Laurie Gwen Shapiro

The Stowaway – Ep 31 with Laurie Gwen Shapiro

The Stowaway is the spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring Twenties’ most remarkable feat of science and daring: an expedition to Antarctica.

It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over and American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? There wouldn’t be another encounter with an unknown this magnificent until Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

Everyone wanted in on the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to be taken along as mess boys, and newspapers across the globe covered the planning’s every stage. And then, the night before the expedition’s flagship set off, Billy Gawronski—a mischievous, first-generation New York City high schooler desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business—jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard.

Could he get away with it?

From the soda shops of New York’s Lower East Side to the dance halls of sultry Francophone Tahiti, all the way to Antarctica’s blinding white and deadly freeze, Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s The Stowaway takes you on the unforgettable voyage of a plucky young stowaway who became a Jazz Age celebrity, a mascot for an up-by-your bootstraps era.

Laurie Gwen Shapiro is a native of New York City’s Lower East Side. She has most recently written articles for publications including The New Yorker, New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Slate, Aeon, Los Angeles Review of Books, and has her own history column focusing on unsung heroes for The Forward. Shapiro is also a documentary filmmaker who won an Independent Spirit Award for directing IFC’s Keep the River On Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale and an Emmy nomination for producing HBO’s Finishing Heaven. The Stowaway is her first non-fiction book.

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Ana Simo

Heartland – Ep 30 with Ana Simo

In a word-drunk romp through an alternate, preapocalyptic America, Ana Simo’s fiction debut, Heartland, turns the classic murder mystery on its head with the story of a thwarted author’s elaborate revenge on the woman who stole her lover, blending elements of telenovela, lesbian pulp noir, and dystopian satire.

Ana Simo is a New York playwright, essayist, and lesbian activist. Born and raised in Cuba, she immigrated to Paris in time to witness the May 1968 revolt, and participate in early women’s and gay and lesbian rights groups. Since moving to New York in 1973, she has written some dozen plays, collaborated with experimental artists, and co-founded literary and activist projects. She recently finished a second novel, Tannhäuser’s Dream, and is currently writing a new one, titled Divine Light.

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Jenn Jordan

Darwin Carmichael Is Going To Hell – Ep 29 with Jenn Jordan

It’s tough living in the 21st century, when mythical beings not only roam the earth, but camp out on your sofa and raid your refrigerator. Jobs are scarce; angels infest Brooklyn (the demons have taken all the good property in Manhattan) and minor gods bus tables at the local diner. The mortals of New York must balance not only their checkbooks but keep a close eye on their souls’ karmic account.

Darwin lives in Brooklyn, the borough of choice for hipsters, artists, deities and an assortment of mythological creatures. Darwin has a problem. Due to an unfortunate incident involving some intense snogging, an unbalanced high chair, and a framed image of the Buddha, he acquired a massive karmic deficit. Long story short, he’s going to go to Hell. Darwin doesn’t particularly want to go to Hell, so he’s doing everything he can to save his immortal soul.

Managing his complete karmic rehabilitation, a soul-crippling day-job in financial aid counseling, life in a ridiculously gentrified, rent-inflated neighborhood, and a pack of free-loading stoner angels is tricky, to say the least.

His best friend, Ella Fitzgerald, the daughter of saints with good karma to burn, coaches Darwin on saving his soul. His 2000 year old pet manticore, Skittles, provides moral support, the wisdom of the ancients, and fluffy hugs. Darwin must contend with his obnoxious roommate—art student and suspected alien Matt Westbury—but there’s also his friendly minotaur landlord, Patrick, who drinks Darwin’s beer and fixes the sink.

Every day is a fresh hell, but it’s a chance at redemption.


Jenn is the co-author of Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell with Sophie Goldstein, with whom she is working on her second book. She is also a graduate student in medieval history at Stony Brook University, where she is writing a dissertation on women in medieval Sicily and Southern Italy.

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