“Addams Family Outcast” Edition
Isaac Butler: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. You. You know, it’s Wednesday, December 14th, and this is the Slate Culture Gabfest, Addams Family Outcast Edition. I’m Isaac Butler in for Stephen Metcalf. On today’s show, we tackle Wednesday the new Netflix Goth psychic murder mystery TV show about the Addams Family daughter’s high school years and then all the Beauty and the Bloodshed is the new documentary from Oscar winner Laura Poitras. It follows the trailblazing artist Nan Golden as she attempts to hold the Sackler family accountable for the opioid crisis. We’ll have our take. And finally, tis the season for Spotify wrapped.
Isaac Butler: What can a tally of our annual music listening choices tell us about ourselves? Stay tuned to find out. Joining me today and subbing for Dana Stevens is Slate’s Dan Kois Dan. This is normally the time that I gently rib you about some of your recent foibles, but you actually have a new book coming out very soon. Could you tell us the title and a little bit about it?
Dan Kois: Isn’t that also my latest foible? It’s called Vintage Contemporaries. It’s a novel. It comes out in January. It’s a comedy about broken friendships.
Isaac Butler: You know, that is a foible. But I’m not going to rib you about it because I have read it and I think it’s truly excellent and everyone should buy it today, in fact. Thanks. Also joining us is Julia Turner, the deputy managing editor of the Los Angeles Times. Julia, when you were in high school, were you a fang, a scale, a siren or a stoner?
Julia Turner: Which one is like the do good nerd? I don’t think I was any of them.
Dan Kois: They don’t have.
Isaac Butler: Those. You’d be in the town working the coffee shop?
Julia Turner: Yes, 100%. I’m behind the barista counter. Yeah. Slinging brownies and wondering what’s going on over there. And nevermore.
Isaac Butler: All right. Shall we do a show?
Dan Kois: Let’s do it.
Isaac Butler: All right, let’s dive in. The Addams Family began as a series of single panel cartoons in The New Yorker about a macabre family of aristocrats who served as a bent mirror to the family values of mid-century America. Since then, they’ve become a remarkably durable piece of corporate IP, fueling a series of comic books to beloved live action films to less beloved animated films and many, many TV shows. The latest of these is a new program for Netflix called Wednesday, initially directed by Tim Burton and starring Jenna Ortega as the titular pint sized goth who tries to solve a series of murders and strange goings on at a high school for magical outcasts. In this clip, she gets a tour of that high school called Nevermore. Leading the tour is Wednesday’s new roommate, whose bubbly attitude is not very compatible with Wednesday’s brooding demeanor. Let’s take a listen.
Speaker 4: Nevermore was founded in 1791 to educate people like us. Outcasts, freaks, monsters. Fill in your favorite marginalized group. Here, you can save the sanity sales pitch. I don’t plan on staying here for long. Why not? This was my parents idea. Oh, look, there’s my mother smirking at me. They’ve been looking for any excuse to send me here. It’s all a part of their nefarious, yet completely obvious plan. But plan to turn me into a version of themselves.
Speaker 4: Well, in that case, perhaps you can clear something up. Rumors been swirling around that you can only kid at your old school and your parents cool shrinks get you off. Actually, it was two kids. But who’s counting?
Isaac Butler: Julia, I’ll admit there was so much familiar here that I started writing down the various tropes and where I could remember them from. I mean, there’s not only The Addams characters, but there’s the Magic School with four different major houses. Wednesdays psychic powers are basically the dead zone. It has the, you know, necessary small role for Christina Ritchie, who made the part of Wednesday famous. It’s got a paranormal mystery format from Riverdale, The Cave from dark, the blood showers from Blade, the love triangle that every show needs. You know, do they find anything new in this material, or is the remixing of the familiar satisfying enough for you?
Julia Turner: I think what feels new is Jenna Ortega’s performance, which is very precise and pretty fun to watch. And the show is. I am not in Addams Family oeuvre completist, so I can’t speak to all of the things that has been done with her character in the past. But essentially the show uses her guarded persona as the beginnings of an avenue for emotional exploration of like teen. Defensiveness, I think. Like, I think they they use her kooky, spooky self, um, as a way to explore how teens navigate high school now.
Julia Turner: Have shows explored before How teens navigate high school? Yes, they have. But I think there is something pretty charming in how all of these elements are mixed and remixed. Agree. Not totally fresh, but the kind of tonal control and the level of the acting is is pretty good. And it’s fun to watch the various like teen hunks from the different groups and towns, you know, emerge with their chins and cheekbones and sort of seem randomly interested in her. I think it’s just like, Oh, yeah, that part.
Isaac Butler: Yes, Every young man desires her on site, right?
Julia Turner: I know always what happens to the hostile outcasts of the class. So the most realistic part of it and I will also say that I don’t know again, enough about whether this is new, but she spends a lot of time talking to thing the the the hand character thing accompanies her to school and becomes her sort of like errand boy, helpmate sparring partner. So there are like long scenes where she, like, has emotional arguments with the hand, which requires the hand to do a lot. And I’m curious whether you guys that those work, those felt new to me as well.
Dan Kois: We are a fun feature in Slate about the hand actor behind thing whose job actually really seems to have been quite difficult, crouching about and being very expressive with his hands. Those scenes were fun and I like the, you know, the various ways that hand finds to convey information, whether by tapping or gesturing or a straight up flipping the bird when necessary. And I think I agree with Julia generally that like the the ways that this plays with these familiar tropes of the ways that it demonstrates America’s unending ability to produce high cheekbones, young man of modest appeal is totally enjoyable.
Dan Kois: I would say the one place where I disagree with you is about Jenna Ortega, who I know people really love and who they clearly have built this entire series around. Like, I don’t think this series exists if they don’t have generals. I got to agree to do it, but I do not find the character in her performance like an appealing way of thinking about teenage reticence in a show that, for the most part actually found interesting ways to three dimensional eyes cartoony ideas. She still seemed like the most cartoony thing, the most two dimensional thing in the show to me.
Isaac Butler: I feel like the show never really makes up its mind about how cartoony or realistic or logical or bizarre it wants to be because, like, if it is just to give an example, like if it’s a paranormal high school filled with magic people, the everyone seems very surprised when anything weird or paranormal happens. Do you know what I mean? The fact that Wednesday, you know, there’s there’s a whole thing in the early episodes where Wednesday witnesses a murder that may or may not have happened. And everyone just seems like very confused about that. When people are casting magic spells all over the place and there are vampires and werewolves and.
Dan Kois: Actually people are murdered in the woods every day.
