Patricia Lockwood is a poet and essayist. Her new book is Priestdaddy: A Memoir.

“[Prose writing is] strange to me as a poet. I’m like, ‘Well I guess I’ll tell you just what happened then.’ But the humor has to be there as well. Because in my family household…the absurdity or the surrealism that we have is in reaction to the craziness of the household. So something like your underwear-clad father with his hand in a vat of pickles, sitting in a room full of $10,000 guitars and telling you that he can’t afford to send you to college—that’s bad. That’s a sad scene. But it’s also totally a lunatic scene. It’s, just the very fact of it, all these accoutrements, all the elements of the scene—they are funny.”

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Direct download: Ep._250_-_Patricia_Lockwood_-_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:30pm EDT

John Grisham is the author of 38 books, including his latest novel, Camino Island.

A Time to Kill didn’t sell. It just didn’t sell. There was never any talk of going back for a second printing. No talk of paper back. No foreign deal. It was a flop. And I told my wife, I said, ‘Look, I’m gonna do it one more time. I’m gonna write one more book…hopefully something more commercial, more accessible, more popular. If this doesn’t work, forget this career. Forget this hobby. I’m just gonna be a lawyer and get on with it.”

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Direct download: Ep._249_-_John_Grisham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:37am EDT

Erin Lee Carr is a documentary filmmaker and writer. Her new film is Mommy Dead and Dearest.

“I feel like I’ve always had the story down—that’s not been really difficult for me. So the difficult thing, I think, for me, has always been access. Can I get the access? Can I withstand the pressure? You know, there’s been so many times where I wasn’t being paid to do the job, and I had to wait on the access. And it’s not for the faint of heart. You know, I could have spent a year and a half of my life doing [Mommy Dead and Dearest] and I could’ve not gotten the access to Gypsy, and it kind of would’ve been a wash.”

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Direct download: Ep._248_-_Erin_Lee_Carr.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:27pm EDT

Ariel Levy, a New Yorker staff writer, is the author of The Rules Do Not Apply.

“I don’t believe in ‘would this’ and ‘would that.’ There’s no ‘everything happens for a reason.’ Everything happens, and then you just fucking deal. I mean we could play that game with everything, but time only moves in one direction. That’s a bad game. You shouldn’t play that game—you’ll break your own heart.”

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Direct download: Ep._247_-_Ariel_Levy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:26pm EDT

Jeffrey Gettleman is the East Africa Bureau Chief for the New York Times and the author of Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival.

“I’m not an adventure-seeking adrenaline junky. I like to explore new worlds, but I’m not one of these chain-smoking, hard-drinking, partying types that just wants thrills all the time. And unfortunately that’s an aspect of the job. And as I get older and I’ve been through more and more, the question gets louder. Which is: Why do you keep doing this? Because you feel like you only have so many points, and eventually the points are going to run out.”

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Direct download: Ep._246_-_Jeffrey_Gettleman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:18pm EDT

Rafe Bartholomew is the former features editor at Grantland and the author of Two and Two: McSorley’s, My Dad, and Me.

“I never saw it as something negative because [my dad] comes out, to me, at the end, extremely heroic. … He becomes this dad who I idolized as a bartender, a guy who would hang out with me and make me laugh, a guy I just adored almost every step of the way. I mean, of course, everybody gets into fights. But to me it was always so obvious that he had overcome the problems in his childhood, he’d overcome his own drinking problem, he’d done all these things, and by the time I was older, he’d even found a way to get back into writing and self-publish a couple of books of poems about the bar. So he’s sort of managed to tick off all those goals, just maybe not on the same schedule, maybe not in the most normal way.”

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Direct download: Ep._245_-_Rafe_Bartholomew.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:32pm EDT

Nick Bilton is a special correspondent for Vanity Fair and the author of American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road.

“I’ve been covering tech for a long, long time. And the thing I’ve always tried to do is cover the people of the tech culture, not the tech itself. … I've always been interested in the good and bad side of technology. A lot of times the problem in Silicon Valley is that people come up with a good idea that’s supposed to do a good thing—you know, to change the world and make it a better place. And it ends up inevitably having a recourse that they don’t imagine.”

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Direct download: Ep._244_-_Nick_Bilton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:19pm EDT

Samin Nosrat is a food writer, educator, and chef. Her new book is Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking.

“I kind of couldn’t exist as just a cook or a writer. I kind of need to be both. Because they fulfill these two totally different parts of myself and my brain. Cooking is really social, it’s very physical, and also you don’t have any time to become attached to your product. You hand it off and somebody eats it, and literally tomorrow it’s shit. … Whereas with writing, it’s the exact opposite. It’s super solitary. It’s super cerebral. And you have all the time in the world to get attached to your thing and freak out about it.”

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Direct download: Ep._243_-_Samin_Nosrat.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:21pm EDT

Sarah Menkedick is a freelance writer and the founder of Vela. Her upcoming book is Homing Instincts: Early Motherhood on a Midwestern Farm.

“I’d been rejected a ton of times—I had that 400-page thing that never became a book. So there were plenty of epic rejections that felt catastrophic. And I’d sort of arrived at this point where I was like: I’m living in my parents' cabin, and I’m pregnant, so whatever. Fuck it. I’m gonna write whatever I want to write.”

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Direct download: Ep._242_-_Sarah_Menkedick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:36pm EDT

David Grann is a staff writer at The New Yorker. His new book is Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.

“The more stories I reported over time, the more I just realized there are parts of the story I can’t always get to. You know, unless this is a reality show and there’s 18 cameras in every room, and people [talk] before they sleep, and maybe you have some mind-bug in their brain for their unconscious, there are just parts you’re just not gonna know. You get as close as you can. And so the struggle to me is to get as close as I can, to peel it back as close as I can, but understanding that there will be elements, there will be pieces, that will remain lingering doubts.”

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Direct download: Ep._241_-_David_Grann.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:54pm EDT