Episode 247 — Matthew Specktor

   
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Matthew Specktor is the guest. His novel, American Dream Machine, is now available from Tin House.  (Photo: Lisa Jane Persky.)

Mona Simpson says

Joan Didion prophesied this novel. In an essay called “Los Angeles Days,” published in 1992 in After Henry, she wrote that “Californians until recently spoke of the United States beyond Colorado as ‘back east.’  If they went to New York, they went ‘back’ to New York, a way of speaking that carried with it the suggestion of living on a distant frontier. Calfiornians of my daughter’s generation speak of going ‘Out’ to New York, a meaningful shift in the perception of one’s place in the world.” Specktor’s American Dream Machine may be first literature I’ve read in which Los Angeles is assumed as London is assumed by Dickens and Paris by Proust and New York by a host of twentieth century American writers. There is nothing ironic, ambivalent, or apologetic about Specktor’s relationship to Los Angeles—as it is and was, as myth and as a thriving capitol city. Los Angeles provides an animate pulse under the lives of these men and boys, a source of permanence that lends their struggles gravity and monument.

And David Shields raves

American Dream Machine is the definitive new Hollywood novel. The tone, the pace, the details—everything is just amazingly right. The whole book is charged with the kind of necessity I almost never see in novels anymore. Thrilling.

Monologue topics: being boring, doing things, my neighborhood, my neighbors, Jamon, listener voicemail.