What do the PDFs say about this?: Brandon Taylor and Stephanie Insley Hershinow (CH)


Brandon Taylor practices moral worldbuilding in his fiction—that means an essential piece of these worlds is the “real possibility that someone could get punched in the face.” Brandon, author of the novels Real Life and The Late Americans, joins Stephanie Insley Hershinow for a wide-ranging, engrossing, and often hilarious conversation about the stakes of the novel today. They discuss Brandon’s “Hot Freud Summer,” during which he read all of Sigmund Freud’s essential works, as an example of an intellectual journey that engages with what Brandon calls the PDFs of criticism: the histories of ideas that he wishes to track back to their origins. Along the way, Brandon reveals what he has taken away from the Romance genre (“everything”), his conviction that The House of Mirth is the prototypical social media novel, and how he tries to avoid writing characters that are just “three spritzes of a personality standing in a room.” Brandon, Stephanie, and Chris close things out with their answers to the signature question about the first books they loved, and the answers are…revealing.

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