is a poet and they're actually also a debut author this year.

Jason Blitman:

No way.

Solomon J. Brager:

yeah, their book Gay Heaven is a Dance Floor But I Can't Relax has been

Brett Benner:

Oh My god, I'd

Solomon J. Brager:

poetry hit of the summer. And literally, I'm, I am not recommending this book because They're my boyfriend, but actually because it's like the best poetry book I've read in a very long time. And in fact, at our first date, I showed up to one of their poetry readings, and if I hadn't liked their poetry, we would not have dated.

Jason Blitman:

Seriously. That's a hard thing.

Solomon J. Brager:

Yeah, I know. I don't know if I recommend it, but you can't date someone whose work you don't like. It's just not, it's not a thing. But yeah, it's, it engages really heavily. With with gay history, with gay art history and especially the work of Arthur Russell the multi talented but also particularly disco recording artist um, it's, yeah, there's a lot of disco in it.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, cool. Good to know about. Saul, it's so nice to meet

Brett Benner:

So nice to meet you.

Solomon J. Brager:

nice. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

on the book. It's fantastic.

Solomon J. Brager:

Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. It's been delightful.

Jason Blitman:

find some wheat free. Candy.

Brett Benner:

Sour patch.

Jason Blitman:

Solomon, thank you so much.

Brett Benner:

Solomon.

Jason Blitman:

Everyone check out their book, Heavyweight. And now we will hear from Oshin McKenna and his book, Evenings and Weekends. Hello.

Oisín McKenna:

Hey, how you doing?

Jason Blitman:

Good. How are you?

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah, I'm good. Thank you. Yeah. Thanks for having me on.

Brett Benner:

You're giving such moody evening lighting now.

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah, it's very, summer hasn't popped off here. It's like very rainy and gray outside my window, sadly.

Jason Blitman:

We had the author on the show and In order for me to remember how to say Yuleen, I like sang it to the tune of Jolene. And O'Sheen is the same!

Oisín McKenna:

works. Oh my god. That's good. Oh,

Jason Blitman:

O'Sheen.

Oisín McKenna:

that's nice. Oh I'll use that for yeah, for forgiving other people future prompts. It's nice.

Jason Blitman:

Am I the first person who said this to you?

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah, I think so. It's good. Yeah, it's an innovation.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, okay. Yuleen got it all the time.

Brett Benner:

Maybe it's been mostly,

Jason Blitman:

glad I could be your first.

Brett Benner:

are we your first, are we your first American interview? Maybe that's why. Cause they don't know. I'm sure

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah true. Yeah, maybe it'll pop up again.

Jason Blitman:

Anyway.

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

your book, Evenings and Weekends, what is your elevator pitch for the book?

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah, so I'd describe it as a multi generational community drama set in London over the course of one weekend in 2019, set against the backdrop of an unprecedented heat wave during which a whale is beached in the River Thames. There's a marine biologist, who is in charge of the rescue operation of the whale who becomes a viral sensation because she looks exactly like Princess Diana. And the book follows an ensemble cast of friends and family in London over the course of this weekend as this new story is unfolding in the background and other political events are unfolding in the background too. While this cast of kind of scurry about the city on all of these quite Like intimate, but high stakes adventures. So there's various big life changing events on the horizon for all of these characters. And during the weekend, they all come to a head.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, very excellent.

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah I'm most of the characters, so I'm obviously Irish, but most of the character. are, are English, have English accents. Although, of course, Paul Muskell also, is a very versatile actor. He can pull that off, of course. I don't know. Yeah, TBC.

Brett Benner:

It just screams for, it screams to me of adaption. And all of a sudden all these amazing English and Irish actors to be all over this thing. I just I want to see it as a mini series so badly.

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah, me too. It's not, yeah, it's still, TBC, but I'm hoping that will happen. Not confirmed yet. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

I, among my most important questions of the day is, I had no idea that a lot of gay kids like the sea. Thing? Tell me more.

