This Week's Guest: Will Kostakis
What are the things you're not telling people -- and what's stopping you? My guest this week is Will Kostakis, author of award winning young adult novels and the upcoming book The Sidekicks. Growing up, Will and his best friend were as close as friends could be, or at least, they told themselves they were. There was something neither one was telling the other.
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And if you've got a minute, an Apple Podcasts review would be super helpful as well. Thanks to Marshlc who writes "Almost every episode, the guests say something like 'Whew, thanks for this, it was like a therapy session!'" That does sometimes happen. What you don't know is that I'm billing my guests $200 an hour. Just kidding.
Also if you're in Seattle, I hope you'll join us for another Dungeons and Drag Queens show! We have four fabulous drag queens on stage for one night only, role-playing their way through a custom-made, very queer Dungeons and Dragons adventure. It's happening October 25th at 7pm at the Timbre Room.
This Week's Recommendation: Fraud
Big thanks to Will for joining me, and for speaking and writing so openly about his experiences with pain. We all have a built-in survival instinct that turns us away from anything that hurts. Confronting a source of suffering is difficult enough, but processing it to the point that you're ready to share it with others is brutally difficult task.
For my recommendation this week, take a look at David Rakoff's 2001 book, Fraud. I can't believe it's taken me this long to recommend the book -- front to back, it's one of my favorite pieces of writing. It's a series of essays, all lush and hilarious but also frayed at the edges with pain like a leaf starting to turn.
The whole book is a masterpiece, but ever time I read it, I find myself tingling with anticipation of its final two paragraphs. We've just spent 225 pages with David, accompanying him on bizarre adventures to yoga retreats, posing as Freud in a shopping mall window, and to Loch Ness, all the while feeling like a detached imposter. Sometimes he wears a disguise, sometimes he places a pane of sarcasm between himself and his subjects, and always he establishes an emotional remove.
But on the last page of the book, after describing the period in his life when he nearly died from lymphoma, he asks, "what remains of your past if you didn't allow yourself to feel it when it happened? If you don't have your experiences in the moment, if you gloss them over with jokes or zoom past them, you end up with curiously dispassionate memories."
David passed away in 2012 when his lymphoma returned, and I think about the words at the end of this book a lot. That survival instinct we all have to turn away from pain, to avoid it or decorate it or disguise it -- that impulse can keep us alive, but it can also keep us from living.
Stuff we Talked About
Will's book The Sidekicks comes out October 17 in the US.
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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