"Be Brief and Tell Them Everything": A Rumination and Kind of Review

"Be Brief and Tell Them Everything": A Rumination and Kind of Review

As I began to ruminate on Be Brief and Tell Them Everything, the new novel—it is a novel isn’t it? We’ll come back to that—by author and literary podcaster Brad Listi, I got stuck on an image of boxes within boxes, then I thought, no, that’s not the imagery I want, it’s more like Russian nesting dolls, that’s it.

Which might be correct, though it might also be that as I was reading the book—it is a book, right? Let’s come back to that too—and thinking about it, I also watched the new seasons of Russian Doll and Stranger Things and became attached to this concept of losing myself in ideas, clues and answers nesting within clues, ideas and answers, and so on, as a means for making sense of my sense of the book.

This book took twelve years to write. It started out as a novel and then it became a different novel and then it was another, different novel and then it was an essay collection and then it was nothing for awhile and then it was a memoir and then it became a novel again and now it’s whatever it is. 

–page 7

The book itself makes sense, full stop—a guy named Brad Listi who has a podcast wants to write, or is it finish, fabricate certainly, the book that has eluded him for years—but that doesn’t mean I could entirely make sense of my experience of consuming it.

But what is it?

There is this nesting thing happening in my brain, there is a public figure, Brad Listi, I kind of know because I kind of know the person on a personal level, though really I don’t, and I supplement what I think I know about that person by listening to their podcast, where said person, in this case Brad Listi, podcaster and author, talks about themselves and their life, including his efforts to write his second novel, which not unlike Russian Doll and Stranger Things, is parts metaphysical and horror story, involves the convoluted relationships and emotions that family brings, the effort to search for meaning and a desire to illustrate one’s personal narrative. 

It is also a road novel.

A celebration of the potential for drug use to achieve something.

All that and a desire to illuminate the act of the creation.

As I said it makes sense.

To me.

But what is it?

Which, reader please note, is not a comment on quality. Be Brief and Tell Them Everything is gripping and sad and frustrating, transparent and ugly and beautiful.

It’s a gut punch.

I love a good gut punch.

On paper.

But what is it?

It is auto fiction, the story of someone’s story, Listi’s, a literary regurgitation of some kind, an interpretation of the facts of his life as he knows them (and listeners like myself think we know them), and what it means to write that story, to attempt to make sense of the joys, frustrations, triumphs, failures and fears, so much fear, of living, parenting and creating.

A story I’ve been telling myself for a long time is that my identity has been shaped by the tragedies I’ve been witness to, and suffered through. The untimely deaths in particular. There have been too many of those. Accidents, illnesses, suicides. And of course Oscar’s health challenges.

–page 79 

I feel like maybe I’m not telling you enough about Be Brief and Tell Them Everything, and you’re right, I’m not, because it’s an experience, which really is the experience of entering someone’s experience in real time—the act of writing a book, trying to get pregnant, raising a child with special needs— and getting out of one’s own head so that any of the above is even possible in any sort of decent way at all.

So, what is it?

It’s a journey, which may not be yours, it’s Listi’s, but he’s allowed us to join him on it—we’re also complicit in its execution and success, because we feel like we’ve been there every step of the way—and it’s painful and delightful, all the more so if you believe that you know anything about him.

Is that necessary to enjoy the book?

Not even slightly.

It’s a rumination on rumination, boxes within boxes, a visceral and vicarious invitation into someone’s head even as they’re trying to climb out of it.

Is that necessary for creation?

No, but it was for Listi, and that’s what we ultimately find by going on this journey with him.

Brad Listi had to write a book.


Because that’s what we do.

The we being writers.

Listi also had to find that book and he found it in excavating what he knew, and knows, which is all we ever do when we create.



Chase ideas.

Twist words into something that makes sense to us and that we hope makes sense to you.

Though also not.

Which is to say, Zapruder said, if you’re struggling with something, uncomfortable in some way, then maybe the best approach is simply to talk about that in the book, Chekhov said as much, too. Address it directly—aware of the fact that it’s not about solving anything on the page. Just to state the problem clearly, on its own, can be enough.

–page 156

Authors, creatives, need to get whatever is nagging them out of their heads and our ego makes us believe someone will care.

People will care about this book, because many of us care about Listi, we listen to his show, he’s a presence in our lives, we believe we know something about him and we want it to all work out.

Even the creation of the book he’s talked about for all these years on his show.

Listi’s accomplishment is ours, and now I supposed he’ll have to start again, and we’ll have to follow him, because that’s how it works, rinse, repeat, boxes within boxes, marching forward all of it.

