Episode 6: National Obsessions with Carl Hiaasen, Benjamin Nugent, Ellen Hawley and Dana Jennings

About this episode

We look ahead to summer with four guests, Carl Hiaasen, Benjamin Nugent, Ellen Hawley and Dana Jennings, who have written about subjects that may be even more synonymous with America now than baseball and apple pie: golf, talk radio, country music, and the culture of nerds.

Books featured in this episode

The Downhill Lie
Carl Hiaasen
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American Nerd
Benjamin Nugent
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Sing Me Back Home
Dana Jennings
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Open Line
Ellen Hawley
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Comments on this episode

Kevin Longrie's picture

Lisa, I haven't gone back


I haven't gone back again yet, but I'm pretty sure that Nugent didn't say "girls are nerds for not wearing make-up." He said that people are alienated in adolescent stages of their life, then listed reasons, and he said one of the reasons that girls are alienated or "marginalized' is the word I believe he used was by not wearing make up. He's not making a value judgment, and I don't think there's need for offense to be taken, I think he was just observing ways in which people initially get labeled "nerd."

Also, to defend Dan a little, I think what he meant was just sub-section of the population. He apologized, and I don't think he wanted to imply that nerds were sub-human or anything like that. Also, to get a little nerdy here myself, "sub-species" wouldn't imply better or worse judgments, just that the two have a common ancestor, like two different kinds of cats. :)

Lisa's picture

I found it *really*

I found it *really* offensive that Daniel Menaker would refer to nerds as a "sub species". Even when he retracted it because Benjamin Nugent urged him to do so, in that Benjamin Nugent felt that he had gone to far in his negative description, Daniel Menaker later referred to nerds as "peculiar".

Or when Benjamin Nugent suggests that girls as nerds are girls who don't wear make-up, that's just plain stupid. Girls(and women) who don't wear make-up are just girls(and women) who accept themselves for who they are and know that they have nothing to make up for.

I get it. It won't be a particularly politically correct show but sometimes the discussions will be interesting like in the show prior to this one, and sometimes the books that are presented will actually be worthwhile.

Kevin Longrie's picture

Another great episode. Hurry

Another great episode. Hurry back with season 2.

More poets! *cough.

KeiraSoleore's picture

First things first. I'm

First things first. I'm disappointed that we're going to be without Titlepage for a few months between the two seasons. It's formed a mainstay of my literary stops online, and I'm going to miss it during its hiatus.

A book about dweebs, geeks, nerds and grinds. "Revenge of the Nerd" was the first thing that came to mind, but Benjamin Nugent adroitly skirted a sophomoric treatment and focused instead on the social commentary through the ages of how these concepts have changed.

Hats off to Dana Jennings for shaking the notion that country music is purely a southern thing and making it a part of all rural America. Great song snippet there. :)

My thanks to Carl Hiaasen and Ellen Hawley for making the distinction between aloneness and loneliness, one of choice and the other of emotion. As a writer, I'm always faced with the charge of being anti-social. Choosing to be alone to pursue the art and craft of writing doesn't mean that the person is incapable of being in the company of others.

Dan's ability to tease out the common threads from seemingly disparate books and to lead a discussion that moves smoothly among the various group members is awe-inspiring. As usual, a great episode, TitlePage. See you next season.