Food & Drink

Sherman Alexie on His Podcast, Kurt Vonnegut and Custard Pies

An author’s popular podcast lives on with a new, political direction

By D. Scully February 9, 2017

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This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Seattle magazine.

Reports of the death of Sherman Alexie’s A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment are exaggerated. The popular podcast lets literary fans listen in on conversations between cohosts Alexie of Seattle and Jess Walter of Spokane (both best-selling authors and winners of multiple awards), along with readings by each author, which are followed by a fascinating guest or two to sweeten the mix. It was rumored to be on hiatus, perhaps permanently, but Alexie assures us that the rumors aren’t true. 

Why was the podcast on hold? Well, it was two things. I had brain surgery, plus, after a while, we weren’t sure why we were doing it. But after the election, we realized that we have to keep doing it. Jess and I both come from red counties, so we both have insights that other liberals don’t have. 

How has the reception to A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment been so far? Great. People come up to me at readings and give me great feedback. Writers also appreciate the fact that we talk about the process.

What can regular listeners of the podcast expect from this new incarnation? We’ll still talking about the process, so 50 percent of it will be the same. The other 50 percent will be in this new direction.

So, it’ll have more of a political focus? Yes, but I’m not under any illusion that a factory worker in a red state (who voted for Trump) will be listening to this. There’s a great fake quote from Kurt Vonnegut…

Fake quote? It’s attributed to him. He didn’t really say it, but it’s great: “During the Vietnam War, every respectable artist in this country was against the war. It was like a laser beam. We were all aimed in the same direction. The power of this weapon turns out to be that of a custard pie dropped from a stepladder 6 feet high.” So, with this podcast, we’re just throwing custard pies. 

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