I'll Find Myself When I'm Dead

S4E11 - Revision

This week, we’re talking about revision. We discuss a chapter of Stephen Koch’s The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop that’s one of the better nuts-and-bolts revision guides, common drafting issues, the role of feedback and workshops, why revision is often taught poorly or not at all, and what our processes look like. Also: our recent appearance on a more professional podcast, some sports talk, Mary Karr, Ecco Homo, Van Halen, and more!

Some things we mention:

Book Fight! – https://bookfightpod.com 

Justin’s interview with Tim States for Words & Sports: https://www.wasquarterly.com/offseason/tailgating-with-justin-st-germain# 

Stephen Koch’s The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop (we read Chapter 7: Working and Reworking): https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/94583/the-modern-library-writers-workshop-by-stephen-koch/

S4E10 - March Faxness: the Final Four

This week we’re checking in with March Faxness again, now that the field has narrowed to four songs/essays (including David’s!). We discuss the recent games, preview the semifinals, and make our picks for who’s going to win. Also: Elena takes up a new instrument, we’ve met a lot of Xness writers since our last episode—one of whom, Tim States, we include a mini-interview with—some AWP Philadelphia/Tucson Book Fest talk, a long tangent about the worst movies we’ve ever seen, David’s day on the Indigo Girls tour bus, Neil Gaiman’s wardrobe, and more!

Some things we mention:

All March Faxness essays are available on the site: http://marchxness.com 

Follow March Xness on Twitter: https://twitter.com/marchxness 

Follow David on Twitter: https://twitter.com/elturk7 

Follow Tim States on Twitter: https://twitter.com/epmornsesh

S4E9 - March Faxness Round 1 Recap

This week we’re talking about possibly the best essay-related week of the year: March Faxness round 1, in which 64 essays about cover songs faced off in a tournament. We try to touch on our favorites—although we probably missed some—and discuss the bracket and upcoming games. Also: Elvis Costello gets spicy on Twitter, we all get spicy about the Mountain Goats, dork rodeos, community college bowl, Denry’s back(!), Drake’s reading list, Kamp Kilmer, Justin tries to understand NFTs, Elena explains the Chicken Van, some country music talk, is the shopping cart a dance?, roof-raising techniques, and Elena does mini-covers of Evan Dando, Snow’s “Informer,” and Tom Jones’ “Sex Bomb.”

Some things we mention:

All March Faxness essays are available on the site: http://marchxness.com 

Follow March Xness on Twitter: https://twitter.com/marchxness 

March Faxness Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3rNwexRZ9dmA0nvssrPlDK 

Denry’s March Fadness essay on Snow’s “Informer”: http://marchxness.com/snowvsedwinmccain

S4E8 - March Faxness Preview

This week we’re talking about the real reason this podcast exists: the annual March Xness essay/song tournament, which is about cover songs this year.

Some things we mention:

March Faxness (and the previous tournaments): http://marchxness.com 

Follow March Xness on Twitter: https://twitter.com/marchxness 

March Faxness Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3rNwexRZ9dmA0nvssrPlDK 

Joan Jett’s “Crimson & Clover”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXFra7gjElw 

Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6Q3mHyzn78 

The Cover Me episode about “I Think We’re Alone Now”: https://covermepodcast.podbean.com/e/i-think-were-alone-now-tommy-james-and-the-shondells/

S4E7 - There's No I in Essay

This week we’re talking about essays that aren’t in the first person. Elena picked one example, Eliot Weinberger’s “The Rhinoceros,” and Justin picked another, an excerpt from Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. Also: the new Macbeth, the acting role Elena was recently offered, Elena recites some Lady Macbeth, some Arnold Palmer talk, and a mini-spelling bee.

Some things we mention:

Eliot Weinberger’s “The Rhinoceros”: http://www.rhinoresourcecenter.com/pdf_files/120/1206206707.pdf

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: https://www.graywolfpress.org/books/citizen

Brian Doyle’s “Joyas Voladoras”: https://theamericanscholar.org/joyas-volardores/

S4E6 - The Pushcart Prize 2022

This week we’re talking about this year’s edition of the Pushcart Prize anthology. We compare it to Best American, discuss the important differences, and focus on a few selections from the anthology. Also: Build-A-Bears, Paint & Wine, Burt Reynolds, male pattern baldness, egg donation, BoJack Horseman, some March Faxness warmup talk, and more!

