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Miette's Bedtime Story Podcast
34 minutes | Jul 24, 2016
A Little Cloud, by James Joyce
I know, I know, I’m late for Bloomsday, and at this point, I thought you’d have forgotten. My friends, why haven’t you forgotten? I mean, you surely know that the world is breaking the sound barrier with how fast it seems to be going to wherever this cozy handbasket might be taking it, wherever it is handbaskets go. But there you are, thinking about Bloomsday, and wondering to me where your podcast was. I was a little bit flattered, but mostly, this has sent me on a big personal trip round the block of introspection, which is in a really run-down part of town. I began recording these pieces in early 2005, when I was underemployed and uninspired and ensconced in a world that I thought was being carried faster than the speed of sound straight to a place of agnostic hell, &cet. I was young then, and thought that maybe instead of fighting back against an oppressive and terroristic government, we could instead insert earbuds and drown ourselves in literature, or something. I swear it sounded almost anarchistic at the time. And I can’t even repeat it today, because I’m old and it’s saccharine, but the sentiment is the same. If you need to plug your ears, have a podcast. Here’s some awfully apt Joyce.
32 minutes | Jun 16, 2015
Much love from my hidey-hole, where I spent the bedtime hours in recitation from the beginning of Ulysses in celebration of the hour at hand. But elas, my audience of one was sound asleep by mention of the snotgreen sea. My own sinus was breaking waves with the same, as it often is these days, but thanks to the magic of audio editing, it is my hope that the sinusital intonations aren’t noticed much. (If one of the many sharp and violent nasal aspirations or other gaggery have sneaked into this recording, please alert me privately? Please?) (Buy the Whiskey Tit book I’ve published, if you don’t mind.)
25 minutes | Jun 16, 2014
In my many years of Bloomsday readings, I’ve neglected to tell you about my first run-in with the text. It was more years ago than I’ll ever admit, when I had recently moved to New York, and had almost immediately found myself a nice new literary teenage boyfriend. We had only been dating a few weeks when he had given me a copy of Ulysses with the naughty bits highlighted (I later learnt that this was a hand-me-down from his brother, and he had never read much Joyce beyond Portrait, but if you’re a teenage boy looking to get laid, let me assure you that this will do it). I wanted to impress him, because that’s what you do to teenage boyfriends, so I took him to a staged reading of Dubliners at a bar with a pinhole-sized black-box theatre in the the back. This event didn’t come particularly recommended to me, but in was in the Village Voice, and on Avenue B, so I felt it would be sufficiently edgy enough. We arrived surprised to find a two-drink minimum required to attend. Now, we were neither seasoned nor legal drinkers, so we ordered four draft beers up front and downed them within a few minutes, to hide future evidence of any wrongdoing. Admittedly, the reading wasn’t so great as I recall– black turtlenecks, very somber, very serious, a deathly production. But two pints down amateur gullets coupled with the snoozer of a show worked its magic, and midway through Eveline (the fourth story in), my guy began snoring. I spent some time kicking him awake before succumbing myself, and the next thing that entered my consciousness was the polite applause of the audience as the show was wrapping. And while these years later I have better judgment for those who hope to become laid by me, and a more acclimated constitution for a few pints, I remain convinced that it was a shit performance, and not beyond my then-inchoate acumen. At least, we can hope.
13 minutes | Jan 15, 2014
Hello and would you just look at the calendar and where has the time gone? I would make excuses for the lapse in months or tell you what I’ve been up to, but that would be projecting, and if you want to know these things, I’m sure you’ll just ask. In any event, the theme of tonight’s story hits awfully close to home, so maybe if you listen you’ll understand a little more why I keep creeping back. A week or so ago, the delightful Joanna Walsh wrote a lovely screed about reading more women writers this year, to which I respond with an approving ROAR and attach herein what I hope is the first of many such in the months to come, in the name of the incomparable Elizabeth Bishop. Here’s more chatter about #readwomen2014. Read more women. And read more men, too, I think, and more people who don’t quite easily shoehorn into either classic gender. ps: Some background noise, yes. I’ve moved house, and recording space, again, which means I need to throw my equipment against the walls to get the acoustics just right.
26 minutes | Jun 16, 2013
A Painful Case
I’m sitting on what may be the most beautiful beach in the world, trying desperately to avoid dropping my computer into the chasms dug in the sand by last night’s hatching turtles, and trying even more desperately to explain to you why it’s been so long since I’ve flooded your Eustachians. But the beach is no place to explain these things, and Bloomsday’s no day for self-absorption. I’ll come back soon on something nominally resembling a schedule, but in the meantime, Happy Bloomsday and keep your ears clean.
