Episode 146 — James Lasdun


James Lasdun is the guest. He is the author of two novels, four collections of poetry, and two collections of short stories, including the collection The Siege, the title story of which was made into a film by Bernardo Bertolucci (Besieged). With Jonathan Nossiter he co-wrote the films Sunday, which won Best Feature and Best Screenplay awards at Sundance, and Signs and Wonders, starring Charlotte Rampling and Stellan Skarsgaard.  His new book, Give Me Everything You Have, is a memoir published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

J.M. Coetzee says

Give Me Everything You Have is a reminder, as if any were needed, of how easily, since the arrival of the Internet, our peace can be troubled and our good name besmirched.

And Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, says

Lasdun’s tale of being stalked is only part of the story—his disembodied, if mentally violent, encounters with ‘Nasreen,’ his stalker, lead him to reflect on topics as diverse as the seductive power of literature, like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the writings of D.H. Lawrence, and his father’s work as an architect in Israel and the aggressively anti-Semitic response it provoked. The ‘verbal terrorism’ (Nasreen’s phrase) escalates as the book goes on, but it’s almost a red herring—it is indeed terrifying, and as the stalker becomes more sophisticated, she begins tormenting his friends and colleagues. But Lasdun is able to see past the surface-level effects of her attacks to the desperate and pitiable person behind them. This subtle, compassionate take on the subject is rife with insights into the current cyberculture’s cult of anonymity, as well as the power, failure, and magic of writing.

Monologue topics: Julian Tepper, Philip Roth, bleakness, cynicism, writing, awfulness, the ability to change your fundamental nature.