Oisín McKenna:

This is this is something that I've seen in internet like subculture. I guess it's a meme that gay kids like to see. And I guess it's also something that I hear sometimes in maybe delivery or artistic circles of somebody's giving like a talk and people talk about the connection between queerness and water or queerness and the ocean. I don't personally have a particularly strong connection to the sea. I like to see in a casual way, but

Jason Blitman:

On the weekends,

Oisín McKenna:

Weekend, yeah, on vacation

Jason Blitman:

interesting.

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah. Yeah, so I'm not totally sure if it's grounding in reality, although it's something that is claimed to exist by some.

Jason Blitman:

had never heard that before, and I was like, do I have a deep relationship to the sea that I don't even realize? And I, maybe I do. I need to do some reflecting.

Oisín McKenna:

yeah worth thinking about, yeah.

Brett Benner:

Beyond the Little Mermaid.

Jason Blitman:

Oh.

Oisín McKenna:

True, The Little Mermaid is, yeah, particularly resonant with gay kids, I think. Maybe that's got a

Brett Benner:

And many gay adults.

Oisín McKenna:

Of course, yeah, of course,

Brett Benner:

for so

Jason Blitman:

I was just literally, in an interview yesterday, I was saying that Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid was one of my first crushes. So maybe I do have this, maybe the sea is a thing.

Brett Benner:

What's fascinating to me is the way that you've used London as a character. Can you talk about that a little bit? Because it's someplace, certainly for people that are there, all of these places that you're talking about, they're so specific.

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah, so I've lived in London for about seven years now. I moved here when I was 26. I'm from a pretty small town in Orland. And when I moved here, I found the city hugely invigorating and thrilling and still do in different ways now. But I think when I moved here at first the thing that really excited me about it was this sense of kind of wild possibility that if you just turned a certain street corner or went to a certain party or whatever some huge like life changing event could happen. It felt like it was always something really big on the precipice, something was always about to pop off and that never Or nearly never materializes, or if it does materialize, it's only really brief. So the promise that London makes to like change your life radically, it doesn't like quite happen in that way. But I found it really pleasurable to feel always on the precipice of it, it's like you edging. And I was interested in how that feeling is also It's always thwarted because it's a difficult place to live economically, it's like really expensive. Most people have to spend, like like anywhere I have to spend most of the time, making money, often to live in quite like poor conditions like poor rental accommodation. So I was interested in this dual feeling of oh my god something amazing is going to happen. Of course, in order to embrace that amazing thing, you've got to be able to act with spontaneity, which is very difficult to do when you're living in very restrained economic conditions. So I was interested in London for those reasons. And it's got, it's got, I've got a sort of romantic investment in it, I've found my life here to be, like, romantic and adventurous in a way that was not really part of my life in the same way before. So I was interested in, yeah, paying it a lot of attention in the book.

Jason Blitman:

it's funny that this is what we're talking about because something that struck me was characters are in conversation and someone's talking about moving from London and someone says to her, Don't you love it here? And then she says, I just feel like I'm always waiting for something to happen. Like one of those eight million lives is going to collide with mine and knock me off course towards something else, but they never do. And we, it goes on, you go on to talk about how we're all too busy trying to survive. Do you ever feel like that's exhausting?

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah, absolutely. There have been so many times in, during my life here where I have wanted to, I've performatively said that I'm going to give up. I'm going to I'm going to leave. I'm going to stop trying to be a writer, even though I never really meant that, but there, yeah, yeah, it is totally exhausting. It's got a little bit easier for me now in lots of ways. There are more sort of structures in my life that make it easier to be here, but. Yeah it's exhausting, but it gives as much as it takes so as well. I guess it's I mean it's always like a delicate balance there's times where it seems to take much more and then suddenly it gives a lot, but there's always like enough to keep going.

Brett Benner:

To then get out because of the structures and because of the roots that begin to continue to grow in the relationships you have to say I'm going to, I'm going to pack up and leave. That becomes much harder. What's interesting too is so much, almost every character in this story is facing major transitional moments and what happens next and for all of them almost, which is fantastic.

