It’s Thursday morning, I’m in New York to do a series of events that I’ll blog about—a book club taped for Long Island TV, two bookstore appearances, and a benefit for The East Hampton Library—but in the meantime, I wanted to direct readers to several interesting pieces of media about the novel.
First, my interview with Ed Champion from The Bat Segundo Show is up, and I highly recommend it. Champion read the novel twice before we spoke, and given the interviews I’ve listened to on his site, this isn’t out of the ordinary: he brings a meticulous, deep level of preparation to these talks, which led, in my case, to the most in-depth discussion of the intertexual use of Hitchcock in Mr. Peanut that I’ve had the pleasure of participating in so far (and which still is only a starting point). If, perhaps, the interview seems at times esoteric or highfalutin, it is, but it’s also unapologetically so, and what Champion does here is treat the novel as a whole, giving its formal strategy a great deal of respect, wrestling with it as opposed to breaking it down into its constituent parts and comparing them to each other. (It’s worth noting that Champion found the Sheppard section far too long, for instance, but he never mentions this in his interview. He simply wants to get at what the novel is trying to say, and what more can a writer hope for?) Consequently, we’re able to talk about what it might mean, for instance, that the Hastroll section is so short; or it might answer why David has no history, seems at times a cipher, with a far less rich inner life than Marilyn or Sam Sheppard, for instance. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the guy is a treasure to the book world, just as Robert Birnbaum, Stephen Usery, Leonard Lopate, or Bill Edwards are as well. They give books and writers their due.
Another terrific talk about the book just appeared on Slate’s DoubleX audio book blog. The discussion is lively, the observations by the participants—Hanna Rosin, Emily Bazelon, and Margaret Talbot—are brilliant, sympathetic, synthetic, humorous, critical, glowing, occasionally obtuse (it’s a novel, not a self-help book), off base (misogynist?), and spot-on, but always, again, respectful, especially of the book’s ambitiousness. I’m thrilled and flattered that they decided to include it on their program. Although my response to the show preceded its airing, that response is worth reading, but only after you’ve read Mr. Peanut, because it contains numerous spoilers, as does the book talk.
Last but not least, Mr. Peanut was shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, and what can I say? It’s thrilling, humbling, and means that there’s a one-in-seven chance that they like me, they really, really, like me…