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67 minutes | 19 hours ago
Ep 371: Christopher Gonzalez
We welcome special guest Christopher Gonzalez (I'm Not Hungry But I Could Eat) to discuss a novel that taught him a lot about flash fiction. Also discussed: the Netflix show Marriage or Mortgage, why flash fiction isn't just about word count, and how to title your novel to give critics an easy talking point. If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, you can join our Patreon and get regular bonus episodes: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
101 minutes | 15 days ago
Ep 370: Segment-a-palooza!
In celebration of the nine-year anniversary of our podcast, we're bringing back some of our favorite segments from the show's history! We also discuss some exciting changes coming down the pike. If you like the show, and would like more of it in your life, check out our Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
76 minutes | 22 days ago
Ep 369: 1968 Best & Worst, Snubs and Flubs
This week we're wrapping up our Winter of Wayback season by reviewing what we've learned. Which stories and essays did we love? Which pieces did we hate? What did we learn about 1968, and how did it compare to our previous presuppositions? Also, as a special bonus, Tom reviews a famous 1968 movie he'd never seen before, and Mike eats a Big Mac. If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
67 minutes | a month ago
Ep 368: Bernard Malamud (Winter of Wayback)
This week we continue our exploration of 1968 by checking out a Bernard Malamud story, "Man in the Drawer," which won the O'Henry prize that year. Also: what were hippies up to in 1968? We take a deep dive into newspaper archives to learn how that term was being used, and what it could tell us about the state of the counterculture (and the attitudes of squares). If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, for $5/month you can subscribe to our Patreon and get bonus episodes (plus support the work we do): https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
72 minutes | a month ago
Ep 367: Best American Short Stories, 1969
This week we continue our Winter of Wayback season by checking out a couple stories from the 1969 Best American Short Stories anthology (featuring stories published in 1968). We intentionally chose authors we didn't know anything about, though it turns out both writers went on to fairly celebrated careers, albeit in different genres. Norma Klein became a beloved YA author, often compared to Judy Blume, though she died at the tragically young age of 50. Jack Cady, meanwhile, won numerous awards for his horror and sci fi novels and spent a couple decades teaching in the Pacific Northwest. Also this week: Poetry gets political in the late 60s, in a way that feels very similar to today. If you like our podcast, and would like access to our regular bonus episodes, subscribe to our Patreon for $5: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
57 minutes | a month ago
Ep366: Burroughs at the 1968 Democratic National Convention
This week we continue our Winter of Wayback season by reading a dispatch about the 1968 Democratic National Convention written for Esquire by William S. Burroughs. The convention itself was famously contentious, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was criticized for allegedly allowing the cops to run roughshod over protesters outside the convention hall. Burroughs, meanwhile, brings to the party a politics we'd describe as "confusing." Also this week: The poetry of 1968 presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy. And the return of Raccoon News! If you like our show, and would like more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 and get access to a whole wealth of bonus episodes, including our latest series, The Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
66 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep 365: Early Alice Munro (Winter of Wayback, 1968)
This week, we're continuing our Winter of Wayback trip to 1968 by reading a story, "Boys and Girls," from Alice Munro's first story collection. We revisit arguments about Munro's stories from our grad school years, and consider the unique structure of her stories, which often rely less on plot trajectory than on a kind of synthesis, looking at a character's life from a variety of angles. Plus: a new game, Munro or No! You can read the story here: http://www.giuliotortello.it/shortstories/boys_and_girls.pdf If you like the show, you can subscribe to our Patreon for just $5 and get access to our entire vault of bonus episodes: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
100 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep 364: 1960s Misogyny w/ Lyz Lenz
This week we're continuing our Winter of Wayback season, in which we've been reading books, stories and essays from 1968, a year that parallels our current moment in a number of ways. Writer Lyz Lenz (God Land, Belabored) joins us to discuss a writer she admires from that era: Ellen Willis, who began her career as a music journalist but did some of her most important work on misogyny within the progressive movement. Also discussed: internet hate, why men love The Maltese Falcon, and the harassment Lyz has gotten in the wake of her recent profile of famous tweet thread guy Seth Abramson. You can read Lyz's profile of Abramson here: https://www.cjr.org/special_report/seth-abramson-twitter.php You can learn more about Lyz, read more of her writing, and subscribe to her Substack here: https://lyzlenz.com/ If you like our podcast, and would like more of it in your life, subscribe to our Patreon for regular bonus episodes: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
58 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep 363: Winter of Wayback (1968), The South Carolina Review
This week we're continuing our trip through 1968 by checking out the very first issue of a literary journal that still exists, and has published lots of famous writers: The South Carolina Review. The debut issue includes an essay on race relations in South Carolina, by an esteemed journalist, as well as a short story by Max Steele, who had one of the best names in the literary game. Also this week: 1968 was a big year for children's lit and YA. The National Book Awards started a category for children's lit, and publishers began to invest in books that offered more realistic portraits of teen life. If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which so far has included Ethan Frome, The Christmas Shoes, and Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.