Jason Blitman:

I have to ask, how do you spend your evenings and weekends?

Oisín McKenna:

yeah, good question. At the moment, I guess I've been busy recently with releasing this book, which has been quite like, in some ways kind of time intensive during the week in terms of, promotional activities, interviews, etc. Which is really good. But that means I'm a little bit like, like tired at the moment, but occasionally like letting off steam in quite a kind of hard way at the weekend, in a way which is it's not quite the balance of it is not quite right. We're really stressed at the week and then partying at the weekend. So I think something needs to like, shift a little bit. in that. But typically I do, I like parties on the weekend, sometimes in quite small ways small intimate parties, sometimes, on clubbing, etc. But I'm quite, in loads of ways, I'm really boring. I go to the gym in the evening. I cycle and swim a bit. I go for little walks. It's, yeah, a lot of it.

Jason Blitman:

lovely.

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah, it can be really lovely. It can be lovely. Yeah,

Brett Benner:

I just found it interesting too, even with the title I noticed. You use the title twice in the book, but in both points, you're talking about it. It was in part about relationships and about repetition and the joy and kind of the sameness of something, but it's interesting hearing you just talk about this because there is some of that in what your own life is right now. How do you feel about that?

Jason Blitman:

Because the other time it's about how evenings and weekends are the time to relax in a stressful life, right? So it's really, that's creating the balance for you.

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah, totally. And actually, I think that the latter time so the context of that is when it's like in a kind of flashback scene and it's like a mother son dynamic in which this, the son who's like gay and increasingly becoming more cosmopolitan than his parents, judges them for buying this big TV. He thinks it's gauche or whatever. And she says that getting to watch TV, it's the most relaxing time in her otherwise stressful life. And she wants to make it, as nice as it can be. And I guess there, there is something there's something in the book about ways that different people spend leisure time across different class and age categories. And how it's this sort of contest, can be a little bit contested or, there's a sense of like mutual judgment where the you know the kind of more cosmopolitan gay son feels a bit like judged by his less cosmopolitan mother for the ways he spends his time but likewise she feels that he looks down on her so that yeah

Brett Benner:

just described almost every gay parent relationship dynamic with mothers.

Jason Blitman:

It's not even just gay apparent, but I think the relationship of people who do live a more cosmopolitan

Brett Benner:

Sure.

Jason Blitman:

and the people who don't, right? Do you have a TV show of choice?

Oisín McKenna:

Do I have a TV show of choice? I feel since kind of streaming came in I I enjoy it less I miss the kind of channel flicking, just putting, turning it on, and there's some, I don't know I, I find in British TV, there's some really, soothing low stakes, reality, or documentaries, I don't know if Antiques Roadshow, which

Brett Benner:

Oh yeah,

Oisín McKenna:

yeah, it's things like Antiques Roadshow, or I like, various shows, where somebody is unsatisfied with their house and an interior designer comes and makes it nicer or like gardening shows. I like that sort of stuff. I find it very like soothing. I think maybe it reminds me of like childhood. I don't

Brett Benner:

Not naked attraction.

Oisín McKenna:

I've not watched that much Naked Attraction. I feel like I have seen a bit of it. It's diminishing returns. I feel

Brett Benner:

Literally. Literally.

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah. I feel like the concept is I don't know, it's not got that much mileage. Once you've seen one episode, obviously there's like different people each time, but like it doesn't really, yeah, there's nowhere it can really go,

Jason Blitman:

mean, unless you're like really into the naked body in that way. Honestly, it's not just similar from house hunters.

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

Like you go

Oisín McKenna:

true.

Jason Blitman:

I can't believe I just said that in a medium in which I'm being recorded,

Brett Benner:

you can edit that.

Jason Blitman:

but there's Oh yes. Naked body. But you also wonder like, who are they going to, which one are they going to pick? Which house, all the houses are the same. Okay. A three bedroom, two bathroom is the same, but like

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

your curiosity of what the combination

Oisín McKenna:

yeah,

Brett Benner:

Who has the best

Jason Blitman:

so weird.

