Literature

The Joy of Serious Literature

Bryant Alan Davis

The internet's last best hope for the cultural redemption of literary criticism.

Episodes

Episode 7 | One Single Haiku by Richard Wright | Haiku #31 by Richard Wright
27:14
2017-09-28 08:11:46 UTC 27:14
Episode 7 | One Single Haiku by Richard Wright | Haiku #31 by Richard Wright

Have you ever read a poem and then, without even realizing it, discover that it has implanted itself in your mind forever? For the last twelve years, there has hardly been a month where I haven’t thought at least twice about a single haiku written by Richard Wright in the last months before his death. Somber and yet joyous, imprisoning and yet liberating, its word and image have become a permanent part of who I am as a person. In this episode, I explore that poem, it’s troubled author, and its relationship to this particular literary critic at tremendous depth, and, through that depth, come to better understand why it is that literature counts for so much in the architecture of human civilization. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the Joy of Serious Literature, you can contact me via email at vainlydrabsatan@gmail.com or find me on twitter at @vainlydrabsatan.

Episode 6 | The Wages of Ugliness | The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima
41:04
2017-09-28 08:11:46 UTC 41:04
Episode 6 | The Wages of Ugliness | The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima

On November 25th, 1970, the leading East Asian contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature tried to overthrow the Japanese government in a dramatic coup d'état. Failing at this, he then committed suicide via a combination of disembowelment and beheading. For more than fifty years, Yukio Mishima's life and death have defined Japanese literature. But what about the actual writing? What made this man so magnetic? So popular? So powerful? So determined to die in the most ostentatious way possible? To help understand these questions, Bryant takes us on a exploration of his fascinating, harrowing novel, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea.

Episode 5 | What Makes a Genius Writer a Genius? | Report on the Thing by Clarice Lispector
18:44
2017-09-28 08:11:46 UTC 18:44
Episode 5 | What Makes a Genius Writer a Genius? | Report on the Thing by Clarice Lispector

What makes the "genius writer" actually a genius? What does it even mean to be a "genius"? How does genius manifest itself on the page? When I think of these questions, a writer comes to mind: the Brazilian novelist, housewife, and national hero Clarice Lispector. Never was a writer more audacious, never was a writer more mindbogglingly strange. To understand her and genius itself, all we need to do is look at one single short story, Report on the Thing, about a woman deep in a metaphysical love affair with an alarm clock. You can read a translation of Report on the Thing for free on Vice Magazine's website: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/read-this-story-by-clarice-lispector-report-on-the-thing-777 You can also contact the man behind the Joy of Serious Literature by emailing him at vainlydrabsatan@gmail.com. Thanks for listening.

Episode 4 | I Am Not Your Theologian | Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin
28:01
2017-09-28 08:11:46 UTC 28:01
Episode 4 | I Am Not Your Theologian | Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin

When we talk about James Baldwin, we always talk about him in terms of America's racial politics. But Baldwin was more than just America's greatest racial pundit--he was one of America's finest novelists. In this episode, we examine his first novel: Go Tell It on the Mountain, the story of a young black boy trying to survive under the crushing weight of his father's draconian vision of Christianity. Both brilliant and beautiful, the novel tries to get at the heart of a question perhaps even more difficult than race--the nature of religion. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or denunciations you'd like to offer in response to this, or any, episode of the Joy of Serious Literature, please send them to me at vainlydrabsatan@gmail.com. If you right a really interesting or brutal critique, I promise to read and respond to you in a future podcast. Godspeed and thanks for listening.

Episode 3 | Lu Xun and the Birth of Modern Chinese Litereature | The Real Story of Ah-Q by Lu Xun
30:26
2017-09-28 08:11:46 UTC 30:26
Episode 3 | Lu Xun and the Birth of Modern Chinese Litereature | The Real Story of Ah-Q by Lu Xun

Lu Xun was China's first great modern writer. He invented the Chinese short story. He revolutionized the Chinese language. He diagnosed the vast array of social and spiritual problems that had led China, in the early 20th century, to the brink of ruin. Above ad beyond all of his innumerable essays and stories, the Real Story of Ah-Q is widely regarded to be Lu Xun's finest work. Set during the dying days of the Qing Dynasty, the Real Story of Ah-Q tells of the numerous victories, triumphs, and heroics of a drunken, moronic peasant laborer in a rural in Chinese village, and in doing so becomes one of literature's greatest works of civilizational satire. Also if you have any questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, or denunciations you'd like to share with the man behind the Joy of Serious Literature, he can now be reached at vainlydrabsatan@gmail.com.