64 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep 362: Winter of Wayback (1968), N. Scott Momaday
This week we're discussing the debut novel by N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1968. The book had an interesting road to publication, and the prize seemed to take both the author and his publishing house by surprise. We look at how people were writing about the novel in 1968, and discover that--surprise, surprise--white people were kinda racist about Native American culture! Even in praising Momaday's book, they couldn't help but drag out lots of stereotypical tropes about American Indians. Also this week: critics worry (in 1968) that the memoir will kill the novel. If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which will net you regular bonus episodes, including our ongoing Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
65 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep360: Winter of Wayback (1968), Pauline Kael
This week we're discussing a famous Pauline Kael essay about the movie "Bonnie and Clyde," which The New Republic refused to run, and which then accidentally launched her long, storied career at The New Yorker. Kael argued that the movie, which had been panned by many critics, was more interesting than people were giving it credit for, and that the negative reviews actually said something about the current cultural moment. We also discuss the recent Harper's special section on "life after Trump," and what "the Trump novel" might look like. If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which so far has included Ethan Frome, The Christmas Shoes, and Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.
74 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep 360: Winter of Wayback, Elizabeth Hardwick on MLK
This week we're discussing a 1968 Elizabeth Hardwick essay about the Memphis funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. The piece attempts to take the measure of both black and white Memphis after MLK's assassination, and notes tensions within the Civil Rights movement that in certain ways echo arguments within progressive movements today. We also dive into some 1968 debates about whether fiction was up to the task of representing an increasingly fractured, absurdist reality. Plus: women's magazines pull back on publishing short stories, drying up an important market for writers. If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which so far has included Ethan Frome, The Christmas Shoes, and Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Elizabeth Hardwick on MLK: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1968/05/09/the-apotheosis-of-martin-luther-king/ Tobi Haslett (in Harper's) on Elizabeth Hardwick: https://harpers.org/archive/2017/12/the-cost-of-living/3/ Our Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
66 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep 359: Winter of Wayback, 1968, Ursula LeGuin
When Playboy Magazine accepted an Ursula LeGuin story in 1968, the editors had only one request for the young author: could they use the byline U.K. LeGuin, so Playboy's readers didn't know the story was written by a woman? This week we discuss the story, and the circumstances of its publication. Plus: what were creative writing grad programs like in 1968? We take a peek at the Iowa Writers Workshop, thanks to a lengthy feature story from The Chicago Tribune, which features beer bars, Kurt Vonnegut, and a woman who the author of the piece chooses to describe, unfortunately, as "stacked." If you like the show, check us out on Patreon, where $5 gets you lots of bonus content, including our ongoing Hunt for the Worst Book in the World: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
71 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep 358: Winter of Wayback, 1968, Tom Wolfe
Welcome to our Winter of Wayback season! This year we're diving into 1968, a year that, like our current moment, has often been described as an inflection point in American politics. What we'd like to know: What was the world of literature like that year? Please join us, over the next several weeks, as we try to find out. This week: Tom Wolfe on surfers, slackers, and the culture of parentally-funded hippies.
