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I talk with Taffy Brodesser-Akner about her profile of Ethan Hawke, and how the work of trying to do great work is the story of not only Hawke's career but Taffy's. Both faced dismissive sneers for believing in themselves, for wanting to do, as Taffy says, soul-affirming art. Both persisted anyway. Today Hawke is much more than a pretty face and Taffy's recently released novel is a New York Times bestseller, where some critics have gushed about how she's a 21st-century Philip Roth. Taffy and I recorded this episode before she'd finished the novel, an idea which will serve as a goose-bumpy coda for anyone who listens to the end.

Once you do, you'll want to know about Taffy's other stories, and the writers she admires.

Taffy talked a lot about the time Nicki Minaj fell asleep on her. Here's that piece

 

She also mentioned her epic story on Gwyneth Paltrow. A lot of my female colleagues at ESPN still talk about it

She wrote a 12,000-word story on synchronized swimmers. People in the office still talk about that too. (This was probably her signature piece at ESPN.)

Taffy and I both look up to Tom Junod. He's the paterfamilias of so many magazine writers working today. He now writes for ESPN, but his name was made at Esquire

 Vanessa Grigoriadis is an author and contributing writer at Vanity Fair and The New York Times Magazine. The excerpt of her book is pretty revealing about the state of sex on college campuses in a post #MeToo age. 

John Jeremiah Sullivan wrote the best magazine piece on Christianity I've ever read. 

Taffy talks about the editor Adam Sternbergh. He's also a pretty acclaimed novelist. 

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