Episode 2 | The Tyranny of Conformity | The Vegetarian by Han Kang
33:21
2017-09-28 08:11:46 UTC 33:21
Episode 2 | The Tyranny of Conformity | The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Somewhere deep in Korea, a woman decides to become a vegetarian and thereby ruins the lives of everyone around her. Her husband's career is ruined. Her sister's marriage is ruined. Even her own life ultimately ends up annihilated. Why? Because there is nothing more evil in the world than difference. A caustic sledgehammer to the face. The winner of the Man Booker International Prize.

Episode 1: The Prefiguration of Lalo Cura by Roberto Bolaño
18:23
2017-09-28 08:11:46 UTC 18:23
Episode 1: The Prefiguration of Lalo Cura by Roberto Bolaño

We begin small--with a single short story by Latin America's greatest 21st century novelist, Roberto Bolaño. Consisting solely of a monologue half-spoken and half-screamed at us by a cartel hitman born into the Colombian underground porn industry, "The Prefiguration Lalo Cura" forces us to reconsider the place of pornography within the pantheon of art, to think carefully about what it is exactly that allows some movies to be transformed into films, and gaze deeply into the realization that the difference between sanity and insanity might only be a close encounter with a particular penis while still germinating in your mother's womb.

Episode 0: An Introduction
04:42
2017-09-28 08:11:46 UTC 04:42
Episode 0: An Introduction

In this short episode, our host, interlocutor, and all around bookish nerd, Bryant Davis, introduces his podcast's hopes, dreams, and ambitions. What are those hopes, dreams, and ambitions? To provide the podcast listening world with a death-defyingly intelligent and (hopefully) entertaining discussion of all the wonderful little clumps of words we call literature.

Episode 7 | One Single Haiku by Richard Wright | Haiku #31 by Richard Wright
27:14
2017-10-07 18:23:03 UTC 27:14
Episode 7 | One Single Haiku by Richard Wright | Haiku #31 by Richard Wright

Have you ever read a poem and then, without even realizing it, discover that it has implanted itself in your mind forever? For the last twelve years, there has hardly been a month where I haven’t thought at least twice about a single haiku written by Richard Wright in the last months before his death. Somber and yet joyous, imprisoning and yet liberating, its word and image have become a permanent part of who I am as a person. In this episode, I explore that poem, it’s troubled author, and its relationship to this particular literary critic at tremendous depth, and, through that depth, come to better understand why it is that literature counts for so much in the architecture of human civilization. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the Joy of Serious Literature, you can contact me via email at vainlydrabsatan@gmail.com or find me on twitter at @vainlydrabsatan.

Episode 6 | The Wages of Ugliness | The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima
41:04
2017-10-07 18:23:03 UTC 41:04
Episode 6 | The Wages of Ugliness | The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima

On November 25th, 1970, the leading East Asian contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature tried to overthrow the Japanese government in a dramatic coup d'état. Failing at this, he then committed suicide via a combination of disembowelment and beheading. For more than fifty years, Yukio Mishima's life and death have defined Japanese literature. But what about the actual writing? What made this man so magnetic? So popular? So powerful? So determined to die in the most ostentatious way possible? To help understand these questions, Bryant takes us on a exploration of his fascinating, harrowing novel, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea.

