Book Fight

It's the most wonderful time of the year! A time for gathering with family, drinking lots of egg nog, and reading some absurdly terrible Christmas-themed books. First up this year is Christmas Letters, a delightful little romp from Debbie Macomber about a woman who finds love in the last place she thought to look (her own apartment building). Then there's The Christmas Thief, co-written by the mother-daughter team of Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark, about a Bernie Madoff type who hides diamonds in a tree and the merry band of self-satisfied lottery winners who manage to bring him to justice.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

 

Direct download: Ep107_ChristmasSpectacular2015.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

In celebration of the holidays, this week we're talking about an Isaac Fitzgerald essay, originally published by Buzzfeed in 2013, about a Christmas trip in which he scaled Mount Kilimnjaro with his estranged family. In the second half of the show, we discuss a listener-submitted story of authorial spite, plus a new installment of Fan Fiction Corner in which we explore the Grinch's sexuality.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep106_IsaacFitzgerald.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Penelope Lively has written more than thirty books, and Tom picked this one, for some reason. The novel purports to explore the line between fiction and nonfiction, but it does so in a way neither of us found particularly interesting. We talk about what separates a "novel" from a purposeless series of writing exercises. 

In the second half of the show, we delve into the world of Christmas-themed fan fiction, with stories about the characters from Love, Actually, Law and Order: SVU and Veronica Mars.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep105_PenelopeLively.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're discussing the title story of Scottish writer Elspeth Davie's 1980 story collection. Though her story collections were well-reviewed, Davie is far from a household name. We talk about what separates literary writers who are remembered from those who aren't, and whether the writers themselves have any control over their own legacies. 

Also, as it's the end of National Novel Writing Month, we take one final dive into the NaNoWriMo forums, where we make a shocking discovery that might just blow the lid off one of the biggest writing-related conspiracies of all time. 

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep104_FunnyHats.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

A long episode about a short book: it's the Book Fight way! In the first half of the episode we try to figure out Adler's 1976 novel, which has been cited as a touchstone by many writers, including David Shields and David Foster Wallace. In the second half of the show we talk about Adler's famous takedown of movie critic Pauline Kael, and consider a recent case of an author stalking someone who gave his book a negative customer review. Plus we take another dive into the NaNoWriMo forums to see what the intrepid NaNo-ers are struggling with here at the midpoint of their month-long journey. 

For more, including a link to Adler's piece on Kael, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep103_Adler_Speedboat.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

For today's episode we read this essay from The Toast, about the author's trip to Jerusalem, her religious parents, and the rift in her family following her sister's sexual assault. 

We've also got more from the NaNoWriMo forums, plus hot takes on Baby Hitler!

For more, as always, you can visit us online at bookfightpod.com.  

Direct download: Ep102_LyzLenz_Absalom.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week's book is both a detective story and an academic satire. We talk about the genre conventions of noir novels, and some of the more frustrating and ridiculous aspects of academia. In the second half the show we've got a new installment of Raccoon News that includes some historical raccoon news, plus more questions from the NaNoWriMo forums.

For more, you can visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep101_JTHill_AcademyGothic.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we talk about a story by the crime writer Dennis Lehane (author of Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, and lots of other stuff). We also dip back into the NaNoWriMo forums to offer our advice on character names, bayou witch doctors, and whatever in the world a "Nano jar" is. 

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep100-Lehane_BeforeGwen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Everyone's been talking about Karl Ove Knausgaard's six-volume series of autobiographical novels, My Struggle. But we're reading the doorstop of a novel that won him acclaim in his home country before he turned his lens on his own life.

A Time for Everything is part historical novel, part Biblical reinterpretation, part faux-theological study of the long evolution of angels. It's a book that's pretty tough to pin down. But we'll try!

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com.   

Direct download: Ep99-Knausgaard_ATimeForEverything.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're hitting the road, recording while driving to the Barrelhouse-sponsored Conversations and Connections writers' conference in Pittsburgh. To make our conversation thematically appropriate we chose an essay by Paul Theroux called "Taking the Great American Roadtrip."

We talk about what separates interesting travel writing from boring travel writing, our varying tastes for long drives, and why central Pennsylvania is both a beautiful and frightening place. 

