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I Have Some Questions for You

I Have Some Questions for You

by Rebecca Makkai

Narrated by Julia Whelan, JD Jackson

Unabridged — 14 hours, 4 minutes

Rebecca Makkai
I Have Some Questions for You

I Have Some Questions for You

by Rebecca Makkai

Narrated by Julia Whelan, JD Jackson

Unabridged — 14 hours, 4 minutes

Rebecca Makkai

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Notes From Your Bookseller

Bodie Kane has always been plagued by questions about a murder that rocked her boarding school in 1995 ... When she returns to campus as a professor, the doubt she has kept at bay about the investigation comes creeping back. Does she know something that could crack the case wide open?  An enthralling mystery, an interrogation of the past, an entrancing campus novel, I Have Some Questions for You is a propulsive page-turner.


“A twisty, immersive whodunit perfect for fans of Donna Tartt's The Secret History.” -People 

"Spellbinding." -The New York Times Book Review

"[An] irresistible literary page-turner." -The Boston Globe

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2023 by TIME, NPR, USA Today, Elle, Newsweek, Salon, Bustle, AARP, The Millions, Good Housekeeping, and more

The riveting new novel - "part true-crime page-turner, part campus coming-of-age" (San Francisco Chronicle) - from the author of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist The Great Believers

A successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane is content to forget her past-the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school, and the murder of her former roommate, Thalia Keith, in the spring of their senior year. Though the circumstances surrounding Thalia's death and the conviction of the school's athletic trainer, Omar Evans, are hotly debated online, Bodie prefers-needs-to let sleeping dogs lie.

But when the Granby School invites her back to teach a course, Bodie is inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent ¿aws. In their rush to convict Omar, did the school and the police overlook other suspects? Is the real killer still out there? As she falls down the very rabbit hole she was so determined to avoid, Bodie begins to wonder if she wasn't as much of an outsider at Granby as she'd thought-if, perhaps, back in 1995, she knew something that might have held the key to solving the case.

In I Have Some Questions for You, award-winning author Rebecca Makkai has crafted her most irresistible novel yet: a stirring investigation into collective memory and a deeply felt examination of one woman's reckoning with her past, with a trans¿xing mystery at its heart. Timely, hypnotic, and populated with a cast of unforgettable characters, I Have Some Questions for You is at once a compulsive page-turner and a literary triumph.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 11/07/2022

Makkai returns after her Pulitzer-finalist The Great Believers with a clever and deeply thoughtful story involving a 1990s boarding school murder and its repercussions decades later. Bodie Kane, a successful 40-year-old podcaster, returns from Los Angeles to her alma mater in New Hampshire in 2018 to teach. After two of her students team up on a Serial-like podcast about the killing of Thalia Keith, whose murder was pinned on the school’s Black athletic trainer, Omar Evans, questions are raised about the state’s flimsy case against Omar and Thalia’s classmates’ racist assumptions about his guilt. Meanwhile, Bodie reexamines her own understanding of what happened, and comes to grips with the predatory behavior of her and Thalia’s beloved music teacher. Just as Makkai brought a keen perspective to the 1980s with her previous novel, she does a brilliant job here at showing how in the ’90s girls were conditioned to shrug off sexual assault. A steady stream of precise, cringe-inducing period details—Thalia’s manipulative jock boyfriend belts out “Come to My Window” while drunk—prove the reader’s in good hands. A final act, set in spring 2022, brings more of the classmates together for a deliciously complex reckoning. This is sure to be a hit. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi Inc. (Feb.)

From the Publisher

Thought-provoking, deeply unsettling and undeniably riveting...A fully immersive, addictive whodunit.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“A spellbinding work...[Makkai’s] prose is lean yet lush, with short, incantatory chapters and sentences as taut as piano wire.” New York Times Book Review

“Enthralling...Rich in incident and alive with expressive imagery.” —Wall Street Journal

“A great accomplishment. [I Have Some Questions for You] is at once a campus novel, a piercing reflection on the appeal and ethics of the true crime genre, and a story of Me Too reckoning. It is also the most irresistible literary page-turner I have read in years...Exquisitely suspenseful and enormously entertaining.” —Priscilla Gilman, The Boston Globe

