RMSYL 31: 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 30: 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.


RMSYL 29: A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka (read by Kevin Porter)

The covenant of RMSYL has always been that of Mo going to the Mountain. Mo to the Mou, if you like. If you get in touch, and invite me round for a cuppa, as long as you don’t live in Timbuktu, I’ll be there (with a packet of biscuits[1]). But it’s also pretty darn special when the Mou comes to Mo. In this case, the Mou not only came to Mo, he came all the way from Wo. Wolverhampton that is. Well, pretty much so. The mountain didn’t of course come down from Wo just for Mo, he also came for Mu and , and ended up listening to a recording of some Dub. But that’s a tale for the next podcast. Regardless of where the Mou came from, it was a pleasure hanging out in his mountainous heights, depths, and Black Country vowels. I’m hoping to tempt him down again with a verse-reciting gig in a neo-Gothic chapel for National Poetry Day,  where he might wrap those multi-syllabizing, Wulfrunian vocal cords around 60 sonnety lines of Derek Mahon’s ‘Disused Shed in Co. Wexford’ (Mou has been memorising Ma and writing about this the last couple of weeks – a very good read that is too).

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. From Waitrose, if you’re lucky.

RMSYL 28: Incarnations of Burned Children by David Foster Wallace (read by Alex Preston)

Whenever I meet flesh-encased authors, I need to be careful not to refer to them by the book-embedded appelations I hold of them in my head.

Alex Preston is of course Alex ‘TBC’ Preston. Not because he is forever awaiting confirmation, but because his name is, for me, synonymous with This Bleeding City.

So how annoying when these livingbreathing writing folk then go and produce further novels, requiring redrafts of psychic categories. Continue reading


RMSYL 27: Twirling at Ole Miss by Terry Southern (read by Gideon Lewis-Kraus)

Gideon Lewis-Kraus reading Terry Southern

I dislike travel writing about temples, or churches, or mosques, or architecture in general, or, for that matter, trees, or trains, or roads, and especially the Khyber Pass; in fact I think I only like travel writing when it’s not about travel at all but rather about friendship, lies, digression, amateurism, trains, and sex.” Gideon Lewis-Kraus


Gideon Lewis-Kraus is the author of A Sense of Direction, a travel memoir (of sorts). He has written for numerous US publications, including Harper’s, The Believer, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, and others.


Gideon’s website: http://www.gideonlk.com/
Read Terry Southern’s Twirling at Ole Miss in full: http://bit.ly/O7ceVG

RMSYL 26: The Garden Party (read by Emily Midorikawa) vs. Mrs Dalloway (read by Emma Claire Sweeney)

Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa reading

“Because our friendship has been so important to our progress as  writers (as well as human beings), we wanted to find out about friendships between other female authors we loved. We all know quite a lot about male writer friends: Wordsworth & Coleridge, Hemingway & Fitzgerald. But who was Jane Austen’s friend? Who was George Eliot’s? Emma Claire Sweeney & Emily Midorikawa


Emily Midorikawa is a half-English, half-Japanese writer of novels, short stories and non-fiction. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia and her work has been published in, amongst others, Aesthetica, Mslexia, The Telegraph, and The Times. She teaches creative writing at City University London, New York University in London and the Open University.

Emma Claire Sweeney’s short stories have been published in the UK, Ireland and the USA. She combines writing with university lecturing, community based writing residencies, and mentoring and editing services for emerging writers. Her current writing, research, and residencies all relate to links between narrative and learning disability.