Isaac Butler: Yeah, exactly. And just on a on a similar thing, it’s like Wednesday is sort of good at at everything. And we’re not sure whether that’s it’s never clear to me how exceptional within the universe of the show that’s supposed to be that she can like write a novel and play the cello and do all these, you know, other things where it’s in the in the, you know, like the the live action films, which I loved very much as a kid when I saw them, you know, like The Addams Family are a self-contained zone of weirdness. And then everything around them is this kind of heightened normality. And by by switching it up in this way. Like, I just I had a lot of questions about what the world was and how the world works. And I think that’s sort of my version of what you’re talking about with her performance.
Julia Turner: Yeah, I mean, I guess I’m giving the show credit for where it seems like it’s going because they don’t present her in the first several episodes as sprung from the skull of Morticia, like just a little precocious weirdo who’s never going to soften like she. Clearly her standoffish ness and hostility. There’s plenty of seeds planted. Those are defense mechanisms. And I don’t know, she’s she seems like she’s going to warm up into a more human person now. Maybe that’s at odds with what the potential of the Addams Family IP is. And that’s really an interesting point you raise, Isaac. But I just I did find her kind of off putting, but in a compelling way that it seems like the show wants to reckon with and untangle over time rather than like as a constant that you just have to accept if you want to watch it.
Dan Kois: So my teen, one of my teens, has watched and really enjoyed the show when she watched it, of course, long before I did and couldn’t believe how late to the game I was.
Isaac Butler: But she found.
Dan Kois: You know, she is not particularly familiar with Addams Family Properties. She you know, she didn’t get the joke about the two snaps and she didn’t get the joke about being spooky and kooky. But she did like Wednesday, who she read essentially as just like Goth. And she found a lot of the other teenagers in the show somewhat cringe. And she couldn’t stop telling me about how whenever they make shows in high schools now, they have to pretend like they understand Gen Z. So they always have a character who’s like, Oh, you need to get on Tik Tok. And they always have to have a character like, Oh, I have two moms, and they’re just trying to be like, Oh, we get gen-z, we see you.
Dan Kois: And it was fun hearing from her, the experience of being very lightly pandered to the way that I was very lightly pandered to once upon a time and rejected it, yet still consumed it avidly. And and maybe it’s that that I find most intriguing about the show that that Hollywood will always find a way to both annoy and compel that specific audience with this specific kind of story. And and it’s fun to imagine what this is going to look like in a hundred or 200 or 500 years.
Isaac Butler: And was that show 90210 for you, Dan?
Dan Kois: That show was Buffy, of course.
Isaac Butler: Oh, Buffy. Yeah, of course. Yes, Right. This is Buffy, right? This is a I mean, I would say it’s not as good, I I’ll admit. I actually when we when I started watching this, I got 20 minutes through the pilot and I shut it off and was like, Oh, no, I have to watch so much more of this to be able to talk about it on camera. And I watched, you know, I wound up watching four episodes of LA, The Clockwork Orange, you know, eyes peeled thing. I feel like this is a great show for like a 12 year old. The thing that or a teenager for exactly those reasons that you’re talking about. But unlike with Buffy or whatever, like, I just don’t understand why adults are watching it and talking about it so much in a way that makes me feel ancient and grumpy.
Julia Turner: Say more. What? What? What bothered you about it?
Isaac Butler: Well, because it’s it is just a rehash of a bunch of familiar stuff in service of expanding corporate IP and making sure that Netflix has another show for people to watch when Stranger Things goes off the air. Like, I just feel like I can see the corporate strategy behind it so visibly and it’s so cynical about all of that stuff that I have trouble appreciating anything that’s going on on camera.
Dan Kois: It’s interesting to me to hear your objections raised in the form of like an anti like corporate cynicism argument when in fact it seems like what you really don’t like about it is that it’s for teens. And they could say, well, it is made for teens, it’s for teens. That is the point of the show. And so you don’t it annoys you that adults are talking about it when it’s not a product for them. But like that’s.
Isaac Butler: You know, teens are always going to watch cynically made corporate crap. I mean, you know, they always have to be adults.
Dan Kois: To be better than that. No, we’re not better than that. But surely, surely the lessons of the last 20 years have taught us that adults are not better than that.
Julia Turner: I mean, I guess I just have a more generous place in my heart for the nine or two window and the Buffy and the Gossip Girl and the whatever your teen drama of choice. I would say my two faves are probably Buffy, which I saw in my very early teens, and Veronica mars, which I watched last year. So I don’t think you have to be a teen to love a good teen soap, Right? But but the glory of the teen soap is that it’s opera, right? That everybody’s having the emotions for the first time and they don’t understand them and they’re bewildered by them and they’re not jaded.
Julia Turner: So the kind of distance ness and jaded ness of of this preternaturally precocious and in control young woman is unusual. It’s like a little bit irritating. It’s like a piece of gravel in your Grape-Nuts. Like it doesn’t quite feel right. And the uncanny ness of it, I don’t know. Seemed interesting. Like, I watched it and thought, Hmm, I’m not going to finish this, but it seems like it’s fine for it to exist rather than feeling like this is a cynical corporate ploy. I was like to each generation their own. And perhaps this is somebody, you know.
Isaac Butler: That that makes total sense. I mean, my feeling, I guess, is just like I feel like Veronica mars and Buffy and etc., etc. and so forth are just better made, I guess are just better and more interesting and more personal to their creators than this one.
Julia Turner: But how? But so what? So what? What makes a teen soap a worthy successor? And what makes one? You know.
Dan Kois: Why is Buffy, which was a grab on to some former IP different. Then this a grab on to some former IP.
Isaac Butler: Well, I mean, among other things, the jokes were actually funny, you know, I mean, like, I just think of just on a simple craft level, you know, it was just like a better made thing that felt like, to some extent, the personal work of its creator. You know, and Veronica mars is kind of pi and high school thing. I mean, those have like a very idiosyncratic sensibility in a way that I don’t think wed does because its parts are all borrowed from somewhere else. It’s like going to a hot topic, you know, like it just like it just has that that feel to me of mixing and matching things that have been successful, you know, everywhere else. Instead of trying to come up with something that feels personal and original to the creator’s own experience.
Dan Kois: Look, as long as the show gets the cramps into the top ten, that’s all I care about. They can do with the cramps. What Stranger Things did for Kate Bush. The show’s job will be done.
Isaac Butler: When the sun goes down and comes. Two teenage. You know what? That is a very good point. And listeners, if you are feeling less jaded and cynical than me, perhaps you will like Wednesday, which is currently streaming on Netflix. Moving on to. All right. Now is the moment in our podcast when we do the business. And this week we have two items on the agenda.
Isaac Butler: First up, this is your final reminder about the upcoming Culture Gabfest listener call in episode. If you’re not familiar, this is an annual tradition where listeners submit a bunch of questions to Julia, Dana and Steve, questions about culture, about their lives outside the podcast, about their opinions, their hopes, their dreams. And then the hosts answer their favorite questions during a special episode. So if there’s anything you’ve been dying to ask the regular crew, give them a call and leave a message at 9089776807. Again, that number is 9089776807. Or you can email your question to Culture Fest at Slate.com. The deadline for questions is tomorrow morning, so please get them in as soon as you can. Thank you. Our second item of business is to tell you about today’s slot glue segment. And to do that is the lovely and talented Julia Turner.
