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Interchange – Censorship and Sensibility: Story and First Person Provocation


“Censorship and Sensibility” features local author and film scholar Joan Hawkins in conversation with writer Laurie Stone. Stone was in town to read from her latest book as part of the Player’s Pub Spoken Word series organized by the Writers Guild at Bloomington.

A longtime writer for the Village Voice, theater critic for The Nation and critic-at-large on Fresh Air, Stone’s new book of stories, My Life As an Animal, is composed from around the edges of multiple forms, memoir, fiction, journalism, essays and criticism. At the center of each is a woman, figured to be similar to Stone but with essential dissimilarities, writing from deep within the sexual politics born of 70s feminism who feels and deploys the erotic pull of words as they both seduce and slice us open.

In a review of My Life as an Animal Joan Hawkins writes:

Stone’s narrator is smart, funny, well spoken, and complex. Prickly, too. She finds her way in life, and in these stories, by challenging ideas and arguing with those close to her. If you’re looking for a sweet cozy of a tale about a 60-year-old woman falling in love and moving to Arizona, you need a different book…. Animal is the perfect book for that corner café table that Patti Smith writes about in M Train, where you read and reread books until you get the hang of their logic.

We begin with a controversy. Laurie Stone was set to read from her book on Studio A, a Sunday night talk show broadcast by WKCR, Columbia University’s student-run radio station, until she got an email from the show’s producer asking her not to read one of her stories. The producer wrote: “Some particular lines in your selections do not reflect our station’s values and more importantly our university’s values, and would be an issue to air.”

We should note that WFHB will “bleep” a certain word that is not allowed (ehem, censored) by the FCC, but we will be hearing the lines that created the controversy.

Our music today comes from Philip Glass’s 1989 album Solo Piano–specifically the 5 variations of the composition Metamorphosis–all performed by Branka Parlić. The songs were inspired by the short story of the same name by Franz Kafka, published in 1915. One day Gregor Samsa awoke to find himself a monstrous vermin…estranged from his family, his work, himself.

EXTENDED: This is a special extended version of Joan Hawkins’ conversation with Laurie Stone, author of My Life As an Animal, on feminism, theater criticism, and the influence of Kate Millet and Sexual Politics. (77m)

Laurie Stone is author of My Life as an Animal, Stories (TriQuarterly Books, Northwestern University Press), the novel Starting with Serge (Doubleday), and the essay collection Laughing in the Dark (Ecco). She is editor of and contributor to the memoir anthology Close to the Bone (Grove).

Words from a Stone (Melville House blog)
Censorship of Laurie Stone (PEN)
urban fauna: a review of my life as an animal by Joan Hawkins
Interview with Laurie Stone
When I Look at a Strawberry, I Think of a Tongue” by Édouard Levé

“Metamorphosis” One through Five, Philip Glass, Solo Piano. Performed by Branka Parlić.

Interview by Joan Hawkins
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Assistant Producer: Rob Schoon
Executive Producer: Wes Martin

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