Posts by Sally Decker

Asymptote Podcast: The Devil

New Year, new podcast episode!

This month, we examine a character who has been influencing the minds of authors for thousands of years: the Devil. We’ll be taking a look at that fiery hell-demon we all know and love to hate (or fear), but we’ll also discuss how other cultures view this figure. We first consider Maximon, a Guatemalan saint not recognized by the Catholic Churcha fusion of Satan, Judas, Cortes, and the Mayan trickster god Mam. Then we’ll move on to Russia, where we will look at how the Devil influenced two hundred years of their literature. We’ll end with an exploration of the Voodoo religion, which isn’t as devilish as you may think.


New Podcast Episode

In this month’s podcast, storytelling—from the factual to the fractured

In this episode, we look at divergent forms of storytelling in translationfrom the fact-centered world of literary reportage to the poetic proclamations of a third-millennium heart. Beatrice Smigasiewicz brings us coverage from Krakow’s Conrad Festival, where she caught up with one of Poland’s most prominent writers of literary nonfiction, Mariusz Szczygieł, and his award-winning translator, Antonia Lloyd-Jones. They discuss the legacy of 20th century reportage in Polish literature and the power of storytelling in dealing with the country’s wartime experience and postwar Communist era. Katrine Øgaard Jensen presents new translations of poems from Ursula Andkjær Olsen’s Third-Millennium Heart, an explosive collection that pushes story to the limitbreaking every rule of storytelling and yet bringing us a character who feels real. Olsen won the prestigious literary award Montanaprisen in 2013 for the book, excerpted here in its original Danish along with English translations.


Asymptote Podcast: Home

In this month's podcast, how home is—and isn't—always where the heart is

In this episode, we look at the concept of home; how we shape it and how it shapes us. Yardenne Greenspan takes a look at literature of trauma, bringing us work by two Israeli authors Yonatan Berg and Ron Dahan, who recount the horrors they have seen (and have been a part of) in their country, as well as Yehiel De-Nur better known by his pen name, Ka-Tzetnik 135633, a Holocaust survivor who in bitter detail recounts his time in Auschwitz. What unites these authors is their experience with LSD. Flashbacks to their traumatic experiences directly inform upon their writing and present the reader with a complex portrait of trauma. Daniel Goulden brings us a report from the Brooklyn Book Fair with recordings of Jonathan Lethem, Vivian Gornick, John Leguizamo, Cecily Wong, and Chinelo Okparanta discussing their respective homes and how that informs upon their work.  READ MORE…

The Uncanny Listener… (Part 2)

More stories from the shadows, featuring Franz Kafka, Yoko Ogawa, Dean Paschal and Mansoura Ez-Eldin.

The Uncanny Listener: Stories from the Shadows (Part 2)

We’re back with a second portion of scary stories! Following on from last month’s episode, part two of our audio anthology ventures even further into the dark and dingy corners of world literature. This installment features haunting tales from Japan, Egypt, America, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with writing by Franz Kafka, Yoko Ogawa, Dean Paschal, and Mansoura Ez-Eldin. Along the way you’ll find a hallucinatory giant, a doll with a mind of its own, a hideously disfigured carrot, and the Statue of Liberty as you’ve never seen her before. Plus there’s a conversation with cultural critic Adam Kotsko about the epidemic of creepiness on our TV screens, from Happy Days to Mad Men to the Burger King commercials. Join us as we continue exploring the questions: What is the uncanny? And why do we enjoy it so much?


The Uncanny Listener: Stories from the Shadows (Part 1)

Our newest podcast episode features creepy stories by Bruno Schulz, Ambrose Bierce, John Herdman and Felisberto Hernandez.

The Uncanny Listener: Stories from the Shadows (Part 1)

What exactly is “the uncanny“? We’ve all felt the sensation of a bloodcurdling shiver running down our spines, but when it comes to describing what that means or what caused it, we’re often left with nothing but: “it was just . . . creepy.”

In the latest episode of the Asymptote Podcast, we explore the mysterious and alluring phenomenon of getting the creeps, through the words of some of the best scary-storytellers in world literature. The Uncanny Listener: Stories from the Shadows is a chilling collage of readings that reveal the strangeness of what’s familiar and the familiarity of what’s strange. READ MORE…