Julia Turner: Okay, so last week Dana Stevens proposed that it was my advocacy for the book. Need a house calm as mouse the beloved by me at least children’s picture book about a fictional mouse architect who makes fascinatingly different homes that are beautifully illustrated in section view for her many different animal friends. That it was my advocacy of this book that caused it to be reissued because I endorsed the fact that it was being reissued last week.
Julia Turner: Well, since that suggestion, I have received correspondence which reveals the answer to whether or not the culture Gabfest is responsible for the return of Ms.. Mouse. In order to learn whether we and the implied power of this massive, culturally influential listening audience can notch this achievement as our own. You will have to listen to the Slate Plus segment so become a member in order to learn the answer and hear more. As you’ve always wondered about Ms.. Mouse.
Isaac Butler: Well, Julia, if I were a Slate Plus member, I would be so excited to listen to that after the credits. And if I were not, I’d be kicking myself that I hadn’t signed up and I would go sign up today at Slate.com slash culture.
Isaac Butler: Plus, again, that’s Slate.com slash culture Plus. All right. Moving on. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is the new documentary from Oscar winner Laura Poitras. It follows the artist Nan Goldin and her protest organization, Prescription Action Intervention Now or Pain, as they try to get the art world to stop taking money from the Sackler family and remove the family’s name off of their buildings and galleries. The Sacklers, of course, are the family that owned Purdue Pharma manufacturers of OxyContin, and they bear an outsized responsibility for the opioid epidemic. In this clip, Golden reads from an art form article she wrote about the museum world’s complicity in the opioid epidemic.
Speaker 4: My relationship Toxic Counsel, began several years ago in Berlin. It was originally prescribed for surgery. Though I took it as directed. I got addicted overnight. In the beginning, 40 milligrams was too strong and as my habit grew, there was never enough. I went from three pills a day as prescribed to 18. The drug, like all drugs, lost effect. So I picked up the straw. My life revolved entirely around getting and using oxy counting and recounting, crushing and snorting was my full time job. When I got out of treatment, I learned that the Sackler family, whose name I knew from museums and galleries, were responsible for the epidemic.
Isaac Butler: Dan Goldin’s activism is not the only subject of this film. It is also a biographical portrait of her trailblazing life and career and the downtown art scene in New York in the seventies and eighties. That is a lot to pack into one movie that’s under 2 hours long. Do you think the film pulls off this balancing act?
Dan Kois: Yeah. In fact, I’d say what makes the film work for me is the conversations that that’s happening between those sections all the time, between the biographical portrait and the, you know, fly on the wall of her present day activism portraits. I think the crowd is drawing these subtle connections between, you know, for example, though, the way Golden’s parents treated her sister who died of suicide when Golden was young, after, you know, being committed to several institutions by her parents and and the way that society has treated victims of the opioid epidemic.
Dan Kois: And she’s pointers traces these lines between you know that the witnesses show in 1989 a famous show of AIDS related art that Golden curated and then what was it which was defunded by the NEA and then her later activism, the activism of of pretending to die on the floor of the Temple of Denver in protest of the Sacklers the naming of a wing of the Met after the Sacklers.
Dan Kois: And so watching this woman who admits that, you know, she was pathologically shy as a child, find her voice over and over in different kinds of ways through art and through friendship and through community and through activism is really quite moving and and does make these two disparate threads feel really unified.
Dan Kois: And, in fact, you know, I found myself really inspired, honestly, that this movie takes Golden’s work as seriously as it takes her activism, because there’s a really easy version of this movie, a very inspiring, probably Oscar winning movie that is just about the activism. It would be really good. It would, you know, have more scenes of meetings between all the people in her organization. Payne. It would have lots more scenes of Golden like nodding while people told their stories. It would have more of the planning and the run up to the protests. And it would, you know, maybe mentioned in passing, like in the first 10 minutes. Oh, can you believe it? This person is a famous photographer. But instead, you know, I’m really grateful that Reuters digs as deep into Goldman’s work as she does and that long stretches of the movie are basically man golden slideshows. They’re just music images and narration from Golden, and we really get to experience the work.
Isaac Butler: You know, it’s interesting because the slideshow motif that runs throughout is not just there because Golden’s, you know, famous work, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, was a sort of ongoing slideshow project. It’s almost like a formal metaphor of the movie itself, right? That it’s telling. It’s showing you these frames, these different ways to frame her and letting them all, all speak together. What did you make of it, Julia?
Julia Turner: It’s so funny that you say, Dan, that it could have been a movie just about the activism. I actually think the opposite. And that it could and. Not should. Not yet. I really did enjoy this movie, but the activism pieces of it seem so much. Kind of less rich and less, uh, methodically laid out than you’d want.
Julia Turner: To make a strong case about what the Sackler responsibility for the epidemic is and what it means to take their names off art galleries and whether that’s even a valuable thing to do. Like it just sort of assumes that like, yep, they’re responsible and getting their names off these art galleries sure matters a ton. Like the movie just kind of stipulates that in a way that I don’t, that feels a little flimsy to me. Whereas everything about her childhood, her art, her images, which are stunning and I mean, you know, I’m not a documentary filmmaker, but if I ever try, I will try to have my subject be someone who makes incredibly arresting images and lets me just use them all over my film.
Dan Kois: Yeah, I think.
Julia Turner: It’s just.
Dan Kois: One easy trick.
Julia Turner: Yeah, it’s like, so clever and gorgeous and. And I think a really powerful way to encounter her work and the kind of work she’s making. I’m sure it wouldn’t work for for every artist. But I. I felt that the Sackler piece was most interesting as a portrait of someone. Learning to speak truth. And I think what makes the film succeed is that it understands that. And maybe that’s why it doesn’t overplay the. What kind of origins or logic of the protests. But I think the one kind of weak link in the film is that it you know, it has all this footage of the protests. It’s on the ground during the protests. I think what it’s most emotionally curious about is, you know, how Nan Golden learned to be and to speak.
Julia Turner: Right. She says toward the end that her family wanted to deny the truth of the world, and she wants to speak the truth of the world and the truth of the world, as she sees it, involves getting the Sackler names out these galleries, which, to be clear, it seems like a fine thing to do. I just don’t think the movie, like, does the work to explain or establish that it matters in any profound way.
