Antonia Malchik - Exploring Culture & Complexity
Antonia Malchik is a Montana-based writer and essayist, and she’s also the author of the book “A Walking Life: Reclaiming Our Health and Freedom One Step at a Time.” She has written for publications including The Atlantic and High Country News, she also writes a regular Substack newsletter titled “On the Commons,” which I highly recommend. Antonia thinks deeply about a wide range of topics, including community, conservation, the environment, private property, the West, books, and more. She has a true talent for writing about complex subjects in an engaging, in-depth manner that both educates and challenges the reader.
Antonia grew up in northwest Montana-- her mother was a multigenerational Montanan and her father was a first-generation immigrant from the former Soviet Union. Her family heritage combined with her innate curiosity gave Antonia a unique perspective on the world that informs all of her work. She has lived in Moscow, Vienna, Australia, and other far-flung regions, but she has always been drawn back to the landscapes of her home state of Montana, where she currently lives with her husband and two children.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Antonia’s work, so it was a pleasure to finally have her join me on the podcast. Just as her work covers a broad range of topics, so does this conversation-- we discuss everything from Russian history to her Montana ancestors to her long-standing commitment to the craft of writing. We talk about why she has chosen to not participate in social media, and how she manages to consume online news and media without becoming overwhelmed. We talk a lot about her writing process, her thoughts on publishing her work, and her approach to exploring and writing about potentially controversial ideas. We obviously talk about her book “A Walking Life,” as well as how the act of walking can contribute to strong communities, mental health, and physical well-being. And finally, Antonia is known for her excellent book recommendations, and she offers up some great ones-- be sure to check the episode notes for links to all the books and authors she mentions.
I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation and can’t thank Antonia enough for all of her hard work. Hope you enjoy.
- Antonia Malchik
- On The Commons
- "A Walking Life" by Antonia Malchik
- Full episode notes with links: https://mountainandprairie.com/antonia-malchik/
- 5:00 – Antonia explains why she was left on the streets of Moscow and told not to get lost.
- 8:45 – Antonia reflects on moving to a completely different culture during a time when international relations were tense.
- 14:15 – Antonia recommends resources for understanding Russian history.
- 18:15 – Antonia reflects on the Montana side of her family and on the idea of pioneering.
- 23:00 – Antonia explains how and why she chooses to write.
- 27:45 – Antonia explores how she puts potentially controversial ideas out into the digital commons as well as explains when she decides to engage with people who disagree with her and comment on her writing.
- 31:30 – Despite anxiety regarding putting her work out for public viewership, Antonia reflects on why she still writes.
- 35:30 – Antonia and Ed discuss creating for the sake of continuing to create and the merits of not waiting for permission to create.
- 43:15 – Antonia explains, as a curious person, how she controls the constant influx of information that can occur through social and informational media.
- 49:00 – Antonia discusses her book, A Walking Life.
- 55:15 – Antonia talks about walking as it relates to mental health.
- 1:07:45 – Antonia’s favorite books about the West.
- 1:15:30 – Antonia’s parting words of wisdom.
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