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah, it like reveals something about like people's like tastes, because whoever is doing the selecting will have different tastes and preferences and maybe yeah, that's maybe an interesting bit of it.

Jason Blitman:

So it becomes this like social, sociological. And social experiment of oh, wait, I would choose that one. But they're choosing that one because they live in the suburbs and they're not cosmopolitan.

Oisín McKenna:

Yes. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

I just, I'm just thinking because there is such a complicated relationship in terms of some of these characters with Ireland being queer in Ireland. And what are your feelings about that? We've watched, first of all, we've watched so much incredible literature come out of Ireland queer writers, Boyne and we say Shuggie Bain and it's so prevalent in this with these characters and how have your feelings evolved in terms of, I'm sure growing up to what it is now and your views on it?

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah. I had a really complicated time being queer in Ireland, which was not, definitely not straightforwardly negative, but so I guess, I guess like growing up. It was in the tail end of intense state Catholic theocracy in terms of Catholicism influencing state policy, etc. Actually, to be fair, it wasn't quite at the tail end of that. A lot of particularly in relation to gay marriage and abortion, because they finally became legalized in, 2015 and 2018, respectively, but was growing up as a child, I, yeah, there were no kind of positive representations of gay people that I saw. I never really heard about gay people beyond the fact that they were either pitiable because they had lonely lives and therefore deserved our sympathy, or whatever. That they were, disgusting or like jokes, whatever. But the only sort of positive representation of gayness I saw when I was a kid was Oscar Wilde, who's, massively celebrated in Ireland as like an Irish literary hero. Despite his Gayness. And in fact, in some ways because of his gayness, because he was persecuted by the English and therefore provides further evidence of like English, like moral bankruptcy, which I think is very appealing to an Irish sensibility. So his gayness becomes celebrated. But then as a teenager, like I came out really young at 14 to, the whole town, whole school. And it was like a small town. I didn't know any other gay people at that time. But the town was small enough that like someone would hear about me being gay and they would be like, oh, there's a bisexual girl in this school, you should meet her and I'd meet the bisexual girl and she'd know somebody else. And it turned out that there were, lots of queer young people in the town and a little kind of scene did emerge, which was actually like, really nice, really positive. I had a boyfriend. And that was still during, homosexuality was only decriminalized, I think in 1990 or 91. Yeah. And gay marriage, came in 2015, passed by a popular referendum, but it was, this was still 2006, so it was, very much like between those times, there still was, a lot of homophobia in many ways, but I don't, yeah, I don't know, I don't I think now, it would be considered from a legislative perspective, one of the most progressive places in Europe for LGBT rights. It's got Like self ID for trans people for for getting like a gender gender identity certificate. Obviously gay marriage passed by a landslide, same sex marriage passed by a landslide vote. Yeah, it's a sort of complicated place. It's been less vulnerable to the sort of like in the UK, there's, a really extreme anti trans backlash in the media and political class. Yeah. That's not been the case in Ireland in the same way. So yeah, it's a complicated place.

Brett Benner:

Interesting.

Jason Blitman:

That's very interesting. All right. Being mindful of your time in our last few minutes with you. Oh, Shane, you are a debut author. Do you have other books that we should have on our radar that you want to shout out about? We're trying to amplify as many authors as we possibly can.

Oisín McKenna:

One that I'd really recommend is a book called Henry Henry by Alan Bratton. I don't know. Yeah, you guys might know it. Yeah. Yeah, I did a talk with Alan recently at the Literature Festival in Dublin. We were on a panel together and they're incredibly funny and intelligent and cool person. And I think that book is incredibly moving and weird and funny and political and very observant of I'm not sure how to say it. British I don't know, yeah, upper class, like social etiquette, etc. Yeah, I think that's a really wonderful debut, which I'd really recommend.

Jason Blitman:

Fantastic. Thank you. Oshin, you're a delight. Congrats on your debut.

Brett Benner:

the

Oisín McKenna:

Yeah,

Brett Benner:

book.