Julia Turner: And so I actually felt like the activist part was sort of the weaker part when compared to this, just this portrait. I mean, essentially it’s a documentary as a retrospective, That’s that’s that’s as curious about the artist as the art. But I loved I mean, it’s one of the most beautiful documentaries I’ve seen in years. It’s just stunning to look at. And not only not only because of Goldin’s images, the way that portraits, films, just mundane houses and how she’s amazing at filming, like whether all of the days that you see outdoors seem to seem very specific. You can like, see and feel the temperature and atmosphere, which it’s kind of hard to do on film. So it she’s not she’s doing really remarkable things craft wise with the material, I think.
Julia Turner: Yeah, you know that I’m curious what you thought.
Isaac Butler: Well, the point you make about the retrospective I loved the movie, I’ll say, and and the point you make about the retrospective is, I think, an important one because, you know, I’ve seen quite a bit of Nan Goldin’s photographs in the past, but it’s always like one photograph in a show about something else. I’ve never actually seen a retrospective of her work and seeing it all together. Not all of it, obviously. She shots. She’s probably shot six bajillion photos over the course of her life. But but seeing a lot of it at once really drove home its power and influence and specialness. You know, how important and groundbreaking and idiosyncratic and great it is and how it and also I kept thinking about the how the aesthetic it created has been repurposed in advertising.
Isaac Butler: You know, so often, whether it’s heroine chic or Terry Richardson or whatever, but like to get this like, you know, really concentrated dose of the real thing I found really powerful to me. And maybe it’s because, you know, my wife read Patrick Radden Keefe, Empire of Pain a few months ago. And so I’ve been hearing lots about the Sacklers, you know, in our house over the past few months. I hadn’t even noticed that. It doesn’t really go that that deep on those kind of establishing points.
Isaac Butler: To me, what I found powerful about the activism part is that it’s a portrait of successful organizing and activism that, you know, sets out with a clear goal, figures out a tactical way to achieve it, and it actually works. And I just found that aspect of that story incredibly inspiring in this current moment where I think we often sit around thinking that nothing we do will ever matter.
Dan Kois: Especially in the context of this particular battle in which almost every in almost every other measurable way there wasn’t success. We’re still losing hundreds of thousands of people to opioids every year. The people responsible did not really suffer in any measurable way except for that one thing that they really prized, which was their connection to the art world. And the way that it gave them a kind of legitimacy has in fact, been stripped from them specifically by these activists.
Julia Turner: Well, in part by these activists, I mean, I think part of my response to it also comes from the fact that I read Empire of Pain myself and think it’s one of the best books of the last ten years. And part of what makes it so good and what makes Keith so good as a journalist is the absolute rigor and methodical nature of his development of what the the type of culpability the Sacklers have is and the clarity with which he lays out, you know, how their money and our judicial system intersect to let them and their fortune off the hook and what the art means to them and why, you know, getting their names off of things is valuable.
Julia Turner: And also the broader context of kind of reporting from Kiefer now that, you know, it’s it’s not it’s not just the pill bottles and the temple of gender that that result in the name. So knowing a decent amount about the broader picture and I just you know the. I don’t think the movie makes the case. It’s not trying to make the case. But like what the book does very well is show, you know, like lots of people make drugs that can be abused and could be responsible for things and could could, you know, could get out of control like wildfire. And and the the book is very precise about the marketing tactics, what they knew, when they knew it, how they knew it. And and the film just kind of like assumes, oh, like big rich guys get names off gallery in ways that if I were coming fresh to this, I think I would be like, What?
Dan Kois: But what the film does is it I mean, Poitras does a pretty canny thing, which works particularly well on me, but I also think works on a lot of people, which is that she essentially allows the film to sort of gloss over that stuff by putting the dashing character of Patrick Radden Keefe in it, essentially bestowing upon it the sort of grace of of, you know, I did all this reporting, as you may or may not know, but as I certainly know, I teased all this stuff out at great length and and have made this case by agreeing to appear in this film and in fact, by speaking well of Nan Goldin and her quest. I’m essentially bestowing upon it upon her and on the film sort of my approval of, okay, you you guys are you guys are cool.
Julia Turner: It works. It works. And the movie is good. I don’t mean to sound overly critical of it, Like it’s just one of the more beautiful things I’ve seen in a long time. It just, it it on a tonal level, it like, overplays the activism to me because it’s so much less interesting than the psychology of her art.
Isaac Butler: And the iconoclasm of her life, which is I mean, you know, obviously we’ve been talking about the Sacklers, which is kind of the hook of the movie. But, you know, like her life is really fascinating and she is so open about it throughout. You know, there’s a there’s a part where she’s talking about her experience with sex work and she says something like, I’ve never talked about this before, but I just I have to be honest now, you know, and the movie really has that feel. I’m not saying it’s it’s not a confessional. It’s not exactly a hagiography. I mean, it’s like a really honest.
Dan Kois: Complicated portrait of a Nan Goldin photograph as what it is.
Isaac Butler: Yeah, that’s a really good way of putting it.
Dan Kois: Yeah.
Isaac Butler: So the film is all the beauty and the bloodshed. It is in theaters now, and I think we’ve got three yes votes for you’re seeing it of various intensity. Check it out. Moving on. So if you spent any time on social media towards the end of the year, you’ve no doubt been seeing people posting their annual Spotify wrapped graphics and statistics. You may have even done it yourself, looking up your annual listening habits and discovering that you are, say, in the top 1% of Barry Manilow fans on Earth. This year they’ve added personality types to the Wrap so you can know whether you’re a connoisseur with tastes the public can get behind or a player who likes comfort, listens, or perhaps a half elf druid with a plus two wand of entanglement.
Isaac Butler: Dan Julia Let’s talk first about what we learned from our Spotify wrap. The algorithm told me that I’m an adventurer who seeks out new songs and genres and maybe somewhat embarrassingly enough. I am also apparently in the top 4% of fish listeners on Earth. Or what about y’all?
Dan Kois: I learned that my morning started with Mellow Chill Love. I seize the day with Chill, Love, Light, and my evening ended with friendly, fun, soft.
Isaac Butler: Oh, interesting. My day starts with angst.
Dan Kois: Just get yourself going in the morning.
Isaac Butler: I mean, I didn’t know that, but apparently it starts with angst.
Dan Kois: What about you, Julia?
Julia Turner: My favorite thing I started with amped, euphoric, chipper. But then I went on to Confident, bold. Nervous. With what? And then I ended the night with a quiet, relaxing, sentimental.
Dan Kois: Just going into the day. Confident, bold and nervous.
Julia Turner: Well, all the. After all that amped euphoria, I have to come down somewhere. But then I also enjoy where they kind of like tried to turn it into a Myers-Briggs thing. And they said I was a I was the specialist. I’m selective with the music and artists I listen to, but I’ve got lots of love to go around. Once you decide you like an artist, your all in this is probably from the like one day I played a Kim Petras solo right over again, right for 40 hours. But, you know, it’s like who You’re in for envy. You.