You can read Mike's piece about driving cross-country here. We're not saying it's better than Paul Theroux, but maybe it's better than Paul Theroux?

For more, as always, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep98-RoadTripPittsburgh.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

We discuss Jeff Sharlet's Instagram essay, created with the hashtag #Nightshift and later featured on Longreads (you can check it out here). We also talk more generally about the possibilities of using social media for storytelling. In the second half of the show we answer a listener question about cover letters and, in preparation for National Novel Writing Month, we visit the NaNoWriMo forums to see how we should be prepping for next month's fun. 

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep97-Instagram_Essay.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we've got a pair of guests, Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman, editors of Dirty Diamonds: An All-Girl Comics Anthology, and recent winners of a Philly Geek Award. They've chosen Emily Carroll's Through the Woods for us to read, and they try to teach us how to approach comic stories. We talk about the relationship between text and image, ambiguous endings and spooky stories.

In the second half of the show we talk to Claire and Kelly about their work with Dirty Diamonds, their own comics, crying at pop concerts and the enduring legacy of Weird Al.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com.  

Direct download: Ep96-Carroll_ThroughTheWoods.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week's reading is an essay about college binge drinking from a recent issue of Okey-Panky. We contemplate what an un-themed season of Book Fight might look like, plus Tom talks about his recent arguments with his publisher over the title of his book.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep95-Washuta-Consumption.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week's book was a donor pick, and man it sure was weird. Jelinek won the Nobel Prize just before this novel came out, though the award was not without controversy (one committee member actually resigned his post in protest). We try to make sense of the book's structure and prose, as well as its views on male sexuality. Then we talk about fan fiction for a while, since that's kind of our thing. 

For more, check us out online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep94-JelinekGreed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Summer is coming to an end, and so is our Summer of Love feature. Join us for one final lap in the pool as we discuss this second-person story about how you're a real creep who should maybe stop treating women like objects.

Also this week: hot takes on Kim Davis and the Duke freshman who won't read Fun Home because of boobies. 

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com.

Direct download: Summer6_Barthelme.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:01am EST

We welcome special guest Helen McClory this week, who traveled all the way from Scottland to make us discuss the new novel by Rachel B. Glaser, Paulina & Fran, about an art-school social circle revolving around a woman perhaps most charitably described as "difficult." McClory tells us why she loves problem characters, and books that explore relationships between women. She also talks about her school days in Scottland, her obsession with monsters--and with weird American food--and we ask her questions about her recent American tour in support of her book, On the Edges of Vision, from Queen's Ferry Press.

As always, you can find more, including links to things we talked about on the show, at our website, bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep93-Glaser-RachelFran.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week's story is one of Tom's favorites, which he teaches often as an antidote to his usual depressing fare. Though it's debatable whether D'Ambrosio's story of a man caring for his psychologically troubled son is really a happy one? We talk about whether "reading as a writer" ruins your understanding of what non-writers might want to read. We also talk about some of history's (and pop culture's) worst dads. And we take a question from a listener about whether the way a person falls in love changes over time.

For more, as always, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Summer5_Dambrosio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Duras wrote this short, 110-page novel late in her career, in 1984, claiming it was "purely autobiographical," which created a bit of a scandal in certain corners, since the plot revolves around an affair a 15-year-old girl carries on with a 27-year-old man in what was then French Indochina. 

We talk about the perhaps unconventional power dynamics of that romantic relationship, Duras's mother and brothers, who also feature heavily in the book, and short novels more generally. We also see if we can make heads or tails of some grad-school questions about this book, and Tom's got another installment of Raccoon News.

For more, as always, you can visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep92-Duras-TheLover.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we revisit a story about adultery from Lorrie Moore's debut story collection, Self-Help. We talk about Moore's strengths as a story writer, the relative ethics of adultery, and why we both use Moore's work in our classes. 

Also this week: we answer a question from a listener about their upcoming nuptials, and we learn about whether pets can, in fact, love their owners.

For more, as always, you can visit us online at bookfightpod.com.  

Direct download: Summer4_Moore.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Tom tries to get Mike to enjoy some science fiction, and Mike says: no, thank you. We discuss predictions of the future, annoying robots, 90s slang, and information overload. Also this week, a new edition of Fan Fiction Corner, featuring a very sexy story set in the Nintendo universe. 

