Thanks to my 7th grade teacher, I’ve been obsessed with Kurt Vonnegut and truth-tellers for my entire life. On this podcast Kurt Vonnegut Radio, we enter the hearts and minds of some of the great truth-tellers of our time. This podcast will always be free, but it’s also how I buy groceries.
Today, , author and prof at Columbia University’s MFA program, joins me for a fun deep convo that contains many treasures. –
Welcome to episode #42 of Kurt Vonnegut radio!
Our guest today is
Lincoln Michel’s most recent novel is The Body Scout which The New York Times called “Timeless and original…a wild ride, sad and funny, surreal and intelligent.”
Lincoln writes the very smart cool soulful newsletter for writers.
Lincoln Michel is one of my all-time favorite authors and cultural thinkers. He’s what you’d call a distinguished person of letters for the digital age (but in the least boring way possible). He’s witty AF, definitely knows his way around a joke, has deep literary and cultural knowledge, and a profound love for Weird Fiction. He’s always fighting the good fight, and I don’t say that about many people.
Lincoln also recently sold his next novel, My Metallic Realms:
Lincoln Michel is a big part of what is best about our literary culture right now. So today on the show, me and Lincoln chop it up about Franz Kafka, Italo Calvino, Diane Williams and her lit journal Noon, the Sentence Forward aesthetic, how Lincoln grows and plots (or doesn’t plot) his newsletter on Substack, flash fiction, Dave Eggers,, Ben Marcus, , Sam Lipsyte, Gordon Lish, David Lynch, the future of online literary discourse, artistic restlessness, the Surrealists, Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, Brian Evenson’s new horror-themed issue of McSweeney’s, , , , and Lincoln’s One Good Optimistic Thing (can you guess what it is?)
So please, join me now as we enter the heart and mind of one of the great writers and editors of our time: Lincoln Michel.
Lincoln Michel quotes, from our convo
On his online effort to demystify the publishing industry
I tried to demystify publishing in part because I, I felt like I had to do it myself. I'm not crying hardship or anything here, but I grew up in, in central Virginia, kind of rural Virginia…My parents had no connection to publishing. I didn't know any writers or authors. I had to teach myself everything through obscure forums.
On writing for your best readers
You cannot control what people take from art and there's no point in trying.
On the role of fiction in these weird times
We were talking about the Surrealists. Who I quite love in a lot of ways…they're very political. They really thought that their art was going to help stop war and help change the world.
On the pessimism of our current cultural moment
It's dark times. But as someone who also reads a lot of history, we've been through a lot of dark times before. There's still art and there's still love and there's still good meals and conversation. And you got to find that where you can.
Lincoln Michel recommends 3 Substacks
- ’s . And what Matt Bell normally does is take a bunch of books that all are doing something. He's noticed something in them. And then he'll talk about that small aspect of craft and then give you an exercise based on whatever that element is. If you're a writer who is looking for exercises to flex your different craft muscles, I think Matt Bell's Substack is great.
- by , who is just a brilliant writer and a brilliant essayist who thinks really deeply. And does the exact opposite, you know, we were talking before about how Twitter is such a bad place in many ways. And Brandon really delves very deeply into things. He'll do a long essay on whatever's on his mind. But often, it'll be writing focused.
And then we talked about publishing demystification a bit and a person who does that really well is, who runs a Substack called . And I don't know McKean personally, but I know that she is an agent and her newsletter will just give very practical advice.
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Subscribe to ’s newsletter
Buy Lincoln’s most recent novel The Body Scout
Buy Lincoln’s story collection Upright Beasts
Read Lincoln’s Substack post discussed in this ep Fear of the Surreal
Read Lincoln’s Substack post discussed in this ep Write For Your Best Readers Instead of Your Worst Readers
Read’s Lincoln’s Substack post Some Surreal Books from Around the World
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