We Have This-ness Y’all! Ocean Vuong and Amy E. Elkins

“If you’re going to write in a worthwhile way about something, you have to really understand why you care.”

Season 5 of Novel Dialogue opens with an impassioned refresher course in literary theory brought to you by Ocean Vuong, poet and author of the bestselling novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (2019). Ocean talks with critic Amy E. Elkins and host Emily Hyde about browsing bookstore shelves and building his personal reading list of “life-giving weirdos.” They discuss genre and gender, antiquing and thrifting, fish sauce and photography, all the while integrating the insights of queer theory and the full range of literary history. What does looking at the world as a junkyard have to do with making art? What does it feel like to run smack dab into a memory? How can we be mindful of the fact that words (like “this”) are tiny objects with infinite possibilities? If autofiction annoys you, listen for the how the form reinvents the self against dominant class and gender structures. And if you have any connection at all to Hot Springs, Arkansas, don’t miss this episode!



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View a transcript of the episode here.


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