You can now listen to your favourite magazine – isn’t it nice to hear the voice behind the story? ANDY HUANG recommends three podcasts that are as excellent as their parent publications. 

 

Longform: #85 Tavi Gevinson

Broadcast: March 26, 2014

Longform.org – not to be confused with, although very similar to Longreads.com – is essentially a directory or reading list of longform pieces. Doesn’t sound like much fun at all, at least on paper (tl;dr, anyone?). But it is! Longform recommends new and classic writing that’s freely available online, and it’s all quality stuff from folks like Wired, New Statesman and The Atlantic.

The Longform podcast is a weekly conversation with a nonfiction writer or editor. This episode features Tavi Gevinson, founder and editor-in-chief of ROOKIE, an online magazine about art, pop culture, music and feminism. In the interview, Tavi talks about how “writing is a little bit like vomiting”, her discovery of Riot Grrrl, and other stuff growing up, such as having a weird bullied-kid complex (like most teens) and being profiled by The New Yorker at thirteen (not like most teens).

 

The New Yorker Fiction: Gary Shteyngart Reads Lorrie Moore

Broadcast: July 1, 2013

The New Yorker probably needs no introduction, but just in case: it’s a magazine from and about New York (although it has a wide following outside of non-New Yorkers) that publishes clever cartoons, fiction, political commentaries, essays and satires. It’s been home to the likes of Haruki Murakami, Vladimir Nabokov, Alice Munro and J.D. Salinger.

For its monthly fiction podcast, The New Yorker invites a celebrity from the literary world to read and discuss a fiction piece taken from the archives. This episode (which you can listen here, or subscribe to the podcast and download from iTunes here) is my favourite because it features two great writers: Lorrie Moore, who writes sad, funny stories about terminal illness and failing relationships, and Gary Shteyngart[1] (Super Sad True Love Story, Little Failure: A Memoir), who is just a generally awesome guy.

Having blurbed over 150 books, Shteyngart is known as a master blurber. The blurbs are always thoughtful and funny[2] – and he’s turned this into an art form almost, inspiring a Tumblr and a quirky documentary by Jonathan Ames (Bored To Death).

Slate’s Culture Gabfest: Abstract Nouns

Broadcast: December 25, 2013

Slate is a daily online magazine that’s built itself up to be a go-to source for news, culture and tech – pumping out stories fast enough, and with enough wit and insight.  Currently, they have almost 20 podcasts covering a bunch of topics, from sport (Hang Up and Listen) to women’s issues (DoubleX Gabfest) and politics (Political Gabfest).

Slate’s Culture Gabfest is hosted by senior Slaters Stephen Metcalfe, Dana Stephens and Julia Turner. Each week, they discuss cultural moments, such as Her, normcore and iOS7. There’s a real sense of rapport and humour, which keeps the show from becoming what could’ve been just a bunch of self-indulgent intellectuals dissecting everything to death.[3] Unlike regular episodes, “Abstract Nouns” looks at how we communicate and use language. The Slaters talk about “never-use” words (e.g. “compelling”), how “delight” is a delightful verb, and dialectic bagels. There’s also a Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault anecdote, and a burnt raisin cake analogy in there, too.

[1] He’s also headlining this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival (yay!)

[2] On Vintage Attraction by Charles Blackstone: “If you like pugs, wine, and Greece, Vintage Attraction is for you. It’s so post-post-modern it’s almost pre-modern. I read it on a stone tablet and loved every word.”

[3] Ethically, you shouldn’t dissect things that are alive. Also, technically, you can’t dissect things to death if they are already dead, but in this sense “to death” means “in the extreme” as in: “I was bored to death.” So semantically, that sentence makes total sense.