12 minutes | Jan 9, 2013
In the Wells Tower profile of Barry Hannah I reference in the spoken introduction to today’s story (which you should treat yourself to), written before Hannah’s 2010 death, the following is offered: Hannah is not a writer to be read idly, with half a head or heart. His work thrives in his sentences, the best of which require a couple of readings to fully wring their satisfactions. The syntactic rigor and strange music of his fiction occasionally get him classified as a difficult or, less appropriately, a postmodern writer, and are probably why Oprah Winfrey hasn’t called him yet. It’s too bad Oprah didn’t jump at a chance to call him, I thought, then: it’s too bad I didn’t jump at the chance to write him a letter. Maybe it’s the sentiments of annus novus, or maybe it’s just the blade of edge needing sharpened. But, having recently driven through the parts of the country Hannah writes about, I can assert that “a lot of porches and banjos” wouldn’t be such a bad thing at all.
14 minutes | Nov 16, 2012
A few weeks ago, there was a hurricane that you might have read about (unless it blew a rock on top of you and you decided to live beneath it, in which case, my sympathies). During this hurricane, I was away on what was supposed to have been a Caribbean holiday of a few days, which turned into one of a few days plus a few days more plus a few bonus days. Not a bad way to ride out a storm, especially when one is stranded with a good book. Photographic evidence: I returned to find great areas of my city in all kinds of shambles, but I have every confidence that readers of these pages are already doing what they can to help, so I won’t indulge in (much) proselytising. Instead, I’ll swoonily admit that had I not been stranded on a Caribbean island with Familiar (BUY: AMZN, INDIEBOUND), I might’ve ended up parched with an atrophied and shriveled brain, wasted and prone to mirage. So you might say that we owe my health, and by extension this podcast, to that book. So to celebrate, here’s a short piece by the same author, originally published in print by Salt Hill.
71 minutes | Oct 3, 2012
While the Women are Sleeping
I’m sitting here desperately trying not to listen to the U.S. Presidential Debate that’s streaming into my earbuds, because the entire thing seems like such hot-twisted-metal train wreckage that the hairs on my neck get singed just listening to it. And I like my neck-hairs. And I know that the next month is going to be full of the same, so to spare your hairs, neck-and-other-wise, I’ve recorded a nice long one for you, replete with what I see (through admittedly hazy eyes) as thematic portents to what I’m listening to. Consider this my own personal bailout to you. You’re welcome.
28 minutes | Sep 8, 2012
Houses (Guest narrator: Patrick Scott)
When Patrick Scott has been known to bail me out of a slump in the past, he’s done so with his passel of Old Reliables: Raymond Carver. Flannery O’Connor. Russell Banks. The indisputably great, in other words. So when this time, he sent this recording of a piece by a speculative fiction writer I’d never heard of, my thoughts closed the loop to a circuit with “well, this ought to be interesting” on one end, and “Patrick’s lost his mind in the clamour of his visions of pretty knicker-clad girlies dancing seductively while dressed from the waist-up as sheep.” Patrick, you see, is to be trusted. And so I pressed an ear to the computer to discover a piece of fiction that might have been conceived when There Will Come Soft Rains had a few bourbons and squeezed the thigh of The Truth and All Its Ugly. That piece then grew up to have its own personality, of course, and is imbued with an innate charm that wells up through its apocalyptic bleakness in a way that shouldn’t even be possible. Hope you like it, and I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with my own set of pipes in just a couple of weeks. This should give you plenty of time to check out some of Mark Pantoja’s other writing, as well as Patrick Scott’s additional seductions on Zoochosis.
19 minutes | Jun 15, 2012
Clay, James Joyce
In some parts of the world, it’s Bloomsday already, and in yours, it may be at the end of a summery Friday work-day, so perhaps The Big Day will greet you just as you’re weeding through your feedreader with an icy drink by your side while you dip your legs in a pool full of barely-clad beauties, or something. But even if your drink of choice is presently milk, and the only thing you can actively do with the human form in its natural state at the moment is admire from an envious distance, happy listening and Happy Bloomsday. If you’re still catching up, here’s the Bloomsday collection to-date.