Dan Kois: Oh, I’m an envy. That’s interesting. Now, I know I were friends.
Isaac Butler: I’m an insider. I actually have no idea what any of that means. Juliet. Now, are you doing my thing?
Julia Turner: It doesn’t mean anything except that the marketing team at Spotify has contrived to make us talk about Spotify. And here we.
Isaac Butler: Are. I know, I know. We’re just a tool in their complicated game. I do have to ask Juliet, You know, since you have a baby, a toddler, I guess at this point is your Spotify recommendations and everything totally warped by the music you play for your child?
Julia Turner: No, my Spotify is totally warped by Stephen Dana. It’s all like pop music mixed with like medieval drone, like motets that Dana recommend. My Spotify top 100 list is like bop, bop, bop, more bop, bop, bop, more an unlistenable playlist because it’s got all these Dana drones and I don’t. Yeah, we don’t play kids music from my kids. We’ve just decided to pretend it doesn’t exist.
Isaac Butler: I like that. I like that Iris is at the age where she can insist on it. And so my number two most listened to song is a song from the soundtrack to Adventure Time. I’m so glad that I woke.
Julia Turner: Live in money order. So glad that I woke up. I don’t really care about your stupid candy kingdom.
Isaac Butler: I think that might be the angsty song. Actually, I don’t know. You know, one thing that’s been really fascinating to me about this is I personally still have my music library on my phone and computer and iTunes as Spotify gives me an accurate picture of the way I use Spotify. For example, I listen to a lot more Yo La Tengo than I do Phish, but I don’t own any live Phish bootleg, so I use Spotify to listen to their concerts.
Isaac Butler: There was one thing that it absolutely nailed, which is that I totally fell in love with Alice Coltrane’s journey into such it did later this year, and I listen to it like fucking all the time once I heard it for the first time. But a lot of the rest of it was just like, Oh yeah, I listen to that for writing music. And so I just yeah, I know exactly where that ideas come from. Did it feel like an accurate portrait to the two of you of yourselves?
Dan Kois: Certainly, in the sense that it, you know, it enabled my five favorite artists basically right down, right down the list.
Isaac Butler: And what, what top percent of spoon listeners are you in.
Dan Kois: The room and the top .00 5% of spoon looks like you’re right. But also in that as yours did Isaac, it also reflected a lot of the specific uses I put Spotify to, right? There’s the car listening and there’s the around the house listening and there’s the mellow chill of morning listening, but there’s also the writing listening, which is, you know, which is a specific playlist. There’s the plain listening, which is a specific playlist. And so, you know, in that respect, I like that the that the Wrapped reflects the different kinds of listening experiences I value. But then, of course, throws them all together into one totally unlistenable playlist that does not at all represent what I would listen to at any given time in the way that Julia’s bop bop playlist does not represent her at all.
Isaac Butler: I like the idea that at some point they’re going to be like your morning started with bop bop murmur. Where is your lunch? Was more like Scab Ado about that.
Julia Turner: Well, I mean, I think that’s part of it. Getting smarter is having the day parts, right? Because that’s where it’s starting to recognize the difference between the bop and the maroon. But I mean, the question I have for you guys, the thing that seems most interesting to me about Spotify this year or Wrapped this year is that it’s a marketing technique that works. It’s a real innovation of Spotify, is that uses its collection of your personal data to flatter your. Ego and self-interest in the same way that like a horoscope would or a Myers-Briggs test and to reflect you back to yourself your main subject of your own fascination.
Julia Turner: Unless you’re truly a higher power who only listens to the medieval German music and. You know, other folks are imitating it, right? The Washington Post sent out an end of year marketing email that said you were in the point 5% of, you know, style section readers. And, you know, the L.A. Times has an annual recap for subscribers. You know, in in a world of streaming and subscription based businesses. We all have relationships with companies that track what we do on their platforms and then can try to reflect that information back to us in marketing that is, you know, charming, hopefully charmingly ego stroking rather than surveillance. Creepy. But like, I’m wondering how much longer this is going to work on us all. As more and more outlets kind of Spotify wrapped their marketing message.
Julia Turner: Have you guys started to notice this, this mode of engagement?
Isaac Butler: Yeah. I have often found it kind of creepy. This is actually the first time I ever looked at my Spotify Wrapped was for this segment. It’s not because I’m some like a bold resister of the machine or something. It’s just because it always just struck me as like, there’s just something a little unseemly and I’ve given them all this data and now they’re going to construct a portrait of me and show it to me. It’s just something about it that weirds me out. Maybe I like to flatter myself as more of an individual than I actually am or something. But but I. I find it a little off putting to be reminded of how much of our own information we are trading to Silicon Valley every day in exchange for convenience. That that’s creepy to me.
Dan Kois: And so I find it refreshingly transparent that at least one company is straight up telling us, oh, yeah, we know everything about you, and we’re going to tell it back to you in a way that flatters you, but but also reveals that, in fact, we know an insane amount of information about you. Like, is is this not what every single company we interact with is doing in, you know, in their server farms behind the scenes, compiling this information, selling it to others and never telling us about it. At least Spotify is like delivering it to us on a platter.
Isaac Butler: That’s a good point. I can’t wait for Uber Wrapped when it’s like, Here are the street corners you’ve visited the most right here.
Dan Kois: Here are the shady drug houses. Yeah. Yeah. To the York Times.
Isaac Butler: Late night drug deal aficionado.
Dan Kois: I was intrigued that the other I was intrigued watching other independent app developers find ways to try to sort of preempt Spotify Raps. There was a very fun app that launched just or that achieved escape velocity and virality just a couple of days before all the Spotify wraps landed, which was called Festive I. Did you guys see this where it was a little app that would if you of course granted it permission to access your Spotify history. It would then create a little a fake festival poster for like Kois Fest 2022 where of course the headliners are Spoon, R.E.M. and Gillian Welch. But then below them in the smaller the progressively smaller fonts, it shows all your favorite artists.
Dan Kois: And you can imagine this Dream festival in one shareable JPEG and watching other people sort of seize on the notion not only with their own products like, you know, the L.A. Times or The Washington Post or soon Instacart and everyone else, but also the independent sort of whimsical users who found ways to leverage that data into something fun, though I’m sure eventually nefarious. I also found that enjoyable and in fact, maybe more enjoyable than the Spotify draft because it felt less and less baloney. It wasn’t about like trying to assign me a bullshit personality characteristic. It was just straight up telling me, Here’s your 30 favorite artist. Thank you very much.
Isaac Butler: I did not use it, but I saw that take over Twitter for like two weeks and I just assumed it was a Spotify wrapped feature. In fact, when I went to my Spotify wrapped, I was like, Hey, where’s that? Where’s that?
Dan Kois: Where’s my.
Isaac Butler: Festival? Where’s my festival lineup, you assholes?