Jason Blitman:

Season two can be mornings and afternoons.

Oisín McKenna:

Yes,

Brett Benner:

you go.

Jason Blitman:

I see the third episode arc. It's called Afternoon Delight. There's something

Brett Benner:

Thinking about working up an appetite. Yeah, but no, I, it's great.

Jason Blitman:

Oshin, thank you so much for being here today.

Oisín McKenna:

Thank you for having me.

Jason Blitman:

Everyone check out Evenings and Weekends, which comes out today, July 2nd. And now we're moving on over to August Thompson talking about his book, Anyone's Ghost, which hits stores July 9th.

August Thompson:

Hello. Hi. Oh, you look, you both look so dapper. This is lovely.

Jason Blitman:

Dapper, I'm wearing a t shirt.

August Thompson:

know, but you have, your hair's well done. It's just, it's working.

Brett Benner:

Think everyone's hair is quaffed. You've got good hair.

August Thompson:

How are you both today?

Brett Benner:

Good, how are you?

August Thompson:

I'm doing well. I still haven't figured out the lighting in my apartment. I've just moved. So I have a CIA interrogation thing going on. So don't blame me if I'm fast or something like that, but I'm well, yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Do you have things you want to confess to us?

August Thompson:

really, no. We'll see how long the podcast lasts but the lighting there, so

Jason Blitman:

Okay. This is an interrogation, so you're, it's, the setup is perfect. I was a little bit late to this Zoom because the last thing I was doing was listening to the national song, Anyone's Ghost, get myself in the mood. So I'm feeling very broody.

August Thompson:

good. Yeah, that's where I'm always at. So I'm happy. We're all meeting on the same level. Yeah, love that song. I love them for giving me a great title, saving a lot of work. Probably went through 9000 different titles. And that was the one that was there the whole time. And I was ignoring it. God bless them,

Jason Blitman:

Can you share some of them with us?

August Thompson:

Oh, wow. That's really yeah, that's

Jason Blitman:

Or is that trauma? You don't have to talk

August Thompson:

That's Yeah, that makes me feel, I think, too exposed. I would, I'd probably rather tell you about the ten worst dates I ever went on than that, because

Jason Blitman:

oh my God, you can't do that to me. I want to hear about

August Thompson:

deep in the bottom.

Jason Blitman:

If there's anything I love, it is date stories.

August Thompson:

I, I had a a pretty long slew of some bad ones, but again that's, I guess that's not why we're here, but

Jason Blitman:

can you tell us your favorite worst date story?

August Thompson:

One time I went on a date, I lived in Atlanta for a year and nothing, I'm not, I'm an irreligious person and I have no prejudice against religious people, but I've probably been to church three times in my life. Like I was raised atheistic and I went out with someone and we had a very full date, I would say, perhaps not the most Christly one. And the next morning she was like, okay, we should go to church. And I was like, okay. Like you want me to drop you off? And she was like no. It's really cool. We should just go. And I was like, Oh, okay. And she was like, don't worry. It's a cool church. The pastor's like really rad. He he skateboards. It's this is yeah, I probably have worse dates than that, but that was

Jason Blitman:

That's what comes to

Brett Benner:

Did you go, but did you go to the church?

August Thompson:

I did not, I think as a writer you put yourself in a lot of uncomfortable situations for the sake of material, but I have to have a line. A skateboarding pastor is probably where I draw that line yeah. Would you have gone? Would you have gone to the

Brett Benner:

I would have gone, but see, I was also, I was, I would have gone just out of the curiosity, but I'd also wonder if then later I'd wake up at a bathtub and my liver had been cut out. That it's a fine line, but I would be a little bit curious. Like it's fun. I don't

Jason Blitman:

It's fun.

Brett Benner:

That's what she said.

August Thompson:

that was the pitch.

Brett Benner:

That was the pitch. Skateboarding

Jason Blitman:

I thought you were like confirming.