For more, including links to things we talked about in the show, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep91-StephensonSnowCrash.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Ths week we're discussing the David Sedaris story, "I Like Guys," from his book Naked. You can listen to an audio recording of Sedaris reading the story here, via This American Life. We also talk about America's favorite TV couples, and how much bickering in a relationship is too much. Plus a new theme song, and advice for children!

For more, visit us online at bookfight.com

Direct download: Summer3_Sedaris.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

On this week's episode things get real: after reading Sarah Hepola's recent memoir we're prompted to discuss our own drinking habits, and whether we should be concerned about them.

We also talk about the book itself, which recounts Hepola's own arc of addiction and eventual recovery, focusing on her frequent blackouts, which often had her attempting to reconstruct an evening's potentially embarrassing events the next morning. Hepola also considers the gendered nature of addiction narratives, and how being a drinking woman might be different from being a drinking man.

For more, as always, you can visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep90-Hepola_Blackout.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're discussing George Saunders, generous humor vs mean-spirited humor, computer and online dating, and top wedding songs. Also, Tom talks about a lady he dated who isn't his wife! And Mike talks about whether love is or is not for the birds.

Direct download: Summer2_Saunders.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This 1990 book is something of a cult classic, one many people first read in their teenage years, though neither of us ever did. So we're reading it now, for the first time, and trying to figure out why it's so beloved by its many, many fans. We talk about the book's humor, and whether it's suitable for adults. We try to figure out whether it's a satire and, if so, what exactly it's satirizing. We probably alienate some of our fans. Oh, and we s**t on Goonies a little, too, just for good measure.

For more, including a link to send us hate-mail, check us out online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep_89-Gaiman_and_Pratchett.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're kicking off our new seasonal feature, the Summer of Love, with what is supposedly the first story with gay characters to appear in the New Yorker (in 1974). The story was also the first story publication for Allan Gurganus, who is perhaps best known as the author of the novel Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.

We talk about the story's interesting point-of-view shifts, and how it handles a difficult father-son relationship. In light of the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, we also talk about the rather seismic shifts that have occurred in our lifetimes on issues of gay rights and gay acceptance. Also, we test our podcast-partner relationship by taking a quiz penned by Dr. Phil.

For more, check us out online at bookfightpod.com. Thanks for listening!

Direct download: Summer1-Gurganus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

We welcome guest Asali Solomon, author of the new novel Disgruntled, to talk about Marlon James's 2009 The Book of Night Women. James's novel is about a Jamaican sugar plantation around the turn of the 18th century, and the lives of its enslaved people, particularly Lilith, a young woman who is sent to work in the slavemaster's house after fending off a would-be rapist. Solomon talks about why the novel stands out among neo-slave narratives, and why she considers it "a bad-ass book."

We also talk to Solomon about growing up in, and later returning to, West Philadelphia, and how her home city changed in her absence. 

For more, including links to a lot of what we discussed this week, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Once again this week we're sponsored by 21st Century Prose, a new press housed at the University of Michigan that's already released four books, including Matthew Derby's Full Metal Jahcket, and Lauren Foss Goodman's A Heart Beating Hard. Use the code "bookfight" at checkout to get 30% off any order.

Direct download: Ep88-James-NightWomen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Our final installment in the Spring of Spite, and we've got a story that is spiteful in two ways. The story's narrator is almost certainly motivated by spite, and it would seem that Poe himself was drawing on some spiteful feelings when writing it. 

Also this week: Bobby Flay's spiteful divorce, Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski, and why aren't there better contemporary lit feuds? 

For more, including links to this week's story, and other things we talked about, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Our sponsor this week is 21st Century Prose. Check out their site, where you can read all their books for free electronically, or order paperback/hardback copies to be delivered. They're doing some really exciting, genre-bursting stuff over there, so don't miss out!

Direct download: Spring6_Poe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Paul Beatty's latest book, The Sellout, has been getting great press, described as a game-changing satire on race in America. We talk about whether the novel lives up to that high praise, and debate how to categorize its humor. We also talk about the audience for satire, and whether satire can truly change a person's perspective.

