By Erin Clifford

Bret Easton Ellis (via Band of Outsiders)

The Bret Easton Ellis podcast debuted on November 18, 2013 with a two-part conversation with Kanye West. It was a meeting of two creative minds and set the framework for each subsequent episode: opening with a monologue by Ellis in which he explores his own thoughts on literature, film and pop culture, then poses a question to his guest, beginning a dialog.

Not so much of an interview as a conversation, the podcast has proven to be a good format for Ellis, whose inflammatory opinions have occasionally made him the target of criticism and even forced very public apologies. The podcast provides the kind of wide environment where the author can air his contrarian views and have the space to explain the thinking behind them.

An initial glance at the podcast’s roster of guests is also quite impressive. Kanye West, Marilyn Manson, Judd Apatow, Chuck Klosterman, Kevin Smith — it’s fascinating to listen to these Hollywood players, musical icons and respected writers discuss everything from the relationship between technology and creativity (West) to Sex and the City (Manson) to snark (Apatow) to social media (Klosterman) to cinephelia (Smith). While every episode is great and offers fascinating insights, there are three which stand out, though for different reasons:

B. J. Novak, best-known for playing Ryan on the TV show The Office, appears on Ellis’s podcast episode from February 17, 2014 to discuss his collection of short stories, One More Thing. Anyone who’s ever gone through the agony of creative pursuit will benefit from the discussion between these two very different writers. Ellis was conditioned early on to ignore critics and discusses how he’s never written to be loved or adored; Novak explains that he really does want to entertain everyone and his dedication is to his readers. What they both share, though, is the knowledge that their creations are exactly what they want to create, as opposed to a collaborative effort, say, like The Office. Listening to this episode just may catalyze your creative process.

The next standout episode features the creators/stars of the television show Portlandia, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, and is a complete train wreck. It opens with Ellis trumpeting that Brownstein is his first female guest on the show and stuttering through his thoughts on the allegations of misogyny that have been leveled at him throughout his career. Awkwardness is palpable throughout the episode. At the end of it, Brownstein points out, very sweetly, that she is not interested in being a token “first,” but even before that, there is immediate tension between Ellis and Armisen over The Hurt Locker. The episode is so painful that Ellis begins the next one addressing the “frosty atmosphere” of that “excruciating hour.”

James Van Der Beek starred in the film adaptation of Ellis’s novel The Rules of Attraction and also appeared on his podcast episode from June 23, 2014, which plays out as the exact opposite of the aforementioned train wreck. Van Der Beek is just a great guest, and he and Ellis have a a wonderful conversation which offers an in-depth look into one of Ellis’s best works.

Since the Bret Easton Ellis Podcast’s debut, a new episode has been released more or less each Monday, though there have recently been gaps that have been addressed by the host with vague references to his personal life. Who knows how long Ellis will keep the podcast going, but for now there’s always the hope of a new episode each Monday morning, not to mention the entire archive, which you can listen to here.

Erin Clifford is a freelance copywriter based out of Colorado Springs. When not distracting herself from work by listening to podcasts from her favorite comedians and writers, she can be found working on her blog created by and for people who unexpectedly found themselves going through the crazy ups and downs that military significant others have the pleasure and nightmare of experiencing. Overall, Erin is a lover of language, slayer of words, starer into the skies, writer of copy and passionate pursuer of knowledge. Email: Twitter: @StarsTheyShine Instagram: TheStarsTheyShine

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