“[I Have Some Questions for You]
embraces the intricate plotting and emotional heft that made [Makkai’s] previous novel, The Great Believers, a Pulitzer finalist...Makkai sharply conveys the insidiousness of misogyny...[and] deftly explores how remembrance can melt into reverie...Her patient, evocative character work prevents Omar and Thalia from becoming types...The result is not a book that leers at a discrete and unfathomable act of violence but one that investigates...‘two stolen lives.’” —The New Yorker

“Vastly entertaining . . . both a thickly-plotted, character-driven mystery and a stylishly self-aware novel of ideas . . . in a twist worthy of Poe, Makkai suggests that the truth alone may not set you free or lay spirits to rest.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR's “Fresh Air”

“Bewitching.” —Vanity Fair

“[An] addictive page-turner.” —O Quarterly

“As we race through [I Have Some Questions for You], we’re pulled into playing much the same role as Bodie does: trying to piece together the various stories, eagerly awaiting a verdict . . . [Makkai] leaves us to fill in the gaps, to conjure the lurid details from scraps and rumors—trapped in a quest, her agile book reminds us, that should always leave us second-guessing.” —The Atlantic

“A sleekly plotted literary murder mystery…Makkai has written a complicated whodunit fueled by feminist rage as Bodie relentlessly interrogates her past and recalls the countless murders of girls and women whose stories have been all but lost in our collective memory.” —Associated Press

I Have Some Questions for You asks us to examine many things: high school, the ’90s, privilege, justice, sexual harassment, what we owe the dead. Like the true crime podcasts it’s modeled on, it’s addictive, well told and a little bit unsettling.” Los Angeles Times

“Gripping...a damn good story...[Makkai turns] abstractions of personal, social, and cultural politics into a practical, deeply felt and occasionally even thrilling reality.” —Star-Tribune

“Makkai combines skilled storytelling with abundant human insight. [I Have Some Questions for You] is so well-plotted and thought-provoking that readers may struggle with conflicting impulses to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next or to stop and think about what it all means.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Hits all the high notes, complete with at least a few revelations you won't see coming.” —Good Housekeeping

“[I Have Some Questions for You] calls into question our relationships to memory and power while also challenging readers to reconsider how we think about race, sex, and class.” —Time

“Makkai has crafted an un-put-downable, captivating boarding school mystery novel with podcasting, teaching, race, divorce, parenting, professional drive, and teen dynamics as undercurrents . . . The writing in this book is absolutely A+ sensational. Pure perfection.” —Zibby Owens,

“Makkai’s sleek, beautifully crafted prose and sharp sense of character make I Have Some Questions for You a pleasure to read even as its twisting plot propels us into darkness.” —Tampa Bay Times

“[A] deft murder-mystery . . . Makkai’s poignant mediation on memory and loss is distinguished by clear prose [and] memorable (and flawed) characters.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Perfectly illustrate[s] the present mood.” —Dallas Voice

The Secret History meets Serial…[in this] modern campus novel.” —LitHub

“Makkai’s triumph of a novel mixes clever storytelling with an exploration of consent, control and memory . . . satisfying and cleverly multi-layered . . . combines the smarts of literary fiction with the thrills of a whodunnit, topped with all the divertissements of the best boarding school-set dramas.” —Financial Times (London)

“Dark academia meets state of America in this brilliant, original novel.” —Daily Mail

“An enthralling mystery, an interrogation of the past, an entrancing campus novel, I Have Some Questions for You is a propulsive page-turner.” —B&N Reads

“Part boarding school drama, part forensic whodunnit, I Have Some Questions for You is a true literary mystery—haunting and hard to put down.” —Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize—winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad and The Candy House

“I’ve been waiting years for a book like this! You will laugh, think, think again, cry and stay up all night finishing it. Unputdownable and unforgettable. Makkai has written the book of the season.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize—winning author of Less and Less Is Lost

“Both a deeply satisfying crime story and a thoughtful, even provocative, novel of ideas, I Have Some Questions for You narrates one woman’s interrogation of her own past while in turn posing difficult questions directly to its reader: about sex, power, privilege, and the ambient violence of contemporary American life. What a feat.” —Rumaan Alam, New York Times bestselling author of Leave the World Behind

“Some books are so universal that they feel bizarrely specific: I read I Have Some Questions for You as if it was written just for me, but I can't imagine who wouldn't love it. Timely, provocative, nuanced, generous—Rebecca Makkai astonishes once again with the perfect combination of brains and heart.” —Laura Lippmann, author of Dream Girl