In the second half of the show we've got another installment of Fan Fiction Corner, in which Mike shares some sexy fanfic he found about President Obama's intimate life.

This week's episode is sponsored by 21st Century Prose, a new book series featuring open-sourced books that challenge traditional genre lines. If you do choose to buy any of their books, in paperback or hardback, use the promo code 'bookfight' for a 30% discount.

For more, as always, you can visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep87-Beatty-Sellout.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week's spiteful story is "A Poetics for Bullies," which Stanley Elkin has described as the best story he ever wrote. In it, Push the Bully comes up against his greatest challenge: a new kid beloved by his classmates and seemingly impervious to Push's efforts to take him down a peg.

We've also got stories this week about Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, two grown men who did not particularly care for each other!

For more, including links to some of the feud-related stuff we talked about on the show, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Spring5_Elkin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week's discussion centers on a genre-bending book by Maggie Nelson, an unconventional memoir and a treatise on perception, pain, love and loss, and the color blue. Bluets came out in 2009 and has become a real touchstone for some writers of both creative nonfiction and poetry. 

We also talk about Tom's recent trip to Italy, his hatred of Romans, and Mike's growing hatred of online user reviews. 

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com.

Direct download: Ep86-Nelson-Bluets.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're reading an essay by Harlan Ellison called "The Three Most Important Things in Life," which was suggested to us by a listener who said we couldn't talk about spite without talking about Ellison. We talk about whether we buy the essay's details, whether Ellison is self-aware as a narrator, and whether it's a good or bad idea to tell dirty jokes on your first day at a new job. We also discuss some of Ellison's own spiteful behavior, and his super-janky website

Plus: another author feud, this one between Nabokov and Edmund Wilson, and a couple stories of companies that exist only because of spite.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Spring4_Ellison.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week is another donor pick, Donald Antrim's first novel, which presents a kind of dystopic view of an American suburb, one where people build moats around their houses and a town mayor is drawn and quartered. We talk about the limits of irony, and whether this book, published in the mid-90s, should be considered prescient.

We've also got another installment of Fan Fiction Corner, this one featuring a couple surprising pairings. 

For more, as always, you can visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep85-Antrim_ElectMrRobinson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

For this installment of the Spring of Spite we read a few selections from Bernhard's collection MY PRIZES, which includes essays about his experiences with prize ceremonies and some speeches he delivered at those ceremonies. There's plenty of Bernhardian spite to go around: for other writers, for his home country of Austria, for the idea of literary prizes in the first place.

We've also got stories this week about some neighbors who took their spite to the next level, as well as another literary feud, this one between Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis.

For more, visit our website at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Spring3_Bernhard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're reading (part of) this famous work of natural history from the early 19th century. Alexander von Humboldt traveled extensively in Latin America and recorded all sorts of stuff: geology, plant life, animal life, interactions with the natives, water temperatures, and speculation abou tcontinental drift. The book, a donor pick from our winter fundraising, is sort of a departure from our normal reading, but we're always happy to try new things outside our normal comfort zones.

Also this week, another installment of Raccoon News, including a dispatch from our neighbors to the north, and a new segment: James Patterson Novel Or Eric Stoltz Movie From the 90s?

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep84-VonHumboldt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Week two in our Spring of Spite, and we're reading a delightfully odd Flannery O'Connor story called "Enoch and the Gorilla," about a man who is very excited to insult a famous ape. Though things don't turn out how he planned!

We also talk about spiteful wills and obituaries, spiteful paleontologists who basically made careers out of hating each other, and the long-running feud between H.G. Wells and Henry James.

Note: This version of the episode fixes an audio issue around minute 46 in the previously published file.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Spring2015_Ep2_fixed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:52am EST

This week's book is an unconventional memoir: in 300 short, numbered sections, Waldie investigates the origins of his hometown, a suburb outside of Los Angeles considered the Levittown of Southern California, as well as his own life there and the lives of his parents. We talk about the book's unusual construction, and how it creates connections and meaning through surprising juxtapositions. Also this week: the triumphant return of Fan Fiction Corner!

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com.