DISCUSSED: what makes prose timeless; interpersonal warmth & class tension; bang slap etymologies; transgressing boundaries; opposites attract and refract; the perfect segue; SW nails his colours to the mast; ECS does some judicious defending of VW; the Desert Island Discs question; Something Rhymed; gender differences in accomodating competition in friendships


Emma’s website: http://emmaclairesweeney.com/writing/
Emily’s website: http://emilymidorikawa.com/
Something Rhymed: http://somethingrhymed.com/

RMSYL 25: Power Lunching by E.Melvin Pinsel (read by Brian Lobel)

Brian Lobel Reading From Power Lunching by E Marvin Pinsel“The problem the whole book presents is that it’s trying to give you a strategy for getting what you want: out of people, out of things, out of a seat, an outfit, a drink. I hope, personally, my own agenda is a little bit more outward-facing.” Brian Lobel


Brian Lobel create performances about bodies: politicized bodies, marginalized bodies, dancing and singing bodies, happy bodies, sick bodies and bodies that need a little extra love. 

DISCUSSED: C-word alert (not cancer) ; existential #fail; power showers; my father for instance; charisma; I think about it every day; focus; playing games with hierarchy; the powerless pleasures of pyjama-time; aah…exhalation; our fantasies of invisible work/lavatories/side stands; how to get out of Siberia; deep vs. shallow relating; In Bed With Brian; schmoozing vs. networking; transactional loopholes that (might) lead to connection; barking teachers; the guest’s agenda


Brian’s website: http://www.blobelwarming.com
Buy “Power Lunching”

Short Story Masterclass Series

I’ve been on a bit of a RMSYL hiatus in the last few months, but new episodes to come soon.

Until then, if you’re missing listening to people reading you things they like -even if in this case the things happen to be their own writing- here are some interviews I did for Thresholds talking to a variety of interesting writers about their short story output .

Interview with Sarah Hall for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with Margaret Drabble for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with Joseph O’Connell for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with with Michèle Roberts for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with David Vann for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with Deborah Levy for Thresholds/Small Wonder

RMSYL 24: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (read by David Shields)

“We’re all bozos on this bus. We’re all lost, we’re all confused, we’re all presenting a civilized veneer. But in our own hearts, we’re all kind of madmen in various ways. ”  David Shields


David Shields is the author of fourteen books, including How Literature Saved My Life and  Salinger (with Shane Salerno), both published this year. Also, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Knopf, 2010), named one of the best books of the year by more than thirty publications and kick-starter for our Reality Hunger Reading Creative Nonfiction Reading Group.

DISCUSSED: Building A Bridge Across The Existential Abyss of Loneliness; Let’s Not Get Past The Contrivance; Compression, Concision & Velocity; Enough With The Furniture Moving Already; Warp Speed Culture; Gun To The Head Prose; Vonnegut’s Jaunty Tone; The Trapdoors to Howling Despair; Clear Thinking About Mixed Feelings; Loyal To The Moment Texts; Putting Your Intimate Cards On The Table; Stuttering as an Existential Gift; The Mirror Turn Lamp

David’s website: http://davidshields.com/
Read the first chapter of Slaughterhouse-Five: http://bit.ly/XoBxTv

RMSYL 23: Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan (read by Vera Chok)

“There’s so much naughtiness and pleasure in overturning the ridiculousness of taking ourselves so seriously.”  Vera Chok                                                 

Vera Chok is a stage and screen actress from Malaysia who is based in the UK. Vera trained at The Poor School and Ecole Philippe Gaulier and has appeared in productions such as Mansfield Park & Ride (2010), Uncle Vanya (2010), The Firework-maker’s Daughter (2011), and Chimerica (2013).

DISCUSSED: What Does Richard Brautigan Taste Like?; Exciting Familiarity Versus Unfamiliar Excitement; Trout-Based 60s Cornerstones; Marston Bates (File Under: Captain Pugwash?); Finding a Rationale for Culture; Serious Questions or “Serious Questions” (i.e. Silliness); Chok-Inspired Neolexia; Chasing the Mayonaise/Mayonnaise; The Upsetting Space of Beauty; Bygone Names; Ambivalent Mayonnaise; Caring Mayonnaise; Mayonnaise As The Ultimate Signifier.

Vera: http://www.verachok.com/
TwitterChok: https://twitter.com/Vera_Chok
The Brautigan Book Club: http://www.brautiganbookclub.co.uk/