Some things we mention:

The Pushcart Prize: http://www.pushcartprize.com

March Faxness: http://marchxness.com

Kathryn Schulz’s essay on The Great Gatsby (suggested in a listener email): https://www.vulture.com/2013/05/schulz-on-the-great-gatsby.html

“Open House” by Jeremiah Moss: https://www.nplusonemag.com/issue-36/essays/open-house/

“Gutted” by Cathryn Klusmeier: https://agnionline.bu.edu/essay/gutted

S4E5 - Best American Essays 2021

This week we’re talking about this year’s edition of Best American Essays. We compare it to previous years (spoiler: this one is a bummer), discuss the new subgenre of pandemic essays, and focus on a few selections from the anthology. Also: David makes us a pandemic cocktail, Justin’s dog makes a few barky cameos, we (well, one of us) question the entire Best American Essays enterprise, and we do a year-end lightning news/round. See you next year!

(Note: we don’t mention Joan Didion’s death because it occurred the morning after we recorded, but if you’d like to hear some of our previous thoughts on Didion, we did an episode about her latest book earlier this year: http://www.essaypodcast.com/s3-e2-didion-on-writing/)

Some things we mention:

Best American Essays 2021: https://www.hmhbooks.com/shop/books/the-best-american-essays-2021/9780358381754 

Assay’s interview with Robert Atwan, the series editor of Best American Essays: https://www.assayjournal.com/interview-with-robert-atwan-31.html 

Alexander Chee’s link to BAE 2022 submission guidelines: https://twitter.com/alexanderchee/status/1473391913784983553

S4E4 - The Address Book

This week we discuss our first listener pick, Sophie Calle’s “The Address Book,” which was suggested by Will Howard. Also: lots of “Succession” talk (including a couple of potential spoilers), John McPhee’s inscrutable diagrams, more Chekhov, the kids’ music these days, whether we’d want to be address-booked, what we’d say about each other if it happened, Elena makes up a song about the 1985 Chicago Bears, and more! (Also, send us your favorite essays of 2021 for Pushcart nominations.)

Some things we mention:

Sophie Calle’s The Address Book: http://sigliopress.com/book/the-address-book/ 

David Searcy’s book of essays, Shame and Wonder: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/221652/shame-and-wonder-by-david-searcy/

The Jeremy Strong profile from the New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/12/13/on-succession-jeremy-strong-doesnt-get-the-joke

JM Tyree’s The Counterforce: https://www.fictionadvocate.com/product/the-counterforce/ 

The sad and strange case of the Wanda Tinasky letters, which apparently were not written by Pynchon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanda_Tinasky 

The “Claw of Shame” episode of Nathan for You: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRxAkNvnxhI 

John Vaillant’s book The Tiger: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/182226/the-tiger-by-john-vaillant/

S4E3 - Essays About Feelings

This week we discuss our feelings, how to write about feelings, our feelings some more, and two essays about feelings: Jerald Walker’s “Breathe,” and Chris Offutt’s “Trash Food.” (Sorry about the audio quality—we had some tech issues this week.)

Jerald Walker’s “Breathe” in New England Review:


Chris Offutt’s “Trash Food” in Oxford American:


Allen Gee’s “Old School,” the other essay about James Alan Macpherson that we mention. (Excerpt only):


Stephanie Soileau’s book of short stories, Last One Out Shut Off the Lights:


S4E2 - Jeoparello!

This week we discuss the biggest news in the entire world since our last episode—Elena's appearance last week on Jeopardy!

Elena’s episode (until it gets taken down): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExlEesN4Sl8 

Elena’s J-Archive.com contestant page: https://www.j-archive.com/showplayer.php?player_id=14301 

“The Jeopardy! Essay” by Mike Garabedian: https://www.academia.edu/44462679/The_Jeopardy_Essay 

A clip from Mike’s appearance on Jeopardy!: https://www.facebook.com/WhittierCollege/videos/how-smart-are-our-librarians-theyre-jeopardy-smart-heres-a-flashback-to-collecti/1056618957686460/ 

Elena’s Twitter thread about being on Jeopardy!: https://twitter.com/elenavox/status/1458131831308500993 

River City News article re: wrong question: https://www.rcnky.com/articles/2021/11/10/jeopardy-contestant-fail-clue-about-roebling-bridge