Direct download: Ep83-Waldie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Welcome to your first installment in the Spring of Spite! This week we're reading a Richard Yates story, "Oh Joseph, I'm So Tired," which paints a pretty rough portrait of the author's mother and her failed attempts at artistic (and social) relevance. We also talk about the science of spite, and the phenomeon of "spite houses" and "spite fences." Finally, Tom gives Mike a spite-related quiz, though several of the questions are obviously flawed and not accurate measures of actual spitefulness, which is just objective fact rather than a reflection of which of us writes these weekly episode descriptions. Enjoy!

For more, including a link to several of the things we talked about in today's episode, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Spring2015_Ep1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week is a Tom pick, by a writer who is Mexico's greatest novelist, if the blurb on the front cover is true. The novel--Herrera's only, so far, to be translated into English--follows a young woman named Makina as she crosses the border into the United States in search of her brother. We talk about the book's attempt to thread the needle between realism and fabulism, as well as one of its translator's more difficult decisions.

In the second half of the show, we've got a long-awaited update on Cousin Joey, as well as a new segment called Cargo Sweatpants Watch, in which Mike tries to triangulate what it means, culturally, that Tom owns a pair of cargo sweatpants. 

You can check out Herrera's book from Powell's, by clicking this link.

And as always, you can learn more about the show, and see links to some of the stuff we talked about this week, by visiting us at our website, bookfightpod.com.

Direct download: Ep82-Herrera.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

It's our last Winter of Wayback episode before we have to finally admit that spring has sprung. This week we're traveling to 1916, where we read a P.G. Wodehouse story ("Jeeves Takes Charge"). We also talk about art manifestos, and speculate about why there aren't any these days. Other topics covered include: elephant executions, the most lopsided college football game of all time, terrorist acts, taxes, and the early years of Piggly Wiggly.

You can read the Wodehouse story at this link: "Jeeves Takes Charge." And you can learn more about the show, and get links to some of what we talked about in today's episode, at our website, bookfightpod.com

Direct download: WinterEp7_1916.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week's book is an addiction and recovery memoir by celebrated journalist David Carr, who recently lost a battle with cancer (after surviving lymphoma, as detailed in the book). Carr takes an unusual vector through his own drug-fueled past, employing the skills he learned as a journalist to interview friends, family, colleagues and lovers, in an attempt to piece together an account of his own life more objective than what he could glean from memory alone.

In the second half of the show, we dip into the ol' mailbag. We've got a question about submitting your work for publication, and one about the recent Harper Lee news. Plus a listener calls us out on our anti-Meatloaf bias.

For more, including links to things we talked about on the show, and your chance to nominate a book for an upcoming bonus episode, visit us online at bookfightpod.com.

Direct download: Ep81_Carr_NightOfTheGun.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

A bit of a reading detour this week as we take up two stories from pulp writer Robert E. Howard, who invented both Conan the Barbarian and Sailor Steve Costigan, the sailor who loved to fight. We also talk about the origins of both Goofy and Betty Boop, Australia's "emu war," and Olympian/professional golfer Babe Didrikson. Everything you ever wanted to know about 1932!

For more, including video clips of cartoons and other stuff we talked about, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: WinterEp6-1932.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

We're joined this week by Dave Housley (author of the new story collection If I Knew The Way, I Would Take You Home) to discuss Nathan Rabin's 2013 book investigating the cult followings of both Phish and Insane Clown Posse. The book tracks Rabin's experiences at several Phish shows and the annual Gathering of the Juggalos, as well as his near-breakdown during what sounds like a pretty rough year.

We also talk about Dave's obsession with aliens, and his Twitter friendship with several members of the alien network MUFON. Plus: a new segment called "Things Mike Found in Tom's House."

Direct download: Ep80_Rabin_YouDontKnowMe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're traveling back to 1944, reading a Raymond Chandler essay about what makes a good story, and talking about various events not related to D-Day, because we're pretty sure that's been covered at this point. Instead we'll tell you about the origins of the Chiquita Banana song, a racially motivated labor strike in Philadelphia, Paul McCartney's lesser-known musician brother, and Miss America 1944's later career as a finger-wagger and gun owner. For more, including links to some of the things we talked about in the episode, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: WinterEp5_1944.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're reading the breakout 2001 book by French writer Emmanuel Carrere, a true-crime story about a man who killed his wife, children, and parents after living a life of, as the book's subtitle has it, "monstrous deception." We talk about the line between drama and sensationalism, and speculate about what goes on in the heads of pathological liars. In the second half of the show we talk about a Paris Review interview with Carrere in which he talks about why In Cold Blood is a fundamentally dishonest and "morally hideous" book.

