Episode 530 – Christopher Bollen

Virtual Memories Show 530:
Christopher Bollen

“I feel like every novel I write is a reaction to the previous one. With The Lost Americans, I felt like I needed to get away from cafe society and the art world and dive into politics.”

Christopher Bollen returns to the show to celebrate his thrilling new crime novel, The Lost Americans (Harper). We talk about his childhood obsession with ancient Egypt and how it led him to set the novel in Cairo, what’s gotten easier & tougher after 5 novels, what it was like to write this one while under lockdown, and why he dived into politics and the global arms trade this time around. We also get into our respective (and multiplying) midlife crises, the tarot reader who told him he’d only write 9 books (!), the reading education he got from judging the PEN Faulkner awards, the debts he owes past writers (& the time he bought a plant for Robert Stone), and why he’d like to learn to paint. Oh, and we discuss our share postcard fetish, the horror novel he’s writing, his rediscovery of Philip Roth, the loss of artistic reputation, and a LOT more. Give it a listen! And go read The Lost Americans!

(And go listen to our 2015 conversation!)

“One thing about living in New York — at least until recently — is that you had access to all of these intellectuals. Their lives were here. You could meet your idols; they weren’t just faraway people who rolled through town at a Barnes & Noble.”

“I wonder sometimes how this generation, coming up watching TikTok, will change the novel.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Christopher Bollen is the author of the critically acclaimed novels A Beautiful Crime, The Destroyers, Orient, and Lightning People. He is frequent contributor to a number of publications, including Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and Interview. He lives in New York City. His new book is The Lost Americans.

Follow Christopher on Twitter and Instagram and listen to our 2015 talk.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Christopher by Danko Steiner. It’s on my instagram.

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