August Thompson:

Now that we're, I should call her. No. I am very curious now my curiosity is building, but maybe it's one of those things that's better in the mind. Maybe it could never, the skateboarding pastor could never live up

Brett Benner:

I feel like if you were a standup, you would have gone

August Thompson:

Yes.

Brett Benner:

because then you absolutely would have mined that for gold.

August Thompson:

100%. Yeah. So I guess, are we saying that writers have, More dignity than stand ups?

Brett Benner:

Sure. I hope so. Maybe, I guess it depends on the writer. Certainly many of them have the same problems probably as well. For our listeners who aren't familiar, we ask, do you have a little elevator pitch that you can give us?

August Thompson:

sure. Yeah. Anyone's Ghost. Is, I think, a book about contemporary love above all else. It is about a young man named Clarence David Alden who meets an older boy who is extremely charming and dangerous and, most importantly, very hot. When he is when they are 15 and 17 respectively, and it follows the next 20 years of their lives as they come together and form bonds that are fraternal and platonic and edging on romantic and the ripples that these different forms of love cause throughout Theron's life. And it is structured around three car crashes the two of them, in the door with the last one killing Jade, which is not a spoiler, it's literally the first line of the book no readers be annoyed with me. So I would say those are the broad strokes. Yeah. You guys can rate me on that. But yeah, the general gist.

Jason Blitman:

no, I think that definitely makes sense. The one piece that you didn't really talk about is the element of wanting to be of Theron wanting to be Jake or, and, or be with him. And I think there's that, especially that where there's that younger, older dynamic. Yeah, which I think was also just very prevalent throughout the book too.

Brett Benner:

It's the line between crush and hero worship a little

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

August Thompson:

Absolutely. Yeah, that was that was probably like the main drive. Thank you for saying that. You've really rescued me here. That was probably like the main drive for writing the book was exploring that. Because. I did not come out as queer until I was 25 or 26, so relatively late, at least in the sort of culture that I was growing up in and going to college in. I think that was something that I thought about the most was these relationships I had growing up with queer people. With boys and men in particular where I felt this kind of charge and I never knew if that charge was envy or if it was excitement or if it was erotic or if it was everything all at once. And I was a really insecure young person as I would imagine most young people are. And I think that made it feel more complicated and convoluted because I had no sort of Structure of competence to ground myself in. And so I was constantly meeting these people that I found to be so just. electric and like life filled and present and all these things that I wasn't and you know the book talks a lot about this but of just giving anything to become someone else to just be outside of yourself for a bit and so I spent a lot of years parsing like what that actually was apparently enough to write a whole book about it and I'm not sure if I actually have answers I think there are maybe just more questions than ever but That's the fun of art, isn't it? It's just an endless slew of questions.

Jason Blitman:

Was the the sort of mining of some of those feelings that are the pieces of yourself in the book, or are there more elements of Auto fiction in there.

August Thompson:

I would say that there are two main things. I would say one, the mining is definitely, it's definitely like the emotional integrity of the book. It's examining these feelings I had. And then there are a lot of place markers that I did take directly from my life. There's an arcade in part one called fun spot. That's real. There's a bar called a library where 30 percent of the book is set and that's real. I'm really hoping they'll sponsor me. And but most of the plot and the story and the characters, obviously you base things on real life, just, That's just how it is, right? There's sort of an average of a lot of people in there, but I was just like a huge nerd when I was growing up, and I had no romantic experience until I was like 20, probably, or 19 straight or queer, and yeah a lot of it was Thinking about how to dramatize and create scenes and plot out of these kind of abstract emotions that I'd felt. I wouldn't say it's autofiction, basically, at all. I I wish it was, in a way, because I think that Saren's life is a lot fuller than mine was. I lead a very full life now, thank God. But Yeah, there were a lot of years of just being alone slash with my, five close male friends talking about the dumbest shit in the world and, trying to figure out how to be secure and have moral integrity and playing a lot of World of Warcraft. And that is Fascinating to me, but does not read on the page, very interestingly. So I had to make some stuff up,