Julia Turner: It was actually seeing the festival things that made me go update the Spotify app so that the Wrapped would be in there as it is. And unless you do and then it wasn’t in there and I was like, I guess it’s some other person’s independent project and then I couldn’t find it in, then I forgot about it. And also, I’m not proud to admit this, but. I’m more comfortable letting Spotify have my data than giving access to my thing and my, you know, to a random third party act. That’s like somebody’s fun project for December 2022.
Julia Turner: And then like, where are they putting all that? I don’t know. It probably the lesson of that in Golden Film is that I should not trust the major corporation with, you know, caring for my best interests. But I do think some of the stories coming out of Twitter now as its workforce devolves is like no big companies do generally put a lot of resources into thinking about what they do with your data. They may not always make the decisions you respect, whereas like random Instagram art project is maybe not what you want to plug your passwords into, but then, you know, but then where does that leave you trusting, you know.
Dan Kois: Don’t trust me. And so the answer here and that’s what fish would tell you if you could ask them.
Isaac Butler: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like, hey, I’m.
Julia Turner: One of your know, the monks, the 15th century monks agreed about that.
Isaac Butler: Yes. They saying they’re actually if you translate those chants, they’re singing don’t trust anyone except for Christ.
Julia Turner: Don’t give your password to Spotify.
Dan Kois: You only give your password to Christ. That’s correct.
Isaac Butler: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. You know, it’s also interesting because obviously, as you said, Julie, this is a marketing thing, right? This is a way of telling you like a horoscope, a flattering thing about yourself to get you to use the product or to remember that the product is there or to like the product more, etc., etc., and so forth. Is there going to be diminishing returns with that? What do we think is going to happen? Is this the last year that we’re going to do a Spotify rap segment?
Julia Turner: I mean, I it’s like good marketing. I mean, respect, respect to good marketing, you know, like we’re all going to get marketed to all the time. And I think I kind of buy your argument and then it’s it’s transparent and it’s it controls for tone. I mean, there is a certain kind of like peppy colloquialism in marketing speak these days, Like the brands have figured out that they shouldn’t sound like our you know, that for a long time they sounded like our voice of God, Grandpa. Like when you need help, come to our insurance company.
Julia Turner: And then for a while and like the arts and teens, they were like your raspy, sardonic friend. Like when you can’t get enough to hang, you know, like, kind of kind of that. And now they’re kind of just this, like, happy Internet pal, you know, they’re kind of like, we love your there’s sort of like a low key perkiness. Now, I sound like I’m describing one of the Spotify dayparts, but and that will all tire and wane over time. But I think we’ve got like a few more years of other outlets imitating this before we get sick of it. And somebody has to invent something totally new.
Dan Kois: Spoken like someone who appreciates newness, variety and uniqueness and adventure.
Julia Turner: It’s true.
Isaac Butler: Well, listeners, what did you learn about yourself from the algorithm this year? When we stare into the digital void, does it stare back into us? Write us with your thoughts. Moving on. All right. Now is the time in the show when we give you our endorsements. Dan Kois. What have you got?
Dan Kois: I’m endorsing a delightful book that came out this year called What Artists Wear. It’s by a critic named Charlie Porter. And it is exactly what it sounds like. It is a compendium of meditations and photographs about the clothing that visual artists wear. And and it dwells, quite interestingly on the mixture of utilitarianism and image consciousness that those clothes represent. So like Eve Kline’s tailored suits or Yayoi Kusama’s Crocs or bust Basquiat’s paint covered paint splattered cum garson sport coats. It is full of wonderful photos and artwork. It’s full of clever connections.
Dan Kois: And it really reminded me when I was reading it in a way that that the Nan Golden documentary also reminded me that art is work and it demands respect as a result of that. And that the work that artists do means something. But also it reminds you that artists are often total delightful weirdos. And I appreciated that as well.
Isaac Butler: Is there an artist’s look that you would steal if you could get away with it?
Dan Kois: Frida Kahlo Honestly, when she got into her business, she looked great.
Isaac Butler: Nice.
Dan Kois: I could not pull off those suits. I don’t have the slimness for it, but if I could.
Isaac Butler: Wow. I’m having an incredible image in my head right now.
Isaac Butler: Julia Turner, what are you endorsing this week?
Julia Turner: Well, somehow we made it through the Spotify segment without me announcing the song that I liked best in 2022. And it’s actually a song I considered mentioning on our Summer Strut playlist. But then I realized I’d learned it from an L.A. Times list, and it was not an official Strut submission. And then I didn’t end up talking about it because honestly, I’m a little bit embarrassed because it’s basically a song about like having breasts and really enjoying having breasts. It’s a song called My Coconuts by Kim Petras. And it’s very, very funny and very, very peppy, euphoric and confident, bold, nervous or whatever.
Speaker 5: And so it was. We’ll just go from this claims to a fairy lingo like don’t compare.
Julia Turner: Michael Kim Petras is a pop singer who we have namechecked on summer strip multiple times, really, really great discography, and this is a newer track. Petras is a trans artist assigned male at birth. So I think the valence of Kim Petras singing about really enjoying having breasts adds a little bit of complication to what the song would be if it were, you know, sung by someone else.
Dan Kois: It’s not just my humps.
Julia Turner: It’s it’s it has actually a lot energetically in common with my humps, which is not something I ever thought I would say endorsement segment. I can’t I can’t explain it. But I feel like if we’re going to be revealing ourselves and tastes, what Spotify revealed to me is that I really, really enjoyed this kind of Ludacris song. And I just, you know, trust and respect our listeners enough that I got to share that with you.
Dan Kois: So, like Nan Goldin, you have to be honest.
Julia Turner: I got to be honest. I can’t lie. I got to speak truth to power. The power is the culture first listenership. And the truth is, I really like the song My Coconuts by Kim Petras. And it’s very amusing. And if it sounds like it might be your cup of tea, check it out.
Isaac Butler: Amazing. That sounds great.
Isaac Butler: Well, so for me, I was trying to think about what kind of novel one might want to read on, you know, the holiday vacation, which is to say something kind of fun, something kind of comforting, something kind of smart. And I arrived at a novel that I think if you were the type of person who, like, liked Terry Pratchett or quoted Monty Python at your friends in high school or whatever, you really owe it to yourself to read Connie Willis wonderful novel, to say nothing of the dog.
Isaac Butler: It is a time travel comedy farce written in the 1990s in which a 21st century Historium goes back to the Victorian era in search of a lost Vegas and winds up setting off a chain of events that might end in the Nazis winning World War Two and then has to try to undo all of them. It is incredibly funny. It is chockablock with references to Jeeves and Worcester to Hercule Poirot, Road to the Moonstone, to Sherlock Holmes. The Victorian era gets satirized brilliantly. It’s just a soup to nuts delight. The audio book is great. I just think if you’re looking to have a really fun week of reading on your hands while you avoid your family, to say nothing of the dog is a really good bet.