“Rebecca Makkai’s extraordinary storytelling gifts are on full display in I Have Some Questions for You, a tense, sharply drawn, and impeccably plotted literary mystery and an urgent, propulsive story of the collision of gender, race, and class in a New England boarding school. I loved walking alongside narrator Bodie Kane—angry, obsessive, struggling with her own traumatic memories—in her imperfect attempts to reckon with a past she longs to leave behind.” —Elizabeth Wetmore, New York Times bestselling author of Valentine

“One of the things I love most about Rebecca Makkai’s writing is her absolutely engaging voice; reading her books feels like hearing a well-told story by a longtime friend. This book—through the voice of its beautifully complex narrator, Bodie Kane—brings readers along on a journey they won't forget.” —Liz Moore, New York Times bestselling author of Long Bright River

“Clever and deeply thoughtful . . . a deliciously complex reckoning . . . [I Have Some Questions for You] is sure to be a hit.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

“A thought-provoking and delicious tale of life and death and justice that very well may have gone sideways.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“Engrossing . . . a well-plotted indictment of systemic racism and misogyny craftily disguised as a thriller and beautifully constructed to make its points.” —BookPage (starred review)

“A beguiling campus novel . . . Chilled as the deep New England winters during which it takes place and twisty with the slowly found and then suddenly illuminated branches of memory, Makkai's rich, winding story dazzles from cover to cover.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Every year, I look for the novels that truly respect their victims, and think carefully about the tropes of true crime; for 2023, [I Have Some Questions for You] is that novel.” —Molly Odintz, CrimeReads

“Makkai's novel takes on some of the defining issues of its time [...] without battering readers with them. Instead, Makkai carefully winds her themes around her story's scaffolding, which strengthens her masterly plot even more.” —Shelf Awareness

“[Makkai adds] intriguing layers of complication . . . Well plotted, well written, and well designed.” —Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal

★ 02/10/2023

California-based podcaster/professor Bodie Kane has been invited to teach some mini-courses at Granby, the New Hampshire coed boarding school she attended as a teenager. Bodie's podcasting students are aware of her notoriety during her student days—she was the roommate of Thalia Keith, who was murdered on campus in the mid-1990s—and they want to reopen the case for their class project. The initial investigation was sloppy at best. Omar, the Black athletic director at the time, was convicted of the murder, based partly on a questionable statement Bodie made to the police. Omar has been in prison ever since. Now, 23 years later, an uneasy Bodie and her students conduct a deep dive into Thalia's complicated relationships with students and faculty as they all dig for more clues. Getting in the way of the truth are the secrets that all the key players, including Bodie, have been keeping for decades. VERDICT Pulitzer Prize finalist Makkai (The Great Believers) knows whereof she writes; she lives on the campus of the boarding school she attended as a teenager, where her husband now teaches and her child is a student. Her lifelong, three-pronged immersion in that culture has resulted in a thought-provoking and delicious tale of life and death and justice that very well may have gone sideways.—Beth E. Andersen

Kirkus Reviews

Art imitates life: A podcast explores whether a man who has served more than 20 years in prison for the murder of a young woman was wrongfully convicted.

While Makkai's latest is likely inspired by the Adnan Syed/Serial story—in the news recently as Syed's conviction was vacated and he was released from prison—she has added intriguing layers of complication to her version. Bodie Kane, producer of a hit podcast about Hollywood starlets, has been invited back to Granby, the elite New Hampshire boarding school she graduated from in 1995, to teach a course on podcasting during the two-week “mini-mester”of January 2018. Among the topics Bodie suggests to her students is the murder of her classmate Thalia Keith, which occurred in the spring of their senior year on the night of the school musical. A Black man who worked for the school as an athletic trainer was convicted and imprisoned for the murder of the White Thalia, but doubts have fueled interest in the case ever since, including a 2005 episode of Dateline and a website promoting the view that the boyfriend did it, As Bodie works with her high schoolers to investigate, a major #MeToo–type scandal breaks in her own life, involving her partner, a well-known visual artist. Meanwhile, her return to Granby forces her to confront her troubled younger self: the ways she was affected by her disastrous childhood and her connection to a teacher who was certainly a predator and may even have been the murderer. Punctuating the story with lists of references to familiar crimes—“the one where” this or that happened—Makkai places the fictional murder in a societal context of violence against women and the obsession with true crime. Fans of The Great Believers (2018) should be forewarned that this book does not have the profound impact of its predecessor, partly because the emotions brought up by its topic are on the outrage-anger spectrum rather than the grief-sorrow one. Also, Makkai seems not to want us to fall in love with Bodie, who herself is a bit cold, but perhaps this is because the whole narrative is addressed to a “you” she is furious with.

