RMSYL 52: Awakening & Guy de Maupassant by Isaac Babel

IsaacBabel “Then I began to speak of style, of the army of words, an army in which all kinds of weapons are on the move. No iron can enter the human heart as chillingly as a full stop placed at the right time. She listened, her head inclined, her painted lips slightly open. A black gleam shone in her lacquered hair, smoothly drawn back and divided by a parting.”



RMSYL 51: A Room Forever by Breece D’J Pancake

a-room-forever“BECAUSE of New Year’s I get the big room, eight-dollar room. But it seems smaller than before; and sitting by the window, looking out on the rain and town, I know the waiting eats at me again.



RMSYL 50: The Plain Sense of Things by Wallace Stevens (read by Josh Cohen)

“Try and imagine what this great pond, quite unglamorous and muddy, this dirty-watered pond looks like when you don’t impose yourself, your whole history, or the history of a culture on it; when you just let yourself see it.”  Josh Cohen

  Josh Cohen is a psychoanalyst in private practice, and Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths University of London. He is the author of Interrupting Auschwitz (2003), How to Read Freud (2005), and The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark (2013) .   DISCUSSED: Definite indefinite plain-ness; slipping on fallen leaves (inside and out); the mind stripped down to its essence; the end of the imagination; the  rescuing As If; counting Cohen’s innards;  the fierce desire of speaking; staying true to what-is; the emotional pressure to find the words; father to a sister of a thought; the necessity of fantastic failed efforts; the illusion of fullness; deprivation as a first condition; carrying the minor house within; getting to grips with our unsurpassables; rat-vision; the reassuring loopiness of the self; hopefully in the dark. LINKS:

Read ‘The Plain Sense of Things’ online.
Buy The Private Life: Why We Remain In The Dark.
Read the tiny Lydia Davis story ‘What She Knew” mentioned in our discussion.

RMSYL 49: Mount Appetite by Bill Gaston (read by DW Wilson)

It seems kind of fitting that I first heard DW Wilson’s prize-winning[1] short story The Dead Roads about this time last September, midway through a ten-mile hike through the Chilterns. Even more fitting would have been to listen or read it whilst out camping in his beloved Canadian Rockies. One day. Sometimes when creating these podcasts, I have to leave dozens of glittering minutes of conversation on the cutting room floor in order to get an episode that isn’t going to tire out the average listener. This time round I thought I might offer it as an Extra for those who are interested to hear Dave speak a bit more about his connection to Bill Gaston and what he learnt from him. He also makes some incredibly interesting comments about the craft of writing a good short story, delivered with his usual witty candour and no-bullshit proclivities. DW Wilson’s fantastic collection of short Stories Once You Break A Knuckle is out now. Bill Gaston’s equally fantastic collection of short stories Mount Appetite is also out now.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Wilson won last year’s prestigious BBC National Short Story Award.

RMSYL 48: Gemma Seltzer reads Tom-Rock Through the Eels by Amy Hempel

gemma seltzerGemma Seltzer is cool. I am probably not the first person to arrive at this estimation of her, and I shall no doubt be one of a very orderly queue lining up to say so now and in the future. Her book  Speak To Strangers has everything in it that I find exciting and compelling about creative nonfiction. Which some people call docufiction. Anyway, one of those reality-hungry hybrids. You’d probably just call it great writing if you were to read it, which you should, which it is – formulated around a beautifully simple and elegant notion. This short story has nothing to do with E’s Eels (those Novocaine For The Soul Eels), but you still might need some 2-(diethylamino)ethyl 4-aminobenzoate after listening. It’s powerful stuff. That’s what we dispense over here at RMYSL The Chemist.