Book Fight

This week we're kicking off another Winter of Wayback season, but this year with a new wrinkle: instead of visiting randomly selected years each week, we've chosen a decade--the 1950s--and will spend the winter working through it one year at a time. What does that mean, in practice? Each week we'll read either a book, a story, or an essay we've selected from that year. We'll also talk about other literary and cultural goings-on from that year, to help put the selected reading into a broader context.

Some weeks the readings will be things you've likely heard of; other weeks they'll be deeper cuts. This first week (1950) we chose a popular story, J.D. Salinger's "For Esme ... With Love and Squalor." We also talked about McCarthyism and the Hollywood blacklist, new food innovations of 1950, and various other important goings-on from the year.

Direct download: Ep211_Winter_of_Wayback_1950.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we welcome special guest Dave K., whose novel—The Bong-Ripping Brides of Count Dragado</a>—you can order from Mason Jar Press. We talked to him about genre, black metal, H.P. Lovecraft, the Human Friendipede, and steampunk. We also talked about Victor LaValle's The Ballad of Black Tom, which was Dave's pick for the episode.

Direct download: Ep210_DaveK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Happy New Year's, Book Fight family! This week we're ringing in 2018 with a Charles Lamb essay, though as usual we spend most of the episode talking about other stuff: that "Cat Person" story in The New Yorker that was all the rage for a while there; the failed New Year's Eve parties of our youth; and a very earnest elevator podcast Mike has (inexplicably) listened to several episodes of lately. If you want to know what to do in the case of an elevator or escalator emergency, this is your week!

Direct download: Ep209_NewYearsSpecial2018.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

It's that time of year again, Book Fight family: time to throw a couple logs on the fire, pour yourself some eggnog, and listen to us make our way through another terrible Christmas-themed book. This time it's from the Thomas Kinkade collection. Did you know that the Painter of Light was also the Writer of Light? Or, more likely, that the Painter of Light had enough money lying around that he could pay some poor writer to bring his cheesy paintings to life?

The specific Kinkade book we read was the fifth novel in "his" Cape Light series, called A Christmas Promise. It basically follows the plot of the Michael J. Fox movie Doc Hollywood, but ... more Christian.

Also, we eat some weird holiday snacks that almost kill us.

Enjoy the holidays, friends!

Direct download: Ep208_2017ChristmasSpectacular.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Hey, here's another holiday-themed episode. We discuss a John Cheever story, "Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor." You can read it online, via The New Yorker, if you're into that kind of thing. Or just listen to us yammer for an hour. That's fun, too! We talk about all kinds of stuff. After listening to this week's episode, you may not be any smarter, but you will definitely be one hour older.

Merry Christmas!

Direct download: Ep207_Cheever_Christmas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

You may be asking yourself how this week's pick is a "holiday book," exactly. Fair question! But one which Mike explains, more or less, in the episode. It's also one of our only forays, thus far, into the horror genre, and we talk a little about what makes a horror book scary, plus what separates real psychological horror, as opposed to the sort of blood and gore that can almost read like slaptstick. Stephen King has said that this book is one of the best horror books of the late 20th century, which is pretty high praise! Will it live up to the hype?

Also this week: A new installment of Fan Fiction corner, involving a heartwarming coffee commercial from your childhood that may be ruined soon. Sorry!

Direct download: Ep206_Straub_GhostStory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're talking about this essay from Aeon, about spending your Thanksgiving in a cemetery with your family members (both living and dead). We talk about our expectations for essays, and whether the amorphousness of the term itself lumps together too many disparate kinds of pieces, with different kinds of aims.

In the second half of the show, we're back on our bullshit, with a new installment of Fan Fiction Corner (featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and one last dip into the NaNoWriMo forums, where we'll try to answer writers' most pressing narrative questions.

Thanks for listening!

If you like the show, please consider chipping in a few bucks to our Patreon. For $5 a month, you'll get access to a bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we unpack the world of romance novels.

Direct download: Ep205_KoreanThanksgiving.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

We've decided to dive into some holiday-related stories, essays and books to close out the year. First up is "The Women of This World," a short story by Ann Beattie that was first published in The New Yorker in November 2000. Mike read a lot of Ann Beattie stories when he was first taking creative-writing classes in college, and was interested in revisiting some of her work to see if he'd still connect with it in the same ways.

We also dive back into the NaNoWriMo forums to see what kinds of questions this year's crop of contestants has about novel writing.


Direct download: Ep204_Holidays2017_Beattie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're discussing our final novel of the Fall of Frauds, a book about two "authentic" bluesmen who turn out to be not quite what they seem. The music is real enough, but they've adopted the kinds of personas they assume their (mostly white) audiences want: uneducated, boozy, physically ailing black men from the deep south who speak in homespun slang, when they deign to speak at all. Don't Start Me Talkin' is Tom Willams' second book, published in 2014 by Curbside Splendor.

Also: It's November, which means it's NaNoWriMo, which means it's time for us to dive into the NaNoWriMo forums, where participants are looking for advice on everything from what to name their characters to how to depict the Wars of the Roses, but with talking rats.

Thanks for listening!

Direct download: Ep203_Fall17_Williams.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week's episode was recorded live at Temple University's Paley Library. We were joined by local writers Jason Rakulek and p.e. garcia for a discussion of literary community, balancing the work of writing with the need to make a living, and pieces of advice we would've given to our college-aged selves. The format for this episode is a bit different than usual, since we were trying to make the program as useful as possible for an audience of college creative-writing students. But we think there's plenty here that writers and editors of any age (and experience level) can enjoy, and learn from.

Direct download: Ep202_Live_TempleLibrary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST