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October 28, 2022 43 min

For the next few months, we’re sharing some of our favorite conversations from the podcast’s archives. This week’s segments first appeared in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

The longtime New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman is the first person ever to hold that position at the paper, and he’s a natural fit for it: In 2017, when his biography of the late-night host David Letterman was published, he explained on the podcast that his early love of Letterman had shaped not only his love of comedy but to some extent his outlook on the world: “I worshiped David Letterman as a kid,” Zinoman told the host Pamela Paul. “He is one of these people who I loved before I thought like a critic. And I do believe that you love things as a kid in a deep way that you don’t love things as an adult. And to a large degree I think my sense of humor was defined by David Letterman. When I was a kid I talked like him. I smiled like him. My sense of sarcasm came from him. Even as an adult I can sort of see traces of it.”

Also this week, we revisit our 2018 conversation with the New York Times Magazine writer Sam Anderson, who talked about basketball, Oklahoma City and his book “Boom Town.”

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to

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