Episode 5 | What Makes a Genius Writer a Genius? | Report on the Thing by Clarice Lispector
18:44
2017-10-07 18:23:03 UTC 18:44
Episode 5 | What Makes a Genius Writer a Genius? | Report on the Thing by Clarice Lispector

What makes the "genius writer" actually a genius? What does it even mean to be a "genius"? How does genius manifest itself on the page? When I think of these questions, a writer comes to mind: the Brazilian novelist, housewife, and national hero Clarice Lispector. Never was a writer more audacious, never was a writer more mindbogglingly strange. To understand her and genius itself, all we need to do is look at one single short story, Report on the Thing, about a woman deep in a metaphysical love affair with an alarm clock. You can read a translation of Report on the Thing for free on Vice Magazine's website: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/read-this-story-by-clarice-lispector-report-on-the-thing-777 You can also contact the man behind the Joy of Serious Literature by emailing him at vainlydrabsatan@gmail.com. Thanks for listening.

Episode 4 | I Am Not Your Theologian | Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin
28:01
2017-10-07 18:23:03 UTC 28:01
Episode 4 | I Am Not Your Theologian | Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin

When we talk about James Baldwin, we always talk about him in terms of America's racial politics. But Baldwin was more than just America's greatest racial pundit--he was one of America's finest novelists. In this episode, we examine his first novel: Go Tell It on the Mountain, the story of a young black boy trying to survive under the crushing weight of his father's draconian vision of Christianity. Both brilliant and beautiful, the novel tries to get at the heart of a question perhaps even more difficult than race--the nature of religion. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or denunciations you'd like to offer in response to this, or any, episode of the Joy of Serious Literature, please send them to me at vainlydrabsatan@gmail.com. If you right a really interesting or brutal critique, I promise to read and respond to you in a future podcast. Godspeed and thanks for listening.

Episode 3 | Lu Xun and the Birth of Modern Chinese Litereature | The Real Story of Ah-Q by Lu Xun
30:26
2017-10-07 18:23:03 UTC 30:26
Episode 3 | Lu Xun and the Birth of Modern Chinese Litereature | The Real Story of Ah-Q by Lu Xun

Lu Xun was China's first great modern writer. He invented the Chinese short story. He revolutionized the Chinese language. He diagnosed the vast array of social and spiritual problems that had led China, in the early 20th century, to the brink of ruin. Above ad beyond all of his innumerable essays and stories, the Real Story of Ah-Q is widely regarded to be Lu Xun's finest work. Set during the dying days of the Qing Dynasty, the Real Story of Ah-Q tells of the numerous victories, triumphs, and heroics of a drunken, moronic peasant laborer in a rural in Chinese village, and in doing so becomes one of literature's greatest works of civilizational satire. Also if you have any questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, or denunciations you'd like to share with the man behind the Joy of Serious Literature, he can now be reached at vainlydrabsatan@gmail.com.

Episode 2 | The Tyranny of Conformity | The Vegetarian by Han Kang
33:21
2017-10-07 18:23:03 UTC 33:21
Episode 2 | The Tyranny of Conformity | The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Somewhere deep in Korea, a woman decides to become a vegetarian and thereby ruins the lives of everyone around her. Her husband's career is ruined. Her sister's marriage is ruined. Even her own life ultimately ends up annihilated. Why? Because there is nothing more evil in the world than difference. A caustic sledgehammer to the face. The winner of the Man Booker International Prize.

Episode 1: The Prefiguration of Lalo Cura by Roberto Bolaño
18:23
2017-10-07 18:23:03 UTC 18:23
Episode 1: The Prefiguration of Lalo Cura by Roberto Bolaño

We begin small--with a single short story by Latin America's greatest 21st century novelist, Roberto Bolaño. Consisting solely of a monologue half-spoken and half-screamed at us by a cartel hitman born into the Colombian underground porn industry, "The Prefiguration Lalo Cura" forces us to reconsider the place of pornography within the pantheon of art, to think carefully about what it is exactly that allows some movies to be transformed into films, and gaze deeply into the realization that the difference between sanity and insanity might only be a close encounter with a particular penis while still germinating in your mother's womb.

Episode 0: An Introduction
04:42
2017-10-07 18:23:03 UTC 04:42
Episode 0: An Introduction

In this short episode, our host, interlocutor, and all around bookish nerd, Bryant Davis, introduces his podcast's hopes, dreams, and ambitions. What are those hopes, dreams, and ambitions? To provide the podcast listening world with a death-defyingly intelligent and (hopefully) entertaining discussion of all the wonderful little clumps of words we call literature.