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Notebook on Cities and Culture S2E10: Eco Chamber with Ethan Nosowsky

Colin Marshall sits down in San Francisco’s Mission with Ethan Nosowsky, Editorial Director at McSweeney’s. They discuss security breaches at the McSweeney’s office by overenthusiastic fans seeking a physical connection to their favorite publisher of physical books; his tendency to act as “the Joe Lieberman of publishing” in his editorial career, carrying unchanging tastes through changing times; Geoff Dyer, the writer with whom he has worked the longest, and how the subject-independence of Dyer’s writing parallels the subject-independence of his editing; the counterintuitively un-self-indulgent qualities of “Dyeristic” prose; memoir booms vampire booms, and the eternal bad-book boom; how he finds the real action in hybrids of fiction and essay, and how those forms provide the surprises that all art should; his life in New York publishing before his homecoming to the San Francisco Bay area, and how he has come to regard the ecosystem/echo chamber of the New York literary scene at a distance; the dominance of food and technology over books in Bay Area culture; David Byrne‘s new How Music Works, and other books that you want certain authors to write; and the potential usefulness of the authorly switcheroo, as when Dyer planned to write a book about tennis but wrote a book about Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker.

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