Episode 09: Tobias Carroll

Books Mentioned on The Spine

  • The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
  • Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Speaker for the Dead Orson Scott Card
  • The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
  • The Quincunx by Charles Palliser
  • American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  • Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West
  • Arc d’X by Steve Erickson
  • London Fields by Martin Amis
  • The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
  • His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli

Memorable Quotes

  • "American Pastoral for me is...there are things in it that I did not realize were possible in a work of fiction, like the way it involves its narrator as a character and you're not exactly sure how much of the novel is what actually happened or the narrator's supposition of what happened.... And the fact that that is sustained while all of the other conflicts in the book are sustained, I just think is absolutely fantastic."
  • "[In high school], I looked at, OK, there's science fiction and there's fantasy that I read, and then there's realistic fiction. You're either realistic or you're not. That's it: No ifs, ands or buts. And so I think reading a book that's so absolutely stylized as Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison was this absolutely brain exploding moment."
  • "There would be books that I would read that would give me the same thrill of the unknown and the mysterious [as punk and hardcore]."
  • After receiving a compliment about his sharp memory: "I would be hard-pressed to remember anything I learned during my sophomore year of college other than [that] I took a course on medieval Italian history and I know that there were people called Guelphs and Ghibellines, but that's pretty much it."
  • "I like to think that reading has made me more empathic. I'm an only child from a small family, so I think there's also that sort of means of using books as a way to discover a wider world and to help understand the lives of people whose circumstances in life are different from mine."

His latest article in Lit Hub is "Making the Case for the Surreal Memoir" (published a day before this episode aired).

Tobias Carroll