Brett Benner:

do think you've two things that you do so successfully in the book and why I think it works so well and is so relatable is you really capture that awkwardness of adolescence. There's a, I was looking last night, I got to put my glasses on for a second. So I could actually see this, but, you said you say it was a brace faced gremlin with boy tits and stalagmites of cystic acne, ridging my cheeks. I remember spending so many hours staring at my face, my hair, my body, trying to will it with some psychic power to be better and more manly. And I remember, I just looked at that. I remember like rereading that and like that was me, like that was me. But also the, you're the way you capture that. That feeling of a crush and that feeling of and the inability to verbalize what exactly it is when you're feeling it. And not having the clarity yet of knowing, is it sex related? Is it just hero worship? Is it I want to be with you or I want to be you? I think that is, That's so prevalent for anyone, regardless of sexuality. It's just it's, you're at that point where it's not so clearly defined. And I don't know, maybe today kids, young people have a lot more language and a lot more to be able to verbalize something that wasn't necessarily there then. But I certainly never knew. And I absolutely had this person that I, I was a freshman. He was a senior. He played the trumpet. He was like, Oh my God. And straight. And I was just coming to terms with, as a freshman in high school and coming to terms with my sexuality and not understanding any of it. And you've just nailed it. You nail it.

August Thompson:

Thank you very much. Yeah. I really appreciate that. And I think something I worked very hard to try to accomplish and I think was. One of the harder parts of writing the book was the book is written, with the retrospective view, it opens with the narrator being he's almost 30 and he's looking back at his life with Jake and finding that meld of maintaining an authorial voice that was adult, but also recreating authentically what it was like to be that young and to like, channel that insecurity. And to alter the voice as the book goes on and as the characters age. That was something that took a lot of fine tuning and effort. Not to pat myself on the back too much. It's just something I was really conscious of because I am really tired of coming of age novels, which is a label I both apply and don't apply to this book, but whatever or books about being young that have a condescending perspective towards being young. Whereas where it's not being inhabited it's being looked down on. It's very easy to find yourself ridiculous when you're young, once you're a bit older, because it is ridiculous. But at the time, it's the only real thing in the world, like those feelings were all real. They were all so valid. But Yeah. Now I'm just like, yeah, it was 15. It was so dumb. Whatever, it's very easy to just write it off, but it was everything at that point. I just, I remember feeling like if things didn't go my way, I couldn't find a way to express myself. I would just like explode, and life loses that urgency a little bit, but I wanted that to feel very authentic. That was a bit of a rant, but

Jason Blitman:

That's okay. We love rants. Back to a little bit of auto fiction and this discovery of being young and stupid and silly. I think this may be one of the most important questions I ever ask on this podcast or certainly has I've, that I have ever asked on this podcast in your in August journey of. self discovery. Upon reflection, were you, and I'm asking this because it comes up in the book, did you realize that you were attracted to Robin Hood and Disney's Robin Hood?

August Thompson:

I actually took that from someone else. And I was so stunned when they told it to me that I was like, it's one of those things from you could not have waterboarded that information out of me I found it to be so perverse and fascinating and, I, after it had processed, I was more like that actually these kinds of things make sense because sexuality is so confusing but, no, I can confidently say I did not I feel like I'm under oath. I can confidently say, your honor, that I did not feel sexually attracted to the Robin Hood animated

Brett Benner:

not touch that girl or whatever he said.

August Thompson:

exactly.

Brett Benner:

I not touch that

August Thompson:

yeah.

Jason Blitman:

Hey, Brad, a

Brett Benner:

Yeah. And suddenly Jason, when you brought that question up, all I could hear in my head was Robin Hood, little John running through the forest. Like literally, like I used to play the record of that thing. But he did look good in his tights, fox and all. Or what was he a

August Thompson:

he's he's fine. Yeah, he's a fuck. He's a roguish. He has a roguish charm, I don't not get it But I remember someone telling me that and being like, oh man, i'm gonna use that like i'm so sorry

Jason Blitman:

Oh,

Brett Benner:

better that than like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.