36 minutes | May 25, 2012
Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning
It’s been a while since I’ve last read, for reasons whose details I won’t serenade you with, but which have to do with huge, overwhelming, life-changing projects that ultimately will leave me with more time to do this more often (I’ll need a little luck, if you want to drop some in the mail), but which, at the moment, have me submerged and often feeling not unlike drowning (or what I imagine drowning is not-unlike. I’ve never actually drowned.) Then I received an email from Evan Munday at Toronto’s Coach House Books, asking if I had interest in reading from Heather Birrell’s latest collection. Let me assure you now that a response of “WOULD I‽” does not come across to full effect in email if not accompanied by a look of wide-eyed promise and a rare display of teeth (even with the interrobang). Some of you might remember my enthusiasm at reading Birrell’s Trouble at Pow Crash Creek (from I Know You Are But What Am I? a couple of years ago. I promise you that the new collection, Mad Hope, is, impossibly, even more beautifully wrought, more intellectually finely tuned, and more gut-wrenching. You’ll see what I mean when you listen. (Thanks Evan and Coach House for the book. Thanks Heather for the collection. Lest you think this is shilly, I was under no obligation whatsoever to read from the collection. Like most makers of book-derived things on the Internet, publishers send me books all the time, which I often read and sometimes like, but which are rarely suited for the little sanctum I’ve got here. Happy weekend!)
12 minutes | Mar 12, 2012
Breaking Camp (from Danvis Tales)
If, while listening to tonight’s story, you come to the dialogue and have no idea about what I am talking, you won’t be alone. I staggered across tonight’s author by way of the great Hayden Carruth, whose introduction to Rowland E. Robinson’s Danvis Tales ranks among the most incisive layer-peeling short pieces of literary commentary I’ve read. And I assure you I’ve read a few. He says of the dialogue: Robinson was an instinctive linguist; he understood the value of listening carefully and recording faithfully. And we may say as a matter of course that he applied the same care and fidelity to the larger aspects of his material, syntax, and speech rhythm… … the most telling elements of Robinson’s skill are the least demonstrable, his sensitivity to the syntax and rhythm of colloquial speech. Notice the interplay of long and short breath-units in these sentences, and the mixing of grammatical structures, clause and phrase, different verb moods, and so forth. Only a very complicated chart could reduce all these elements to a form of linguistic analysis, but they are what account for both the verisimilitude and the esthetic liveliness of this speech. The truth is that Robinson’s dialogue, which is the largest and most important part of the Danvis Tales, is invariably better writing than his descriptive and narrative passages in the standard overblown English of his day. So give it a chance, even if you have to suffer through my not entirely successful attempt at the colloquial speech of this time and place. “Folk tales” are not exactly my genre and narrative style of choice, but reading through these has been a welcome reminder of why I should slap myself on the hand with a ruler when I pigeonhole myself this way. And I’d slap you just the same; I care that much.
11 minutes | Jan 31, 2012
The Night of the Ugly Ones
Sometimes a story catches you by title alone. I have a real soft spot, personally, for “The Night of the” stories, no matter the medium. Hunters, Iguanas, Living Dead, even Comets (to a lesser degree)… all of these things weaken my articulated joints. Tonight’s story is no different in that regard, but all kinds of different if those Night stories are your precedents. And if a great story isn’t enough to kick you in your more callipygian regions and get you to work, according to his NYTimes obit, Mario Benedetti is responsible for more than 80 books. If you move now, maybe you can catch up. Maybe I should stop soliloquising and give you your story already. Here’s Mario Benedetti. Oh, wait, I’m not done. Over at Iambik, we’re giving away audiobooks this week. You should enter to pick up my most recent if you haven’t already, as I’ve got a couple of new ones in the works. Also, because tonight’s is a short story, and won’t nearly keep you cozy. And now, really, Mario Benedetti.