Well plotted, well written, and well designed to make its points.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940174948198
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 02/21/2023
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,158

Read an Excerpt


I first watched the video in 2016. I was in bed on my laptop, with headphones, worried Jerome would wake up and I'd have to explain. Down the hall, my children were sleeping. I could have gone and checked on them, felt their warm cheeks and hot breath. I could have smelled my daughter's hair-and maybe the scent of damp lavender and a toddler's scalp would have been enough to send me to sleep.

But a friend I hadn't seen in twenty years had just sent me the link, and so I clicked.

Lerner and Loewe's Camelot. I was both stage manager and tech director. One fixed camera, too close to the orchestra, too far from the unmiked adolescent singers, 1995 VHS quality, some member of the AV club behind the lens. And my God, we knew we weren't great, but we weren't even as good as we thought we were. Whoever uploaded it two decades later, whoever added the notes below with the exact time markers for when Thalia Keith shows up, had also posted the list of cast and crew. Beth Docherty as a petite Guinevere, Sakina John glowing as Morgan le Fay with a crown of gold spikes atop her cornrows, Mike Stiles beautiful and embarrassed as King Arthur. My name is misspelled, but it's there, too.

The curtain call is the last shot where you clearly see Thalia, her dark curls distinguishing her from the washed-out mass. Then most everyone stays onstage to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Mrs. Ross, our director, to pull her up from the front row where she sat every night jotting notes. She's so young, something I hadn't registered then.

A few kids exit, return in confusion. Orchestra members hop onstage to sing, Mrs. Ross's husband springs from the audience with flowers, the crew comes on in black shirts and black jeans. I don't appear; I assume I stayed up in the box. It would have been like me to sit it out.

Including the regrouping and singing, the birthday business lasts fifty-two seconds, during which you never see Thalia clearly. In the comments, someone had zoomed in on a bit of green dress at one side of the frame, posted side-by-side photos of that smear of color and the dress Thalia wore-first covered in gauze as Nimue, the enchantress, the Lady of the Lake, and then ungauzed, with a simple headdress, as Lady Anne. But there were several green dresses. My friend Carlotta's was one. There's a chance that, by then, Thalia was gone.

Most of the discussion below the video focused on timing. The show was set to begin at 7:00, but we likely started our mercifully abridged version five minutes late. Maybe more. The tape omitted intermission, and there was speculation on how long the intermission of a high school musical would last. Depending on what you believe about these two variables, the show ended sometime between 8:45 and 9:15. I should have known. Once, there would have been a binder with my meticulous notes. But no one ever asked for it.

The window the medical examiner allowed for Thalia's time of death was 8:00 p.m. to midnight, with the beginning of the slot curtailed by the musical-the reason the show's exact end time had become the subject of infinite fascination online.

I came here from YouTube, one commenter had written in 2015, linking to a separate video. Watch this. It PROVES they bungled the case. The timeline makes no sense.

Someone else wrote: Wrong guy in prison bc of racist cops in schools pocket.

And below that: Welcome to Tinfoil Hat Central! Focus your energies on an ACTUAL UNSOLVED CASE.

Watching the video twenty-one years after the fact, the memory that dislodged from my brain's dark corners was looking up lusty in the library dictionary with my friend Fran, who was in the chorus. To quiet our giggling about "The Lusty Month of May," Mrs. Ross had announced that "lusty simply means vibrant. You're welcome to look it up." But what did Mrs. Ross know about lust? Lust was for the young, not married drama teachers. But ("Holy apeshit," as Fran would have said, might have said), look, according to Webster, lusty indeed meant healthy and strong; full of vigor. One of the examples was a lusty beef stew. We fled the library laughing, Fran singing, "Oh, a lusty stew of beef!"

Where had I kept that memory, all those years?