August Thompson:

That's very true

Brett Benner:

It would have been a little too on the

Jason Blitman:

that was not the first time I'd heard that about someone being attracted to The Fox of Robin Hood.

August Thompson:

Really? No way. Okay

Jason Blitman:

yeah, no, that was not new. And I think, I don't think I've ever thought, oh, that was who I was attracted to when I was a kid. But someone saying it, I was like, oh, yeah, I get it.

August Thompson:

Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

Yeah,

Brett Benner:

didn't give you a lot of options. It wasn't until, Little Mermaid came in that the princes started to get a

Jason Blitman:

No, Prince Eric was like, was the one for me when I was a kid.

Brett Benner:

Yeah. And then Aladdin, all of it, you had your choice of so many.

August Thompson:

it's so true.

Jason Blitman:

We came of age at a better time.

Brett Benner:

Is there something now that you as an like an older August would go back and tell your younger self,

August Thompson:

I just would like to encourage my younger self to know that it will be, and I know that sounds very vague, but I just think I was such an anxious kid and so insecure, and I just was filled with such self loathing, and it's sad to me when I look at, when I see pictures of myself from when I was a kid, and I was like, I'm so cute, and I was like, I was funny, and like all these things, and there was just no, not a single moment of acknowledging that or feeling good about myself. And I think the thing that bothered me most was, I was a really late bloomer, and I was tiny forever and I think I just would be like, slow down, it's gonna be fine. You just need to give it some time, and you should actually enjoy being a little dweeb, and you should just enjoy being here, because this is not something that life will let you recreate, are these, long weekends going to your friends. Like beach house and drinking their parents expect the vodka and making dumb jokes, like life doesn't really afford that life does afford, like going on a lot of dates and like exploring that part of your life. And so I wish I had just been able to be like, okay, this is now, and this is a good thing.

Brett Benner:

Can you go back and now tell my younger self that same thing?

Jason Blitman:

while you're time traveling and

Brett Benner:

Exactly. Stop by 1038 Elizabeth Drive in Pittsburgh and let him know as well.

Jason Blitman:

in the year 1812,

Brett Benner:

Oh,

Jason Blitman:

are the, you will be the second author, I say second because I read the other book first, even though you're the first conversation we're having. We will be talking to two authors this week who talk about Fleetwood Mac. Do you have a favorite Fleetwood Mac song?

August Thompson:

I really like over my head the single version I'm, not really a person i'm normally not particular, but there's some slight mixing change on there But I love that record top to bottom rumors. That's like the most but I think you know one of the best parts of getting older is you Like, I'm cool with being a greatest hits guy now. I'm more than fine being like, No, their best song is their most famous song. And there's a reason it's so famous. And it's because of fucking rules. So yeah, I would say over my head. How about you guys? Are you Fleetwood

Brett Benner:

is my, this is Fleetwood Mac on Spotify.

August Thompson:

Yeah, exactly.

Jason Blitman:

Do you have a book that you're excited about or recommending?

August Thompson:

Yes, I read a book called Worry by Alexander Tanner that came out this year that I absolutely loved.

Jason Blitman:

We've had her on the show.

August Thompson:

my god! I love Alexandra, she's so nice. And then I just read The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, which I thought was really brilliant as well, but yeah, those were my two best reads recently.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, I love that. Cool. August, this has

Brett Benner:

This was delightful.

August Thompson:

Thank you so much, I know I'm so sad it's over, but I really had the best time, and thank you both for reading, very generous of you.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. Our pleasure. That's what we do. We are gaze reading. August, thank you so much for being here

August Thompson:

Thank you again, both so much.

Jason Blitman:

Everyone, check out Anyone's Ghost in stores and online, wherever you get your books, on July 9th. August, O'Sheen, Solomon, thank you so much for being here. Everyone, make sure

Brett Benner:

Thank you all.

Jason Blitman:

Heavyweight, Evenings and Weekends, and Anyone's Ghost. And we'll see you next week.

Brett Benner:

Bye.

Jason Blitman:

Bye!