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Between the Covers Podcast

Caren Beilin : Revenge of the Scapegoat

Today’s guest, Caren Beilin, talks about her latest novel Revenge of the Scapegoat. All four of her books—two nonfiction, two fiction—each stand alone but they each also share recognizable people/characters that travel across books and across genre. How do the fictional versions of the real people in her life—her partner, her parents, her siblings, her friends—relate to their “real selves” and how does this spilling over from one book to the next help Caren engage with shared questions that animate them all? We talk about what it means to write prose with a disability poetics, about pain’s relationship to form, about the unruly body and body humor, and about creating stories that interrogate and undermine destructive systems, from medical and institutional gaslighting to ‘the scapegoat mechanism,’ to the dynamics of the family unit itself. We also talk about sentences, about the pleasure and power of knots of language, as a site for expression, rebellion, and even liberation.

For the bonus audio archive, Caren discusses and reads from Flaubert’s final, unfinished novel Bouvard et Pécuchet, the novel whose two grumpy old men, Bouvard and Pécuchet, Caren’s most recent protagonist names her two painful, arthritic feet after. To find out how to subscribe to the bonus audio and to check out all the other potential benefits of becoming a listener-supporter of the show (including a limited number of signed copies of Caren’s Blackfishing the IUD) head over to the show’s Patreon page. And finally here is today’s Bookshop which contains many of the books mentioned today (from those by Sheila Heti, Gustave Flaubert, and René Girard to those by Beilin herself).