Andrew Sullivan on being “on a limb”



“Out on a Limb” is a selection of essays by Andrew Sullivan on the last 32 years of American history. In this week’s podcast, Sullivan talks about the book and his feelings about some of the highly controversial public arguments he’s been involved in.

“You are never at a moment of finality in political or intellectual life. You’re always about to go wrong again, ”Sullivan says. “I have developed very thick skin. You have to. I was very controversial in the gay rights movement early on. The case of marriage equality has been fiercely opposed by some gay activists, and I have at times been targeted and stung by gay men, for my first book. So I always accepted that it was part of the price. I’m a sensitive person and it obviously hurts me, but I think my answer is it doesn’t matter what they say about you as long as it’s not true. And if it’s true, listen to it, take it in, try to figure out what they have on you and change. If not, forget it.

Leila Slimani’s new novel, “In the Land of Others”, is the first part of a planned trilogy loosely based on the life of the author’s grandparents. In this episode of the podcast, Slimani explains why she writes the autobiographical material as fiction.

“Imagination is a great power that we have,” she says. “Even though my family is interesting in some ways, it’s not as interesting as I wanted it to be. So I need to add other things, and I need to feel completely free. I don’t really want to talk about reality but about what excites me.

Also in this week’s episode, Tina Jordan reflects on the history of book review as she celebrates her 125th birthday; Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Lauren Christensen, Andrew Lavallee and John Williams talk about what they read. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books discussed in “What We Read” this week:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this episode and the Book Review podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].



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