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The Remains of the Day with Simon Jacobs

The Remains of the Day with Simon Jacobs

Welcome to another installment of a collaboration between the Chicago Review of Books and the Your Favorite Book podcast. Malavika Praseed, frequent CHIRB contributor and podcast host, seeks to talk to readers and writers about the books that light a fire inside them. What’s your favorite book and why?

This week’s guest is Simon Jacobs, whose latest novel String Follow is a haunting look at Midwest suburbia and the inherent isolation of being a teen. String Follow tracks a sprawling cast of characters and their growing fascination with the bizarre and occult. Narrated by the collective ‘we’ of a controlling force, the novel takes us into the inner minds of scared, lonely teenagers seeking guidance and belonging in a fraught, isolated world. The result is truly shocking, but in a larger sense, not as surprising as we think.

Jacobs deviates from his horror/thriller genre to highlight a favorite book from his Anglophile days, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. This 1988 classic is the simple tale of Stevens, a longstanding English butler who ties his innate self-worth to his service and performance. Slowly, Stevens’s self-concept erodes as he takes a trip to the countryside and examines the course of his life, as well as the decisions and indecisions he’s made through the years. There are spoilers in this episode, so if you have not read the book, please skip minutes 36:45 through 42:30

Jacobs shares his insight on everything from writing the modern teen to interpreting this book in a capitalist system to further reading recommendations. It’s a lively episode and certainly worth a listen.

See Also

Wise Children by Angela Carter (with Nghi Vo, Author of Siren Queen) Your Favorite Book

Another weird book and a blast of an episode! Our guest is Nghi Vo, author of The Chosen and the Beautiful and most recently, Siren Queen. Combining 30s Hollywood with fairyland rules, Siren Queen shows us the dark side of celebrity and what it means to craft a persona for public consumption, and what it takes to climb to the top. The book is part Faustian legend, part Gatsbyesque glamour, and ultimately an aesthetic all its own. Nghi chooses a book she picked up at a Barnes and Noble over twenty years ago, a book she's read over and over until the cover fell off, Angela Carter's last novel Wise Children. This book is a haphazard, chaotic telling of a deeply dysfunctional family, with humor and darkness thrown in throughout, and ultimately a book that left us speechless at many, many points. We discuss all things celebrity culture and the morality of performance, along with plenty of laughs along the way. May Short Story Book Club Link: Follow the podcast on instagram and twitter @yfbpodcast Buy Nghi's book:
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Listen to this episode of Your Favorite Book at the link above and stay tuned for more episodes with other writers in the weeks to come. If you enjoy this episode, check out other episodes of Your Favorite Book on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other major podcast platforms.

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