14 minutes | Jan 12, 2012
Illusion by Jean Rhys (Redux)
Sometimes it just kills me how many stories I’ve read here. A lot, that’s how many. And as much as I’m endeared to those earlier lo-fi bootleggy recordings, there are some stories which just aren’t served by the lack of quality, and some stories that, after this many years, should be read again anyway. So, here’s a bonus for you, thanks to Mel U of The Reading Life, and one of the internet’s most enthusiastic readers of Jean Rhys. In related news, this article about Global Warming affecting the intelligence of reptiles has been floating around the internettish circles. A scary thought, to some, but I take great pleasure in the thought that someday salamanders may fit themselves with earbuds and join our clan of the literarily satisfied. Now, about Jean Rhys…
25 minutes | Dec 15, 2011
You’ll have to excuse the fact that this sounds somewhat as if it might have been recorded in a submarine in the icy waters beneath an alien planet; I haven’t been around for a while, and my audio equipment was dusty and had been playing bingo in a church basement, so it was a little creaky when I roused it from its folding chair. But I didn’t want to leave you without at least a shimmer of holiday leer, and think this does the job nicely. I’ve got more guests to post but will be back on the regular beat in January. Meantime, happiest of all of that. Now, have a story…
29 minutes | Nov 11, 2011
The Young Workman’s Letter (Guest narrator: Chris King)
Usually, when I think about this humble little project, it fills me with all kinds of amourpropre. Even when I’m temporarily removed from my own devices (audiotorily speaking), I can’t help but self-congratulatorily pat myself backwise (I’m flexible) at keeping the motor of this anthology running. Then sometimes I’m introduced to other projects that leave me licking the dust of underachievement. Tonight’s narrator is behind one such project. You should have a listen to Poetry Scores, and share in the dust-licking awe of it. And as a bonus to all of us, Chris King, the genius responsible, is a Rilke enthusiast of the very best sort. It’s our lucky day. Visit Poetry Scores and Confluence City and don’t forget to thank Chris for the story. I’ll be back very soon now, honest.
26 minutes | Oct 27, 2011
I Am Awake (Guest narrator: Philip Shelley)
Tonight’s guest narrator owns and operates The Devastationalist Manifesto, a project I desperately wish would soon revive itself from its two-year hiatus, and not just because I miss the occasional chance for self-gam-gawkery. The project is one of genius, sometimes seemingly singlehandedly keeping the internet’s signal-to-noise ratio from flatlining, and maybe if you help me to strongarm him (GENTLY), he’ll rouse it from its vanWinklery nap. Reflecting on his interpretation of Alice McDermott, I realise that perhaps I haven’t given her a fair shake, and that should change. This is heartwrenchingly rendered beauty, which, given our narrator, shouldn’t surprise anybody. I’ll be back in my own voice very soon now, and still have a few guests to post. If you told me you’d read for me and you haven’t, I am probably very disappointed in you, although I just might understand all the same.
29 minutes | Oct 14, 2011
The Man Who Lost the Sea (Guest narrator: Shig Vigintitres)
Sturgeon’s a presence which should have been established here long ago, and I was grateful beyond expression when tonight’s guest reader volunteered to represent him. That said, I was only told there was “this Theodore Sturgeon story I’ve always wanted to read.” So, when I was sent a story that I didn’t know, I was allowed to sit back and listen and discover and marvel, as you should. If you really want my experience, be on your third glass of wine before you listen. It’s worth tomorrow’s headache.
17 minutes | Oct 7, 2011
Enoch and the Gorilla (Guest Reader: Patrick Scott)
Some of you may remember the sweet sounds of Patrick Scott from earlier Miette Bailouts. When I put out the call for guest readers, he was quick to the case. But Patrick’s a busy guy, now that he’s a famous filmmaker, and so when you listen to his lustrous interpretation of Flannery O’Connor, you will pick up the occasional whirr of what seems a loud computer fan. I’m here to tell you resolutely not to mind this, not to let it interfere with the almost toxic pleasure you might receive from a Patrick/Flannery one-two-punch. If anything, think of it not as a probably loud computer fan, but rather, as a Flannery O’Connor story as broadcast from the other side of the buckle of the asteroid belt. The next two weeks will be just full of guests, and if you’ve offered a story and haven’t delivered, I will remember this when your birthday rolls around. There’s still time to redeem yourself. You know who you are.
13 minutes | Sep 20, 2011
Frau Wilke (Guest narrator: Sam Jones)
If you know Sam Jones from various internet outlets, you will be neither surprised nor disappointed that he chose to read Walser for his guest stint here. However, if you know Sam Jones from various internet outlets alone, you might not know that his is not unlike the disembodied voice in your head that reads you to sleep, all silky and warm and just sensual enough to make you comfortable, though not quite enough to make your lover jealous. Or maybe I’m confusing you with me, which happens with pronouns. So, it’s time to drop some buds into your head’s sound detection holes and try not to smile sheepishly when he whispers “… for I do like a certain degree of raggedness and neglect.” And then look up to see if anyone catches you mid-blush. Make no excuses, but barrel down and enjoy the rest. I expect you’ll get as much out of Sam’s interpretation of Frau Wilke as I have. For more, keep your eye on Wandering with Robert Walser I’m featuring guest readers for the next month or two, and am in search of more guest narrators, although admittedly the bar’s being set high. If you’d like to have a try at reading for the podcast, email me.
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