Book Launch for Brad Listi: Be Brief and Tell Them Everything

 

Be Brief and Tell Them Everything by Brad Listi

A darkly funny meditation on creativity and family. The life of an author who is struggling to write his next novel & understand his son’s disabilities, set against a backdrop of escalating human insanity in contemporary Los Angeles.”

Twelve years in the making, Brad Listi read from his new book, Be Brief and Tell Them Everything, at Chevalier Bookstore, the oldest bookstore in Los Angeles. 

Listi shares the darkness, the turbulence and his sense of humor about the madness of living in a city like Los Angeles where “the unifying theme is that there is no unifying theme, the point is that there is no point.” Listi questions everything and asks: “What does it mean to be an artist, a husband, a father?” In life, you can “be whoever you want to be. Live however you want to live. Scrap and claw and fight and dream, and pretend to be infinite in your infinity pool.”

On his arduous journey to this book, Listi implores:  “Who am I? What happened? And what should I do? And why am I here? The problem of how to be a person. The issue of what to write down.” As a writer working on a memoir, I felt comforted by questions which I worry about as well.

Over the last decade he has been interviewing authors on his podcast, OtherPPL, and finding, “the only critical ingredient is transparency, the willingness to face things openly in the company of another person. On a functional level it can feel like an active demonstration of what it means to be human. When this happens, things get effortless and affirming in a hurry, occasionally even transcendent. The basic, deep relief of truly communicating with another human being, giving the mind its proper exercise, and silencing the voice in your head.”

Listi ponders the complexity of being human in this conversation with his wife, Franny, 
He tells her, “The unlived life of a parent can have enormous psychological impacts on a child. Our job or one of our jobs, I think, is to figure out what we’re called to do. And then do what we’re called to do.”

Franny asks him, “So what are you called to do? 
He tells her, “I’m called to articulate my confusion.” 
This scene and several others made me laugh out loud as I was reading. 
Another time he tells her, “There’s an asteroid called Apophsis, Named after the Egyptian god of death. I was reading about it in National Geographic. It’s gonna buzz past Earth in 2029, and if it gets close enough, and moves through something called “the keyhole,” then we’re guaranteed a direct hit in 2036.”
“Perfect.” she says. 
“The entire west coast of North America will be obliterated, I say. But only if it goes through the keyhole. If it misses the keyhole, we’re fine."
"Keep me posted," she says.

Life is full of hardships and Listi and his family have gone through many tragedies. As Listi writes, “At times it can leave me feeling like I weigh a thousand pounds…In my experience, there’s only so much benefit to be derived from keeping a running tab on the sadness—a sadness that will, I suspect, come and go in waves for the rest of our lives.” Listi leans into all that has gone wrong and reminds us that “at times, I can feel a sense of enormous pride over the simple fact that we’re managing. The triumph of survival. It isn’t easy.” 

He reminds himself “of world historical figures who had it way worse than I do, who endured unthinkable miseries but found a way to triumph in spite of it all. Nelson Mandela and his twenty-seven years of unjust imprisonment. Anne Frank in the attic with her diary. Helen Keller finding her way out of the darkness. People who have absorbed some of the most dreadful absurdities that life can serve up, but who somehow managed to retain their grace and keep a firm hold on the best of themselves.” I love this historical perspective. One of my favorite proverbs is: “Fall Down 7, Get Up 8!”

I agree with him that there is a “need to address the darkness but [not] get to the point where I’m bludgeoning anyone with it… It is a problem trying to write about the crushing sadness and capture it accurately, without hyperbole, and with some jokes thrown in to make the process bearable.”

In his auto-fiction, Listi suggests that we “forget about trying to have a better past, and accept that some questions have no answers. The answer is that there are no answers. And that’s the only answer there will ever be.”

Listi hopes for us, his family and himself that we make peace with reality and our challenges and come to see what happens to us “less as a mark of difference and more as a binding thread.

Get your copy of Be Brief and Tell Them Everything

Listen to Brad read the beginning of his new book on APPLE PODCASTS , YouTube, Spotify and iHeartRadio:

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.5 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers”

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