Episode 17: Ann Friedman

Books Mentioned on The Spine

  • The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again) by Andy Warhol
  • The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Light in August by William Faulkner
  • Fast-food Nation by Eric Schlosser
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
  • Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
  • The White Album by Joan Didion
  • Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion
  • Susan Sontag's journals
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • The Outline series by Rachel Cusk
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Memorable Quotes

  • "I really think that being obsessed with books and reading and other people's stories has had a huge impact on pretty much every aspect of my life."
  • "The library in my hometown in Iowa, the children's library card had a max number of 10 books per week that you could check out. And I remember frequently begging my mother to let me use her card, which contained a limit of 20 books."
  • "Don't make me read Anne of Green Gables. Don't make me read Emily of New Moon. Anyone wearing multiple petticoats and trying to play in a field...I was like, next! I want to read about boys and girls running around in an art museum."
  • "I'm so embarrassed. Making a list of things that felt culturally relevant at that [young] age, I'm like, white-men-white-men-white-men... When you think about access to culture and things like that, I wish someone had just popped up and said, 'You know who else is doing really interesting narrative essays? Zora Neal Hurston!' It's such a symptom of being an old millennial and not having the kind of full cultural access that I feel like the Internet provides now. And also just not having developed a consciousness around what I was consuming and what it meant."
  • "I remember reading [stories in The Nation magazine] and thinking, 'Holy cow this is so interesting! How come history class in school never once touched on this?' This is still an experience I have when I read books. 'How am I only learning this now' is a consistent reading feeling."
  • "Having two people [like twins] at the heart of a novel is something that I continue to love and really appreciate. That is a trope that I really like: The ability to show the impact of a political experience, of a culture, of a family experience, of trauma on two different individuals who experience it in different ways remains something that I think is pretty unique to fiction in terms of its ability to fully explore that."
  • "I just love the idea of fiction as a way into the fact that you can be sitting right next to a person — even be so intimate as to be in the same family unit as them, to be the closest you think you could possibly be to another soul — and have a different experience of what it is happening around you. I will never get tired of exploring that fact."
  • "To this day, my favorite feminist writers are acknowledging that it's not something you sit back and think about. It's something you do and practice, usually imperfectly. And I think that it was very important that bell hooks provided that framework for me in a really early stage of me identifying as a feminist."
Ann Friedman, guest of The Spine podcast