Fans of John Steinbeck, Woody Allen, David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Franzen, J.D. Salinger, and Ayn Rand would enjoy this podcast. It is a live recording of the Austin Writing Workshop held on June 25, 2014 in balmy Austin, Texas. Included are excerpts from the short stories “The Chrysanthemums” by Steinbeck and “The Stranger” by J.D. Salinger. As a new member recently stated: “This is a refreshingly warm and intelligent group of people with whom to geek the f* out on literature. Hoo-ray, I say!”
0:00 Excerpt from “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck
1:10 Frank’s introduction to the podcast
2:05 Group analysis of an Austin Writing Workshop member’s story, including copyright infringement issues, Randall Jarrell, mixing genres, author goals, fiction versus non-fiction, David Foster Wallace, “The Greatest Generation,” length of details, the firebombing of Dresden in World War II, author generosity, poetry, smoking to avoid the draft, bringing the funny, copper shot jiggers, hiding the most important details of a story, the lasting effects of war, didactic storytelling tactics, explanation of technical details, reader orientation (grounding), achieving goals, Tim O’Brien, Texas State University, beating a dead horse academically, meta-fiction vs. anti-fiction, lack of literary technique, Raymond Carver, tricking soldiers with psychological manipulation, molding (editing), Ernest Hemingway, disappearing narrators, F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby,” Nick Carraway, literary reportage, lack of intimacy, and clarity of narrative details.
36:33 Group analysis of “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck, including old-school realism, imagistic and symbolic details, aesthetics, Vladimir Nabokov, modernism and realism, experimentation, James Joyce, message vs. theme, feminism as a theme/message, oppression of women (patriarchy), novels as a graduate dissertation, bucolic characters and setting, start of the postmodern era, stories as a vehicle for social change, Charlotte Perkins-Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” subtlety and the fine line between revealing as much as you need without being heavy handed, symbolic intent, capturing a setting properly and authentically, exchanging of value, Deus ex Machina, postmodernism, Christianity, Ayn Rand, lipstick or stiletto feminism, Raymond Carver’s “I Could See the Smallest Things,” visceral reactions, masculinity, Henry David Thoreau, Jacques Derrida, the child-like quality of the story, hookers, dialectics, “American Beauty,” themes of discontent and darkness, lost hope stories, garotting of dogs, subtlety of details, subconscious writing, terrier fingers, impotence, predictable endings, finding ways of surprising people in modern times when it’s almost impossible to surprise readers, Weird Al Yankovitz, Franz Kafka, and parallels in the story to Steinbeck’s writing career.
1:10:19 Group analysis of “Manhattan” by Woody Allen (starring Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway, Michael Murphy, and Meryl Streep), including stunning visuals, God complexes, message vs. theme, wide-angle shots, New York City architecture, not interacting with any of the people in Manhattan or New York, neuroticism, lack of cell phones, answering services, statutory rape, state laws about age of consent, New Yorkers living on top of one another, Gershwin, love stories on several levels, plot summary, separation of Woody Allen’s real life antics from the plot of the movie, character likeability, “Annie Hall,” “The Matrix,” “Sideways,” amorality, Donald Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers/racism, Soon Yi Previn, Mia Farrow, reading critiques off the Internet during the meeting, cue cards, TelePrompTers, failing as a stage actor, despicable artists, Frank Sinatra, filming a movie with a lover you’ve just broken up with, continuity errors, Diane Keaton’s hair, the Woody Allen documentary on Netflix, and “Stardust Memories.”
1:30:48 Excerpt from “The Stranger” by J.D. Salinger
1:32:27 A “Promotion” by Frank
1:35:00 End of Podcast