The Austin Writing Workshop returns from hiatus to discuss a piece of micro-fiction and then “The Laughing Man” by J.D. Salinger. Buy Nine Stories here. Click here to read what Goodreads readers have to say about the story (and compare/contrast with the AWW! For funsies!)
Approximate time stamps and micro-descriptions of topics discussed are provided below.
0:00 Excerpt from “The Laughing Man” by J.D. Salinger
2:14 Ad for INFINITE ENDING by Frank “Zeus” Marcopolos
2:49 Podcast introduction
3:47 Live reading of “The Hairbrush”
7:09 Group analysis of “The Hairbrush,” including brevity, microfiction, dog-world, wistfulness, plot summary, invisible narrator, putting up with the story, evoking of emotion, being mawkish, avoiding mawkishness, making obvious choices, mysteries or the lack thereof, limitations of human knowledge, epistimology, death, the unknowable, the true nature of reality, narrative technique of mysteries, organic introduction, the question of the MONKEY STORY, explanation of what a monkey story is, avarice, Rock Springs by Richard Ford, carelessness, details that don’t match, Nabokov, Humboldt’s Gift, ethereal theme-connected details, Cinema Paradiso, Fillini, Bergman, Through the Glass Darkly, hats and clouds, needing a chalkboard, finding the complexity within a story, and anonymous bylines. 29:51
34:34 Group analysis of “The Laughing Man” by J.D. Salinger, including frame stories, John Updike, typical Salinger styles, plot summary, Hollywood endings, non-literary themes, Ernest Hemingway, idealism, coming of age, over-idealizing things, The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, Franny and Zooey, The Catcher in the Rye, Seymour Glass, A Perfect Day for Bananafish, 1984, Huckleberry Finn, overt theme, the power of art to be existentially redemptive, symbolism, deconstructing the ending, art and life intersecting, subtle theme of natural versus supernatural, dualism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Scientology, Mary Hudson as the symbol of the natural, the laughing man as a symbol of the supernatural, political theme, geographical symbolism, being from New York, marrying up in class, seeing the dentist quote-unquote, abortion, message, power of art failing to be redemptive, unmasking of the true reality of life, organic theme of loss of innocence, and becoming a man, comedy within the story, style as technique, Salinger’s fame, Salinger’s reputation, Hemingway’s reputation, the Salinger vault, and David Foster Wallace.
1:03:18 End of podcast