Episode 586 – Jen Silverman

Virtual Memories Show 586:
Jen Silverman

“I didn’t set out to write a political novel. I wrote a novel about people who are finding themselves embroiled in the politics of their moments.”

Author-playwright-screenwriter-poet Jen Silverman returns to the show to celebrate their amazing new novel, THERE’S GOING TO BE TROUBLE (Random House). We get into how Jen accidentally stumbled into the 2018 Gilets Jaunes protests in Paris and triggered this new book, the ways we’re shaped by our parents’ failures and secrets, the many routes of radicalization, and the theatricality of protests, how they draw people in (with a boost from Théâtre du Soleil), and how they contrast with theater itself. We also talk about the role of art in understanding the times, how Jen’s stories start with character, their work on Tokyo Vice and how TV writing differs from other storytelling modes, what it means to protest alongside someone whose politics you disagree with, and what the pandemic era has taught them about community. Plus we discuss the nirvana of MacDowell Colony, learning to use research without being beholden to it, ways to be an effective, engaged human (not just engaged/enraged), the contrast between book and theater critics, the existential question of the past few years, and, oh yeah, whether or not people can change. Give it a listen! And go read THERE’S GOING TO BE TROUBLE!

And go listen to our 2021 conversation!

“When there are questions I’m circling in my life, the way I get to them — not necessarily to answers, but to a better set of next questions — is by interrogating them inside the structure of a book, or a play, or or or.”

“Anytime I look around the corner and I see crazy puppets, I’m going toward them.”

“I think of myself more as an observer than an activist, and for a long time that felt like a shameful thing.”

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

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About our Guest

Jen Silverman is the author of the novel We Play Ourselves, a Lambda Literary Award finalist; the story collection The Island Dwellers, longlisted for a PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for debut fiction; and the poetry chapbook Bath. Their honors include fellowships from the National Endowment For the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Follow Jen on Instagram. And go listen to our 2021 conversation!

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Jen’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4 digital recorder & interface. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. B/W photo of Jen by Joseph O’Malley and R. Masseo Davis. Photo of me, Jen & their partner by me. It’s on my instagram.

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