In this episode, assistant editor Luke Gair talks with Matthew Baker about his most recent story collection, Why Visit America. Baker’s stories investigate questions of consumerism, technology, and identity, and do so most frequently against a backdrop of dystopian—yet thoroughly American—landscapes. The discussion largely centers on these themes as Gair asks Baker about the coming-out narrative in his story “The Transition,” the ethics of book writing and selling, and growing up during the dawn of the internet.
Gair and Baker conclude the podcast having scrutinized the “American zeitgeist” through the lens of Baker’s collection. Baker closes with a reading from “Testimony of Your Majesty,” in which Baker explores a version of the United States where wealth is a source of shame, and status is offered to those with the fewest material possessions.
In addition to Why Visit America, Baker is the author of the collection Hybrid Creatures, and a children’s novel, Key of X, originally published under the title If You Find This. His experimental work includes an intentionally posthumous novel titled Afterthought and a randomized novel, Verses. In Summer 2022, he was a Walter E. Dakin Fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.
The Sewanee Review Podcast is recorded in the Ralston Listening Room at the University of the South. This episode is produced by Hayden Dunbar and edited by ProPodcast Solutions with music by Annie Bowers. Don’t miss any of our conversations with some of today’s best writers. Subscribe to the Sewanee Review Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.