We create, we read, we ruminate and we have no choice in these matters.

Get Be Brief and Tell Them Everything at Bookshop or Amazon 

Author Website

Ben Tanzer

Review by Ben Tanzer

Ben Tanzer is an Emmy-award winning coach, creative strategist, podcaster, writer, teacher and social worker who has been helping nonprofits, publishers, authors, small business and career changers tell their stories for 20 plus years. He is the author of the soon to be re-released short story collection Upstate and several award-winning books, including the science fiction novel Orphans and the essay collections Lost in Space: A Father's Journey There and Back Again and Be Cool - a memoir (sort of). He is also a lover of all things book, taco, Gin and street art.

To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.


Zaltonin14's picture
Zaltonin14 October 3, 2022 - 5:33am

At one time, this book motivated me and I began to trade in Forex. Now I work through one good broker, here on Exness review, you can read it. I used to work with another broker and this one is much better. At least because support always helps.

MorganGwen's picture
MorganGwen November 8, 2022 - 1:28am

There are friends that really want you to be like them thank you my friend for telling me about Dr Ayoola. I was introduced to Dr Ayoola by my friend. me and my friend have been playing lottery games for some years now. and we are always running out of luck. One day my friend play and win. And I was surprise how my friend won the sun of 10 million euro I was asking him questions and he open up to me and told me it was by the help of Dr Ayoola so I ask him to help me. My friend gave me the contact of this great man call Dr Ayoola I contacted him and told him why I contacted him and also tell  him I got  his information form my friend. To cut the long story short Dr Ayoola help me with a winning number just as he did for my friend and I was able to won 13 million euro all thanks to you Dr Ayoola for your kind heart and for willing to help me and my friend I will for ever grateful to you sir because you have done what on one can do for me. You can contact him today and be the next to testify. this man is good when it come to giving winning numbers I will drop his details just Incase you need him to help you thank you sir you can contact him via  drayoolasolutionhome@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/ text or call +14809032128

joshbuster53's picture
joshbuster53 November 15, 2022 - 2:28am

All  thank to Dr Ayoola, My name is Josh Buster I live in California, I want to let the world know how this man changed my life and that of my family. I have been playing jackpot for so many years now hoping to win and start my own business, I have been a driver and same time I have being playing lottery game for more than 10 years now each time I play I always run out of luck. one day I was browsing with my phone when I saw some testimonies about this man call Dr Ayoola on how he has helped people win lottery games, I was shook and I ask myself if this is true and also contacted this man for help and told him everything, why I contacted him. He asked me if I have been playing lottery game before now and I said yes. He told me that he will help me with the right number to win if only we work together which I told him I am ready to work with him. After working with him he gave me a number to play, after playing the number Dr Ayoola gave to me, I came out a winner of jackpot of 1,000,000 millions dollars  all thanks to you Dr Ayoola for your help I am so happy now. And now I am fulfilling my promise by sharing your good work to the world. Dr Ayoola is  a great man and a man GOD has sent to help people and put a smile on peoples face. Thank you for what you have done for me Dr Ayoola I will be for ever grateful to you, you can contact him if you are willing to change your story for good via  drayoolasolutionhome@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Ayoola-105640401516053/ text or call +14809032128

Morning Gossip's picture
Morning Gossip November 15, 2022 - 3:55pm


Post From Ali Syed, From the UK Cryptocurrency Recovery, Lost BTC Recovery

Hello, my name is Ali Syed. I got scammed

Immediately, I contacted ULTIMATE HACKER JERRY & I trusted him because his reviews were from our local guild WILDER NEWTON. & within 4 hours of contacting him, I got all my funds back with an ROI. It was unbelievable. I must state, I had to send out my review also. He's indeed recommendable.


(Ultimatehackerjerry@seznam. cz)

WhatsAp (+15,51,20,2-2,3-3,5)

Ma Sha Allah

Annette Mylan's picture
Annette Mylan November 22, 2022 - 3:26am

Now You Can Stop Your Break Up, Divorce or Lovers Rejection…Even If Your Situation Seems Hopeless! I contacted a real spell caster DR Prince that helped me change my husband’s heart to love and want me again, and he really did and now we are very happy together. If you are here and your Lover is turning you down I will advise you to contact DR Prince . The potency of his spell is so effective and can reunite broken relationships and can also make one get pregnant no matter the situation and not only that, he also has the power to cure all types of diseases within the period of 48hours. I am a great testimony. Contact him today and thank me later. You can also contact him on WHATSAPP: +18144484537  EMAIL:  obinnaspelltemple@yahoo.com website   https://obinnaspelltemple.com