Episode 33: The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Two poor girls from rural America somehow manage to find their way to a private East Coast college, and, from there, to each other. Mel, tough, aggressive, magnetic, knows she will be a cartoonist. Sharon, uncertain, unsure, insecure, knows only there are things she wants to make, but not yet how they will get made. The two become best friends and partners. A decade later, they are still at it: about to release an animated film about Mel's past which will bring them the acclaim they've been seeking. And that's just the first 25 pages. The Animators takes us in directions we don't expect it to go: from Brooklyn to Florida to Kentucky, from one painful past to another, from one great loss to a second even greater one. This is a book about whether the gifts we have define us or destroy us, about the powers and the perils of telling our own stories, about the way friendship can sustain us and sink us.
Host Cyd Oppenheimer talks with author Kayla Rae Whitaker about her choice to write about artists ("this was kind of a way of branching out into the world and experiencing a life that wasn't mine"), why she left so many questions unanswered ("as a reader, something that I'm really pleased to run across . . . is when we address the truth of how little we really know the people around us, and how little we know ourselves"), and the moments in the book that surprised even her.