Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
A copy of "The Great Gatsby." by F. Scott Fitzgerald displayed at Sotheby's in New York.

Writ Large podcast tackles The Great Gatsby, a book you likely already have opinions about

A copy of "The Great Gatsby." by F. Scott Fitzgerald displayed at Sotheby's in New York.
Photo: Don Hemmert/AFP (Getty Images)
PodmassPodmassIn Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.


Bad Advice With Lori Beth Denberg
Pooping In Public, Making Your Move, and Meatloaf Tearing Your Family Apart

Illustration for article titled Writ Large podcast tackles The Great Gatsby, a book you likely already have opinions about
Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

In this premiere episode, things kick off with a catchy theme song and an introduction of both Lori Beth Denberg (of mid-’90s All That fame) and co-host Clark Crozer, her friend since elementary school. Denberg explains that the “inaugural” episode was recorded on the same day Joe Biden officially gained the required electoral votes to unseat Trump, but the duo clarifies that this podcast is not intended to be particularly political and, despite the series’ name, the advice offered is, hopefully, actually pretty good. (Wasn’t that also true of her old “Vital Information” sketches?) Their insights definitely have a comedic bent, but underneath the jokes and banter, it’s ultimately sincere advice. Listeners are encouraged to seek professional help if needed, but outside of that, the social media channels and custom call-in number (1-855-DENBERG) are available for public use. Punctuated by eclectic anecdotes from “showbiz-land,” conversations between Denberg and Crozer signal a promising podcast in the making. [Jose Nateras]


Skin Deep
Tulsi Vagjiani

Illustration for article titled Writ Large podcast tackles The Great Gatsby, a book you likely already have opinions about
Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

It’s always interesting to see how podcasts meet the challenge presented by visual subjects, and it’s often just as interesting to learn how ostensibly low-stakes interview programs plumb for hidden depths. Skin Deep attempts both tricks at once by inviting people to share the stories behind their tattoos. Host and former rugby pro Gareth Thomas, who has inked up much of his own 6'3" canvas, is quite at home quizzing subjects on the meaning behind their markings. For debut guest Tulsi Vagjiani, body art is revealed as a powerful tool for asserting control over her body, nearly half of which was scarred at age 10 in a plane crash that also claimed the lives of her immediate family. As the show progresses, each of her tattoos trace her life path for us, from the careless thrill of an initial, meaningless rose to more mature compositions that connect deeply to her identity and spirituality. The control theme reemerges in ways that surprise even Vagjiani herself, such as when she reflects on how nice it is to talk about parts of her body that aren’t scars. We may not see her tattoos, but we leave seeing her. [Zach Brooke]


Writ Large
The Great Gatsby

Illustration for article titled Writ Large podcast tackles The Great Gatsby, a book you likely already have opinions about
Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

Is there any work of fiction Americans are more likely to have an opinion on, regardless of their tastes and background? Nearing one hundred years since its publication, The Great Gatsby has been an institution for about three quarters of that time, which explains its inclusion in Writ Large, a show about books that have changed the world. Guest David Alworth traces the trail that author F. Scott Fitzgerald charted to achieve permanent “already read” status in American culture. More importantly, Alworth takes a crack at the “why” part of the book’s success, leading to a discussion of how Gatsby both was revolutionary for its time and also possesses a certain timeliness. Gatsby, we’re told, is among the more accessible examples of the modernist literature movement to which it belongs (which seems obvious in retrospect). Compared to works by Faulkner, Joyce, and Gertrude Stein, it’s very easy to understand what the heck is going on. Beyond Gatsby’s place in literature, Alworth says the book comes as close as art ever has to defining certain intrinsic aspects of American culture, while also providing lots of commentary but few conclusions. We’ve been navel-gazing ever since. [Zach Brooke]

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

Cinematic Antihero

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