62 minutes | 4 months ago
Unlocked: Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time #1, Ethan Frome
Happy New Year, book friends! We're giving you access to this bonus episode from November, which kicked off our new series: The Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time. For the first edition we re-read Ethan Frome, a novel that is still being foisted upon America's high school students, for some reason. If you like this episode, and would like to hear future editions of The Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, you can subscribe to our Patreon for just $5 a month. That also helps to support the show more generally, as we continue to bring you free weekly episodes. Subscribe here: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight Thanks for listening! And we hope 2021 has been good to you so far.
69 minutes | 4 months ago
Ep 357: 2020 Holiday Spectacular!
It's the most wonderful time of the year: when we break out the eggnog and suffer through a terrible Christmas-themed book so we can goof on it. This year's selection is Swamp Santa, book 16 in Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune mystery series. We try to make sense of a rather convoluted plot, debate the relative merits of wacky parrots, and get lost in explanatory dialogue. Check out the website for the town of Sinful, Louisiana, which can fill in some backstory on this week's book: http://sinfullouisiana.com/ And if you like our podcast, and want more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
72 minutes | 4 months ago
Ep 356: The Monster of Gentrification
This week we welcome two special guests--Amanda Meadows and Geoffrey Golden of the Dirt Cheap podcast--to discuss one of their favorite recent graphic novels: BTTM FDRS, by Ezra Clayton Daniels and Ben Passmore. The book has been compared to Jordan Peele's film Get Out, and features a many-tentacled monster that inhabits an apartment building in a gentrifying Chicago neighborhood. Our guests help us do some panel analysis of the book, and we talk about the horror genre, and dividing line between effective allegory and allegories that feel heavy-handed. We also talk about their podcast, in which they are reading a very bizarre-sounding pulp novel called Murder in the Glass Room, about an L.A. private investigator who is very obsessed with furniture and elevators. You can check out their podcast, Dirt Cheap, here: https://www.neonhum.com/show-pages/dirt-cheap.html You can learn more about the book, BTTM FDRS, at the Fantagraphics site: https://www.fantagraphics.com/products/bttm-fdrs And if you like our podcast, and want more of it in your life, subscribe to our Patreon. $5 a month gets you access to all our bonus episodes, including our newly launched Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight Thanks for listening!
63 minutes | 4 months ago
Ep 355: The Long Shadow of DFW
David Foster Wallace famously considered the lobster. This week, we consider him! How has his writing--and his legacy--aged in the nearly twenty years since his most well-known essays were published? Also: how mean should creative writing teachers be about lousy (or lazy) student work? You can read Wallace's essay "Consider the Lobster" here: http://www.columbia.edu/~col8/lobsterarticle.pdf You can also join our Patreon--$5/month helps support the podcast and also gets you access to all our bonus episodes, including our recent investigation into whether Ethan Frome is a terrible novel that no one should ever have to read: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
62 minutes | 5 months ago
Ep 354: Therapy-Speak
This week, Mike picks an essay that exemplifies some of what he doesn't love in contemporary writing about mental health. Too often, there's a tendency to fall back on abstractions, cliches, and platitudes, rather than to do the (admittedly tough!) work of putting the reader inside the writer's actual, lived experience. In the second half of the show, we take one last dive into the NaNoWriMo forums to give our (semi-solicited?) advice to this year's crop of would-be novelists. If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider joining our Patreon! For $5/month, you'll get access to all our bonus episodes, past and future. Check it out here: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
70 minutes | 5 months ago
Ep 353: Strike-Thru
This week we're talking Wikipedia vandalism, essays that show their editing work, and creative nonfiction that borrows moves from academic writing. Plus, another deep dive into the NaNoWriMo forums to help out this year's crop of aspiring novelists. This week's reading is a David LeGault essay, "Revision and Collapse," which was first published in Fourth Genre. Though as always, you don't have to do the reading prior to listening to the episode. If you like the show, and would enjoy having a little more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, where $5/month gets you access to all our bonus episodes: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight
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