Episode 90 — Christopher Beha


Christopher Beha is the guest. He’s an associate editor at Harper’s magazine and the author of the debut novel What Happened to Sophie Wilder, now available from Tin House Books.

Raves Shelf Awareness:

Christopher Beha’s short but intricately constructed first novel tells the story of two young writers struggling to discover their personal and professional identities, but it’s not another excursion through the world of New York’s literati. Instead, What Happened to Sophie Wilder is a somber character study focused on the problem of human suffering, the nature of religious belief and the acceptance of moral responsibility.

And William Giraldi, author of Busy Monsters, says

What Happened to Sophie Wilder is an imperishable gift of storytelling, a novel built sturdily of wisdom, beauty, and love. Christopher R. Beha writes with Jamesian sophistication about the enduring enigma of our inner lives, and the result is a title character who will dwell in you always.

Topics of conversation include: breakfast, focus, hunger, dreams, isolation, writing longhand, email, Twitter, speed, e-readers, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, internal debates, the canon, reading, the Harvard Classics, The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, great books, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, new vs. old, Plato, knowledge, physics, Newton, Einstein, mystery, breakthroughs, humility, lymphoma, foxholes, Princeton, Lyme Disease, Catholicism, atheism, Bertrand Russell, God, dualism, Marilynne Robinson, memoir vs. fiction, suffering, perspective, discovery, New York writers, ego, mood swings, The Beats, Jack Kerouac, writing better than you are, Upper East Side, family, twins, cars, urban childhoods, Long Island, nostalgia, Brooklyn, Dharma Bums, chemotherapy, stoicism, plans, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Monologue topics:  attention, procrastination, frustration, concentrating like a laser on the task at hand, progress, creative output, and my dad.