Roger Freeman and Alexandra Decas are members of The Dinner Party, a national community of mostly 20- and 30-somethings who’ve each experienced significant loss. Our conversation explores how connecting intimately with strangers who have similarly experienced loss has allowed each of them to address their feelings of isolation and learn how to live with and speak about their profound loss. They also talk about the role of humor at Dinner Party tables, how they each seek joy in their lives, and the confounding issue of helping men—who have been trained to hide any weakness—to show up and feel safe.
Catherine Temma Davidson is a novelist, essayist, poet, and teacher of writing who grew up in Los Angeles and settled in London. Our conversation delves into Catherine’s creative process as well as her exploration of how culture shapes one’s worldview and what happens when we cross cultures. Catherine talks about the multicultural environment in which she was raised, her comfort with the “mixed mezze” approach, and why it is that she feels more Californian living in London than she ever did while she was living in the United States. Catherine also gives us a glimpse into the autobiographical novel on which she is currently working and discusses why—in the aftermath of Brexit—she has come to feel more connected to a larger community in England.
Syrie James is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels, as well as a screenwriter. Our conversation explores Syrie’s creative process, which involves a deep immersion in the lives of the real women writers who are the heroines of some of her most successful novels. Steeped in research about the lives and times of her characters as well as an abiding belief in the power of romantic relationships, Syrie’s novels explore the inner lives of the women at their center. Her novels about the writers Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte explore what inspired these mother’s of the novel to write. In our conversation I attempt to turn this question on my guest to explore the story behind the story in her work.
Today’s episode marks an ending of sorts and a new beginning. It is a lacuna, an interval, a gap. One door is closing and another opens. Today’s episode is the space between the Real Cancer podcast and the REAL podcast.
REAL will continue to feature conversations with individuals who‘ve faced the humbling encounter with reality that is cancer, and it will also explore other ways in which we engage with reality in the lives we live. REAL will broaden out the focus, exploring each week—through conversations with creative people of every type—the biggest questions we face in life: What does it feel like to be alive? How can we live meaningfully? Given the complexity of life—good and bad, hard and easy, exhilarating and depressing—how do we get on with living?