House of SpeakEasy Blog

Writers and Storytelling: Rebecca Onion

Rebecca Onion lives in Athens, Ohio, and writes about culture, history, family, and (sometimes) food for magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. She is currently a staff writer for Slate.com. She has also written for Aeon Magazine, the Boston Globe’s Ideas section, the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Atlantic‘s website, Topic Magazine, the Austin-American Statesman, PBS’ American Experience website, and others. Rebecca holds a Ph.D and an MA in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a BA in American Studies from Yale University. Her book, Innocent Experiments: Childhood and the Culture of Public Science in the United States, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2016. She will be joining Mike Soto, Merrill Markoe, and Aaron Hutcherson on November 17 to tell stories tied to the theme “Up in Smoke.” Register here for the show!

What are you reading right now for solace or escape?

Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis – this is a Hugo-winning novel from 1992 that’s about time-traveling historians who mistakenly send a student back to the time of the Black Death. (Your definition of “solace or escape” may vary!)

If you could live inside a fictional world, which one would you choose?

I’d pick the Mars of Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy, because although the Martians have plenty of conflict among them, they still manage to talk about it in a relatively organized way…

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you now or anytime?

Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is always my go-to. “This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

Writers and Storytelling: Melissa Faliveno

Melissa Faliveno is a writer, editor, musician, teacher, and Wisconsinite in New York City. Her debut essay collection, TOMBOYLAND, about gender, class, and the American Midwest, is forthcoming from Jill Soloway’s Topple Books on August 4, 2020. Her work has appeared in Poets & Writers, Prairie Schooner, DIAGRAM, Essay Daily, Green Mountains Review, Lumina, and Midwestern Gothic, among others, and received a notable selection in Best American Essays 2016. She has profiled USWNT star Megan...

Writers and Storytelling: Roger Rosenblatt

Roger Rosenblatt is the author of five New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and three New York Times bestsellers. He has written seven off-Broadway plays and his essays for Time and the PBS Newshour have won two George Polk Awards, the Peabody, and the Emmy, among others. In 2015, he won the Kenyon Review Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement. He held the Briggs-Copeland appointment in the teaching of writing at Harvard. He is Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at SUNY Stony...

Writers and Storytelling: Ian Olasov

Ian Olasov is an adjunct professor and doctoral candidate at the City University of New York Graduate Center. His writing has appeared in Slate, Vox, Public Seminar, and elsewhere. He won the American Philosophical Association’s Public Philosophy Op-Ed Prize in 2016 and 2018. He runs the Ask a Philosopher booth in locations around New York City. His book Ask a Philosopher: Answers to Your Most Important (and Most Unexpected) Questions is out this month. He will be joining Michael Ian Black,...

Writers and Storytelling: Nick Flynn

Nick Flynn is the author of This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire and three previous memoirs, including the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award–winning Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, and four volumes of poetry. A professor on the creative writing faculty at the University of Houston, he lives in Brooklyn, New York. He will be joining Michael Ian Black, Ian Olasov, and Liara Tamani on September 22 to tell stories tied to the theme "All Good Things." Register here for the show! What are you...

Writers and Storytelling: Liara Tamani

Liara Tamani lives in Houston, Texas. She holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College. She is the author of the acclaimed Calling My Name, which was a 2018 PEN America Literary Award Finalist and a 2018 SCBWI Golden Kite Finalist, and All the Things We Never Knew. She will join Michael Ian Black, Nick Flynn, and Ian Olasov on September 22 to muse on the theme "All Good Things." Register here to watch the show live! What are you reading right now for solace or escape? Zadie...

Writers and Storytelling: Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer’s New York Times-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy has been translated into over 35 languages. The first novel, Annihilation, won the Nebula Award and Shirley Jackson Award, and was made into a movie by Paramount. Other work includes Dead Astronauts, Borne (a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award), The Strange Bird. These novels, set in the Borne universe, are being developed for TV by AMC and continue to explore themes related to the environment, animals, and our future....

Writers and Storytelling: Charles Yu

Charles Yu is the author of three books, including the novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (a New York Times Notable Book and a Time magazine best book of the year), and, most recently, Interior Chinatown. He received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award and was nominated for two Writers Guild of America Awards for his work on the HBO series, Westworld. He has also written for shows on FX, AMC, and HBO. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New...

Writers and Storytelling: Kevin Mattson

Kevin Mattson grew up in the suburban sprawl known as the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. It was here that he first experienced the “punk rock world” that fueled his formative years. He played in bands, wrote for zines, and became politically active, helping to cofound the organization Positive Force. He now teaches American history at Ohio University and is the author of numerous books that explore the intersection between culture and politics, including Upton Sinclair and the Other...

Writers and Storytelling: Sameer Pandya

Sameer Pandya is the author of the story collection The Blind Writer, which was longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award. He is also the recipient of the PEN/Civitella Fellowship. His fiction, commentary, and cultural criticism has appeared in a range of publications, including the Atlantic, Salon, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and Narrative Magazine. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Members Only is his first...