Dan Kois: That’s very appealing. Because if Wrapped creep had existed in 1987, my phone would have told me, You’re in the top 5% of Monty Python quotas, so I’ll probably have to read this book.
Isaac Butler: I think you’re going to dig it. I think you’re going to have a good time as part of your like, resurgent sci fi journey. I think you’re going to enjoy it. The clues that she drops about the 21st Century are also really delightful. She almost gets the year right of the pandemic. So anyway, it’s a it’s really fun. Just pure pleasure reading. Really loved it. Dan, thank you so much for guesting for Dana on the show this week.
Dan Kois: Happy to be here. Happy to talk about these cool things.
Isaac Butler: And Julia, thank you so much for everything you do right here on the Slate culture Gabfest.
Julia Turner: Thank you, Isaac. Thanks for being our Steve.
Isaac Butler: Hey, it was a pleasure. I got to work hard to be in the top 1% of swaps on Slate Culture Gabfest. All right. You can find links to some of the things we talked about today on our show page. That’s at Slate.com slash Culture Fest. And you can e-mail us at Culture Fest at Slate.com. Send us suggestions for topics. Argue with us whatever you want. Our intro music is by the composer Nick Britell. Our production assistant is Yesica Balderrama.
Isaac Butler: Our producer is Cameron Drews. I am Isaac Butler for Dan Kois and Julia Turner. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you soon.
Julia Turner: Hello and welcome to this lat plus segment of the slate culture Gabfest. Last week I believe in endorsements. I announced to the world that need a house column is mouse is being reissued in both the united states and Australia. I failed to note that although it is being rereleased, it has not yet been rereleased in the US, so you cannot purchase it for the stocking stuffer of a very oddly shaped stocking. But it is coming out and Dana posited Julia.
Julia Turner: This must be because of you and how you cried on this show, describing this book incredulously, half remembering it, almost making us wonder if it even existed or if you’d had a mental break. Surely this public display of of affection and amusement and tears is what has caused this book to re-emerge into the world. And I believe I demurred and said, Oh, I don’t know why it’s back. I remember that actually, I enlisted in with my Slate editor in chief, Leigh Powers. I think I may Dan Kois go see if we could get it republished at some point after that.
Dan Kois: I failed miserably.
Julia Turner: It did not come to pass. You have been the only task I ever assigned Dan that he failed it and so will allow it. But then I woke up the next morning to an astonishing email. Fellas, would you grant me leave to read this email aloud to you and to our sleepless listeners?
Dan Kois: Absolutely.
Julia Turner: Okay. The email has the tone of the scene at the end of the romantic comedy where someone has just run through the airport. In my view, the subject line is my mouth. Julia, it was you. I untangled the rights because of you. Hi there, Julia. It says. I just wanted to confirm that it was because of you that my mouse has been republished. I was a young junior editor at Penguin Australia when I heard you speak about the book on the podcast. And as a picture book lover, I decided I had to track it down. I couldn’t afford the eyewatering prices for a second hand copy, but I never forgot about it. Or your enthusiastic rant.
Julia Turner: Fast forward to 2020. I had climbed the ranks to book publisher at Allen and Unwind in Melbourne and was looking for titles to fill my new list. I remembered Ms. Mouse and thus began a cross-continental treasure hunt for the elusive publishing rights, the key to which involves sleuthing out the artist responsible for transporting Rosa Parks House to Berlin to recreate as an installation who turned out to be George the Illustrator’s son.
Julia Turner: The wife of the artist put me in touch with George’s daughter. A high powered TV executive living in Paris who was the guardian of his estate in the early, scary, awkward days of COVID and Zoom. She and I traded notes on the lockdowns in our respective cities and tried to figure out where in the world the original artwork for Dear Mrs. Mouse might be and how we could access it while the world had stopped turning. We reviewed the old contracts and writes reversion documents, and she shared stories of young female architects who had reached out to her father to tell him how their lives had been shaped by Henrietta’s story. Stipulation Henrietta is the fictional Mouth’s architect who makes cool houses for all of her animal friends in the book.
Dan Kois: Ms.. Henrietta Mouse.
Julia Turner: Exactly. Fast forward again to 2022, and we have remade the book and rights have sold around the world, including in France, where the reissue sold out within a week. So thank you. Julia Dana was right. It really was all because of you. With much gratitude, Davina Bell and Davina has kindly granted us permission to read this email aloud. This was an amazing email to receive.
Dan Kois: Incredible.
Isaac Butler: There are many lessons here, one of which is Never underestimate the power of Julia Turner.
Dan Kois: Correct. And the power of of almost incoherent enthusiasm for a beloved book and what it can accomplish when that gets delivered to the right person. I love the idea that this editor set her career with single minded purpose to finally land in a place in which she could follow the orders that she had been issued by her God Julia Turner and reissue this book into the world, finally fulfilling her purpose. I assume she will now fade away into nothingness, granting the editorship to someone else now that her her purpose is achieved.
Isaac Butler: You mean she’s going to be like Yoda at the beginning of returning Jedi and just kind of turn into a blue hologram?
Julia Turner: No. Now I feel like it’s like it’s some kind of bargain. Like now I’m in thrall to her and whatever. Whatever order she wants to issue me from Melbourne, I’m going to have to do them. I mean, just like, does anyone.
Dan Kois: Notice the L.A. Times has been just running a huge number of pieces on Australian children’s books?
Julia Turner: You know, we’re really focused on like the Pacific Century, so we’re really, you know, we don’t really see New York as the publishing capital. We’re really we’re more interested in what’s happening in Melbourne actually.
Dan Kois: So I’m having heard this, I was entranced by this story when Julia related to us and the publisher that is, that’s publishing Miss Mouse here in the United States is New York Review Books. They have a wonderful children’s line.
Isaac Butler: Children’s Line is incredible.
Dan Kois: Yeah, great. A great collection of reissues of both pictures, books and chapter books. Great line. They have reissued all kinds of wonderful books. And I was curious, you know, how they came to it, whether it was, you know, as this Australia editor said, through her interaction or whether there was some separate thing that was happening. So I emailed the editor there and talked to her on the phone. Her name is Susan Barba, and she too gave credit to Julia Turner and the Slate Culture Gabfest for raising New York Review Books interest in this title way back in 2013.
Dan Kois: Sarah Kramer, who’s who’s now the executive editor at and Y. RB heard you on the Gabfest She also read a post that Slate ran that same year when Slate.com briefly became a NIDA House columnist, Mouse outlet, publishing all the news you need to know about this exceptional book. And that began her belief that that is something that they should eventually publish. She talked to Susan about it and and and then Susan in about 2021. Found that this this Australian French deal was happening, that rights were out there and that she too could finally fulfill the Julia issued mandate to get this book published in the United States. You are having incredible effects all over the world, Julia Turner. How does it feel to be an influencer?
