Episode 43: Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam
Rich Fischer is a cartoonist, a writer, a teacher, a husband, a dad. He is also a has-been, an also-ran, a washout, and an adulterer. As the not-the-most-famous faculty member at a week-long summer arts conference in a bucolic New England town, Rich struggles with all of it: work, parenting, relationships, life. An intensely solipsistic narrator who makes all the wrong choices, Rich still manages to ask all the right questions. Can love and kindness thrive in a marriage pierced by exhaustion, illness, debt? How can we go on knowing there's no sure way to keep our children safe? Is human connection possible across a gulf of class and wealth? And, is making art defensible if it means exposing, and maybe destroying, those you claim to love?
Host Cyd Oppenheimer talks with author Matthew Klam about his process ("I write this sentence and then the next sentence and then the one after that and if I can't pull off the sentence that comes after that I know I can't keep going"); about writing the un-sayable ("I am trying to upset people"); and about whether it's possible to draw a line between fiction and autobiography. Also, they bond over their intense obsession with the writer Tim O'Brien.
Guest readers Annie Thoms and Jessica Sager join Oppenheimer to discuss concussions, broken arms, and diamond earrings; unreliable narrators and unlikely lovers; and what stories count as real and deserve to be told.