For more, including links to things we talked about in this episode, visit us online at bookfightpod.com.

 

Direct download: Ep79_Carrere_TheAdversary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we've set the Wayback Machine to 1894: We're reading a Kate Chopin story and talking about phonographs, anarchists, and shooting your guns into the air as if you didn't particularly care (about gun safety).

For more, including links to some of what we talked about in the episode (including this week's story) visit us online at bookfightpod.com

We're also still fundraising! So check out our Indiegogo page and give us some of your hard-earned money.

Direct download: WinterEp4_1894.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're reading a 1934 cult classic (subtitled "An Experiment in Biography") that sees its author on the hunt for information about one Baron Corvo, also known as Frederick Rolfe, writer of several novels and maker of many enemies. Symons, after reading, and loving, Corvo's Hadrian the Seventh, set out to learn as much as she could about the mysterious author. And his efforts were rewarded, with a pretty crazy story of genius, spitefulness and lots and lots of burned bridges.

We're still running our annual fund drive: you can contribute, via Indiegogo, here. And for more about the show, including links to things we talked about in this episode, visit our website at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep78_Symons_QuestForCorvo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

This week we're talking about Kay Boyle's story "Defeat," an O'Henry winner from 1941. We also talk about a number of interesting things that happened in 1941, including: alien sightings, the time-traveling hipster, the first televised Mummers parade, the "state" of Jefferson's attempt to secede from Oregon, and the longest-ever coma. 

For more, including links to what we talked about on the show, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Also: We're still running our annual fundraiser. You can donate--and get rewards--here, on our Indiegogo page

Direct download: WinterEp3_1941.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

We're back with another book episode, this one about the 1982 National Book Award winner for best debut novel. We talk about "quiet" novels, prickly female protagonists, portrayals of parental anxiety, and the relativity of literary celebrity. We've also got blurbs for a couple more donors to our annual fund drive, which you can contribute to here, if you're so inclined.

You can read more, and get links to all the stuff we talked about this week, at our website

Direct download: Ep77_Dew_SophieDale.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Astute listeners might note that we're supposed to have a book episode this week. Unfortunately, we lost that episode in a technical snafu. Fortunately, we already had the next Winter of Wayback episode ready to go! This week we're reading a story from 1982, the year of Tom's birth. The story, "Dancing Ducks and Talking Anus," appeared in the 1982 Best American Short Stories anthology, selected by John Gardner, but its author, James Ferry, was basically never heard from again. Until a fan of his tracked down his brother, and then shared the story with us.

We're also talking about the Commodore 64, the 1982 World's Fair, the Tylenol murders, and "Lawnchair Larry," whose ultimately tragic life makes Mike get a little choked up at the end of the episode.

If you want to donate to our fundraising effort, here's the link to our Indiegogo page, including details of this year's donor giveaways.

We've also got lots of bonus material on our website this week, bookfightpod.com, including a video of Philly dudes circa 1982, news coverage of "Lawnchair Larry," and links to all sorts of other stuff. 

Direct download: WinterEp2_1982.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

We're kicking off our next seasonal series, the Winter of Wayback, in which we'll read a prize story or essay from a given year and talk about that year's pop culture--movies, music, books, weird news, whatever might help provide some context for the story (or just entertain our listeners, and ourselves). This week we're traveling back to 1977, the year of Mike's birth, to read a story by Ella Leffland called "Last Courtesies" (winner of the 1977 O'Henry Award). 

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: WinterEp1_1977.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

We're joined by guest Annie Liontas (Let Me Explain You) to discussJames Baldwin's 1974 novel, which is narrated by a young woman whose fiancee has been wrongfully accused of rape. We also talk about Annie's new book, her love for Asbury Park, and why teens named Chad may or may not like James Baldwin's work.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep_76-Baldwin_Beale_Street.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

1