S1, Ep5 How to Fail: Olivia Laing

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This week on How To Fail, we’re joined by the brilliant writer Olivia Laing. Her three critically-acclaimed works of non-fiction, To The River, The Trip to Echo Spring and The Lonely City, have explored themes of alcoholism, loneliness and suicide (and yet somehow manage to be deeply uplifting to read). Her recent debut novel, Crudo, has everyone from Jilly Cooper to Viv Albertine in veritable ecstasies.

Olivia talks to us about losing her way in her 20s, how the torture of romantic break-ups has ultimately led to some of her greatest creative work and about what it’s like to be made redundant from a job you love. Along the way, we discuss gender fluidity, whether women are conditioned to self-deprecate, getting married at 40, why being raised by lesbians made Olivia less susceptible to patriarchal assumptions about What Men Want. We also debate whether Brighton has more dogs on strings than the average British city (spoiler alert: Elizabeth thinks that yes, it definitely does).

How To Fail is hosted by Elizabeth Day and produced by Chris Sharp

How To Fail is sponsored by Moorish

Crudo by Olivia Laing is out now, published by Picador

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Olivia Laing @olivialanguage

Moorish @moorishhumous

Picador @picadorbooks

45 episodes