The first time through the video I skipped around, really only watching the end; I had no desire to listen at length to teenage voices, poorly tuned string instruments. But then I went back-the same night, two a.m., my melatonin tablet failing-and watched all the parts with Thalia. Act I, Scene 2 was her only scene as Nimue. She appeared upstage in a dry ice fog, singing hypnotically behind Merlin. Something bothered me about how she kept glancing away from him as she sang, looking offstage right, as if she needed prompting. She couldn't have; all she needed to do was sing her one repetitive song.

I climbed carefully over Jerome to get his iPad from his nightstand and brought the video up there, this time zooming in on her face, making it larger if not clearer. It's subtle, but she looks irritated.

And then, as Merlin gives his farewell speech, bidding goodbye to Arthur and Camelot, she looks away again, nearly over her shoulder. She mouths something; it's not my imagination. Her lips start to close and then part, a formation that makes a W sound when I replicate it. She's saying, I'm almost sure, the word what. Maybe just to a stagehand, one of my crew holding up a forgotten prop. But what could have been so important in that moment, right before she exited?

As of 2016, no one in the comments section had fixated on this. They only cared about the timing of the curtain call, whether she was indeed onstage for that last minute. (That and how pretty she was.) Fifty-two seconds, their reasoning went, was enough for Thalia Keith to meet someone waiting backstage, to leave with that person before anyone saw.

At the very end of the tape: Our illustrious orchestra conductor-slash-music director, bow-tied, baton still in hand, begins an announcement no one's listening to: "Thank you all! As you leave-" but the video cedes to a buzz of gray lines. Presumably something about dorm check-in, or taking your trash with you.

Check out Guinevere the last two seconds, one comment reads. Is that a flask? I wanna be friends with Guinevere! I froze the video and yes, it's a silver flask Beth's holding aloft, maybe confident her friends will recognize it but any teachers in the audience will be too distracted to notice. Or maybe Beth was already too buzzed to care.

Another comment asks if anyone can identify the audience members passing the camera as they leave.

Another reads, If you watch the 2005 Dateline special, don't listen to anything they say. SO many errors. Also, it's THA- like the beginning of "thatch" or "thanks" and Lester Holt keeps saying THAY-lia.

Someone replies: I thought it was TAHL-ia.

Nope, nope, nope, the original poster writes. I knew her sister.

Another comment: This whole thing makes me so sad. Followed by three crying emojis and a blue heart.

I dreamed for weeks afterward not about Thalia's head turn, her mouthed question, but about Beth Docherty's flask. In my dreams, I had to find it in order to hide it again. I held my giant binder. My notes were no help.

The theater crowd had begged for that show-had brought it up constantly the year before, whenever Mrs. Ross had dorm duty. There'd been a Broadway revival in '93, and even those of us who hadn't seen it had heard the soundtrack, understood it entailed medieval cleavage, onstage kissing, fabulous solos. For me, it meant castle backgrounds, thrones, trees on casters-nothing tricky, no flesh-eating houseplant, no Ford Deluxe convertible to roll onstage. For the journalists of the future, it would mean endless easy metaphors. Boarding school as kingdom in the woods, Thalia as enchantress, Thalia as princess, Thalia as martyr. What could be more romantic? What's as perfect as a girl stopped dead, midformation? Girl as blank slate. Girl as reflection of your desires, unmarred by her own. Girl as sacrifice to the idea of girl. Girl as a series of childhood photographs, all marked with the aura of girl who will die young, as if even the third grade portrait photographer should have seen it written on her face, that this was a girl who would only ever be a girl.

The bystander, the voyeur, even the perpetrator-they're all off the hook when the girl was born dead.

On the internet and on TV, they love that.

And you, Mr. Bloch: I suppose it's been convenient for you, too.


Against all odds, in January of 2018, I found myself hurtling back toward campus in one of those good old Blue Cabs that had picked me up so many times, so long ago, from the Manchester airport. My driver said he'd been making runs to Granby all day.

"They all went on vacation somewhere," he said.

I said, "They were home for holiday break."

He snorted, as if I'd confirmed his rotten suspicions.

He asked if I taught at Granby. I was startled, for a moment, that he hadn't taken me for a student. But here was my reflection in his rearview: a put-together adult with lines around her eyes. I said no, not really, I was just visiting to teach a two-week course. I didn't explain that I'd gone to Granby, that I knew the route we were traveling like an old song. It felt like too much information to lay on him in casual conversation. I didn't explain the concept of mini-mester, either, because it would sound twee, the exact kind of thing he'd imagine these spoiled kids getting up to.