Julia Turner: And I mean, it’s amazing. I’m so excited that other people are going to experience the joy of this book, which just is very sticky and memorable for me. And I believe I attributed it half incoherently as being responsible for my entire philosophy of editing and life.
Dan Kois: That’s correct.
Julia Turner: You should devote the devotion to the craft it takes to customize experiences for the specific users they’re destined for, which is actually what editing is and editing a publication is. And yeah, I like still attribute all that power to the book. And I think one of the things that it makes me think about is just. The illusory feeling the Internet gives you that history is infinitely available to you. The history of culture, the history of experiences. There is so much you can easily discover via the internet. But there is so much that is obliterated by our reliance on it in a way. And then if something is sort of not available, you kind of don’t notice because it’s not in the catalog.
Julia Turner: And of course, I was able to use the Internet to find the book, and my husband did, by one of the eye wateringly priced copies to give me for a significant birthday at some point between now and then. And I have been able to read a copy that very much resembles of my childhood copy, you know, to my children, which has been exciting. And I will turn them into little weirdos just like myself.
Dan Kois: But that’s what Morticia did Wednesday.
Julia Turner: Well, I look forward to the forthcoming teen show, but I. You know, the work the publishers do, untangling things and reissuing things and finding gems that should exist again and be rediscovered. It’s a it’s not a particularly examined part of publishing, right? It’s not the glamorous part of book publishing to the degree that book publishing is glamorous at all anymore in this moment of consolidation and thwarted acquisitions and mergers and the the closing of book forum, I mean, it’s such an important industry and field and also such a such a it’s like both vital and endangered at the same time.
Julia Turner: But to the degree that book publishers are, figures in our lives are book editors and the work that they do. Untangling the rights for old favorites and bringing them into the world again is like not the work that we think about most often. So I’m grateful to all the rights and anglers that I’m so excited to bestow copies of this upon all of my favorite creators of spaces, virtual and otherwise.
Dan Kois: But it is the work that we think of critics doing in some respect. Like, you know, there are lots of jobs that critics do, and dealing with art form as it exists now is one of those things we talk every week on this show. Julia You talk every week on the show about a movie and a TV show and some and other things that are very au courant and you are keeping up with the culture. But another thing that critics do and that I have always admired and praised critics for doing is digging up those treasures and on very rare occasions, having the chance to bring help be a small part of bringing them back into the world.
Dan Kois: And so, you know, I think about someone like Don Powell, you know, whose whose work was somewhat underappreciated for decades before rave review, what became part of like a concerted effort to bring her back into the public eye. And Isaac and I have both also had these kinds of experiences of writing about something that was really important to us, but was, for some reason or another not available to the people we were writing for and having that piece spur a publisher to do that work that you describe and to make it available to people.
Dan Kois: For me, it was a New Zealand fantasy novel that I really loved that then, because of my piece, got acquired by an American publisher and brought out in America. And for Isaac, it was a science fiction writer from the eighties, John Ford, who he spent a year, several years, I believe, writing a piece for me at Slate about how this guy got forgotten and why it was that his works were basically completely unavailable at this point. This and in fact, the Tangled Wright situation and that piece directly led to those works finally being rediscovered and republished and now being out in the world.
Dan Kois: And this guy getting the, the, the laurels that he deserves and that as a critic, as a person who thinks and writes about art, that’s unbelievably gratifying. And any back patting that you are doing right now is totally justified. And I it’s hard for me to think of a more proud moment in my life as a writer than that. And I think that you should feel the same.
Isaac Butler: Yeah, I feel the same way. You know, the the Jon Hamm four piece that I wrote for Dan and the resulting reissuing of his work is is easily one of the things in my entire career that I’m proudest of.
Julia Turner: Yeah, I am. There are some other journalistic achievements that work I have overseen have achieved that are probably more profound. But I love I love the sort of butterfly flap effect here. I would also just like to call out you illustrious critics and erudite people for being one of the very few audiences to whom I could share this email who could be like, Oh yeah, welcome to the club. It does feel so good when your criticism causes a work to get reissued. Like, I didn’t really think about it when we set up this conversation that I was going to be speaking to two gentlemen who’ve already done exactly this in their own ways, with their own eye for their own art.
Dan Kois: We have a medallion we send out to people who do this. So we’ll make we’ll get that in the mail for you.
Julia Turner: You know? Where is it?
Isaac Butler: Yeah, it’s on its way. It’s on its way, I promise.
Isaac Butler: And we should also say, you know, we shouldn’t go without noting that this is somewhat the subject of your novel, Dan, this unglamorous part of the publishing industry, the people who dig out the forgotten writers and reacquaint them with the public is is a really, really important part of your book.
Dan Kois: And the writers who are overly proud of themselves for bringing these people back to life, I gently, gently satirize them in the book. In fact, in a way I am and gently satirizing myself. But it matters. And and it’s it really is gratifying, I think, to us, to us writers, to readers. And also I truly get. The impression that for people who work in publishing, this is like this is a dream for them. And I don’t I don’t I poked fun, but I truly believe that for this Australian’s editor who wrote to you, I’m sure that this is one of her highlights, finding this work that truly meant something really important to innumerable readers, doing all that detective work, digging it out and bringing it back to the world like that. What could be more fun for someone who has devoted their life to her books?
Julia Turner: Well, I am just so grateful that she listened and thought about it all these years and helped set these wheels in motion. And I also have to observe that one of my favorite lines in her email, which is itself a rich text in addition to the female architects who found who found the work inspiring, which does not surprise me at all.
Julia Turner: I love this story that somehow the illustrator son was involved in an art project that involved moving Rosa Parks his house to to Germany for for an installation. And I, I kind of skimmed past that in the first read before realizing like he was obsessed with her house. It was her house. I think this whole this book is just created to sort of people who are thinking about homes and the people who inhabit them and what they reveal about itself and place in the world. And anyway, I just love that that this way of thinking about home and domesticity and personhood and selfhood and place and aspect advantage and self. It has so many tendrils out into the world.
Julia Turner: All right. Well, thank you very much this week, Divina Belle, for listening all those years ago and for for keeping this mouse in mind and for doing this work and making this mass available to you all. Thanks also to Susan Barba and Sarah Kramer at the New York Review of Books. Press four for getting the rights untangled here. And thank you, Dan and Isaac, for chatting with us about this today and welcoming me to the Club of Beloved old book reissues. And thank you Slate Plus listeners for supporting Slate our show, This Work. It was you. It was you all along. Sleep. Love you.
Dan Kois: All along.
Julia Turner: Who got Miss Mouse reissued. So let’s share the love a bit and we’ll see you next week.