Prepare to be dazzled by Elissa Washuta’s powerful new essay collection, White Magic.
On this week’s episode, Elissa Washuta discusses White Magic (Tin House, April 27), a stunning set of interconnected essays that consider—and reconsider—popular magic, heritage, appropriation, colonization, love, heartbreak, addiction, abuse, and art.
Kirkus: “Across 10 interwoven essays that move through Washuta’s life, she uses popular-culture references—Fleetwood Mac, Twin Peaks, and the video game “Oregon Trail II”—as guideposts in her own journey of understanding the world and her place in it. Washuta shifts her focus frequently, from the history of the Seattle area to an in-depth discussion of horror movies to her search for an anti-drinking educational video she thought she saw as a teen. At the same time, she investigates the connections among magic, witchcraft, and her Native heritage. The book breaks from traditional memoir in intriguing ways, including footnotes that speak directly to readers and an essay that begins by focusing on Twin Peaks and then slowly begins to emulate it, moving back and forth through time and showing the changing nature of narrative across shifting time frames. Throughout, Washuta is consistently honest about her own past and opinions, and she is unafraid to directly question readers, demanding engagement with the text.…A fascinating magic trick of a memoir that illuminates a woman’s search for meaning” (starred review).
Washuta and host Megan Labrise talk about publishing and promoting White Magic; the subjects she sought to explore in its essays; the meaning of “exquisite vessel,” a formal term she coined to describe her work; the book’s repeating epigraphs, especially one by Alice Notley; and much more.
Then editors Vicky Smith, Laura Simeon, Eric Liebetrau, and Laurie Muchnick join with their reading recommendations for the week.
Curse of the Forgotten City by Alex Aster (Sourcebooks Young Readers)
All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue (Walker US/Candlewick)
Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering How the Forest Is Wired for Intelligence and Healing by Suzanne Simard (Knopf)
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Atria)
Also mentioned in this episode:
Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster (Sourcebooks Young Readers)
The books of Taylor Kay Mejiah
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (Scout Press)
The Overstory by Richard Harris (Norton)
The Wisdom of Trees by Lita Judge (Roaring Brook)
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben (Greystone Books)
Can You Hear the Trees Talking?: Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest by Peter Wohlleben (Greystone Kids)
Luster by Raven Leilani
Thanks to our advertisers this week:
Crude Ambition by Patricia Hunt Holmes
The Ultra Betrayal by Glenn Dyer
Why They Stay by Anne Harman
A Southern Girl by John Warley
Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.