It was Fran's idea to bring me back. Fran herself had barely left; after a few years away for college, grad school, time abroad, she returned to teach history at Granby. Her wife works in Admissions, and they live on campus with their sons.

My driver's name was Lee, and he told me he'd "been driving these Granby kids since their granddaddies went there." He explained that Granby was the kind of school you could only get into through family connections. I wanted to tell him this was dead wrong, but my window for correcting his assumption that I was an outsider had long passed. He told me that "these kids get up to trouble you wouldn't believe" and asked if I'd read the article "a few years back" in Rolling Stone. That article ("Live Free or Die: Drink, Drugs, and Drowning at an Elite New Hampshire Boarding School") came out in 1996, and yes, we'd all read it. We emailed each other about it from our college dorms, livid over its errors and assumptions-much as we would all text each other nine years later when Dateline dragged everything up again.

Lee said, "They don't supervise those kids a bit. Only thing I'm happy about, they have a rule against Uber."

I said, "That's funny, I've heard the opposite. About the supervision."

"Yeah, well, they're lying. They want you to come teach, they'll say whatever."

I'd only been back to Granby three times in the nearly twenty-three years since graduation. There was one early reunion when I lived in New York; I stayed an hour. I returned for Fran and Anne's wedding in Old Chapel in 2008. In July of 2013, I was in Vermont for a few days and came to see Fran, to meet her first baby. That was it. I'd avoided our tenth and fifteenth and twentieth, ignored the LA alumni meetups. It wasn't till that Camelot video surfaced and Fran looped me in on a subsequent group text, which devolved into theater memories, that I grew genuinely nostalgic for the place. I thought I'd wait for 2020, a reunion my classmates would show for-our twenty-fifth as well as the school's bicentennial. But then, this invitation.

It was convenient, too, that Yahav, the man I'd been having a dragged-out, desperate long-distance affair with, was just two hours away, teaching for the year at BU Law. Yahav had an Israeli accent and was tall and brilliant and neurotic. Our relationship wasn't such that I could simply fly out to see him. But I could find myself in the neighborhood.

Plus I wanted to see if I could do it-if, despite my nerves, my almost adolescent panic, I was ready to measure myself against the girl who'd slouched her way through Granby. In LA I knew in theory that I was accomplished-a sometime college professor with a lauded podcast, a woman who could make a meal from farmers' market ingredients and get her kids to school reasonably dressed-but I didn't particularly feel, on a daily basis, the distance I'd come. At Granby, I knew it would hit me hard.

So there was the money, and the guy, and my ego, and-below it all, a note too low to hear-there was Thalia, there was the way that ever since I'd watched that video, I'd felt just slightly misaligned.

In any case: They asked, I said yes, and here I was, buckled into the backseat letting Lee drive me to campus at ten miles over the speed limit.

He said, "What are you gonna teach them, some Shakespeare?"

I explained that I was teaching two classes: one on podcasting, another on film studies.

"Film studies!" he said. "They watching movies, or making them?"

I felt there was no answer that wouldn't make Lee think worse of both me and the school. I said, "The history of film," which was both correct and incomplete. I added that until recently I'd taught film studies at UCLA, which had the desired effect-I've used this trick before-of getting him straight onto Bruins football. I could make noises of agreement while he monologued. We only had twenty minutes left in the drive, and the odds were low now that he'd either ask me about podcasts or mansplain Quentin Tarantino.

The school had invited me specifically to teach the film class, and I'd volunteered to double up because it would mean twice the money-but also because I've never known how to sit still, and if I was leaving my kids and heading to the woods for two weeks, I didn't want to just sit around. The need to keep busy is both a symptom of high-functioning anxiety and the key to my success.

My podcast at the time was Starlet Fever, a serial history of women in film-the ways the industry chewed them up and spat them out. It was going as well as a podcast reasonably could, occasionally hitting top slots in various download metrics. There was a bit of money in it, and sometimes, thrillingly, a celebrity would mention us in an interview. My cohost, Lance, had been able to quit his landscaping gig, I'd been able to turn down the adjuncting crumbs UCLA threw my way, and we had a couple of literary agents offering representation if we wanted to cowrite a book. We were knee-deep in prep for our upcoming season, centered on Rita Hayworth, but it was research I could do from anywhere.

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