Book Fight

This week we continue our "summer of selfies" with a book we knew we'd have to read as soon as we conceived of the season's concept. Nearly everyone in the literary world seems to have an opinion about Knausgaard's six-book autobiographical series, whether they've read any of the books or not. While lots of critics (and other authors) have praised him as a genius, all that praise has led to an inevitable backlash, with plenty of people saying the books are over-long and tedious. So where will your Book Fight co-hosts come down?

We'll also consider some of the gendered arguments made about the book: Does Knausgaard "write like a woman"? And would these books have been so highly praised if they'd been written BY a woman?

Finally, we've got another installment of Millennial M0m3nt, this week about a fast-casual eatery that doesn't care if its Millennial customers ever come back.

Thanks for listening! 

Direct download: Ep193_Summer17_Knausgaard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This week we're continuing our discussion of literary "selfies" with this novel by Gaute Heivoll, which is about a string of arsons in 1970s Norway, though it's also about the writer who is haunted by those fires, even years later, enough to write a book about them. Though it's categorized as a novel, it seems clear the book's main character is closely aligned with Heivoll himself.

In the second half of the show, we talk about the phenomenon of the Mary Sue in fan fiction, and in the larger world of pop culture. Is it a useful term to describe stories in which writers create characters who are too-perfect versions of themselves? Or is it merely cover for men to offer misogynistic critiques of female characters?

Plus, you know, a bunch of dumb nonsense for which we are both sorry and not at all sorry.

Thanks for listening!

Direct download: Ep192_Summer17_Heivoll.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This week we continue our discussion of literary "selfies" with a piece by Jennifer Lunden that appeared recently in Diagram, called "Evidence, in Track Changes". The piece includes an essay written by Lunden, plus margin notes added by her mother and Lunden herself.

We talk about what makes an experiment like this feel organic, rather than gimmicky, and what sorts of writing lessons that line might offer. Also, plenty of our usual foolishness, including some discussion of trends that (like selfies) might stick around and become more or less accepted, another installment of Millennial M0m3nt, and for some reason a digression into the relative merits of Three Musketeers and its #ThrowShine hashtag. What do you expect from us, high-minded literary talk?

Direct download: Ep191_Summer17_Lunden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This week we're discussing a recently published story from The New Yorker by Curtis Sittenfeld, author of a number of books, including Prep and An American Wife. In "Show Don't Tell," Sittenfeld turns her attentions to a fictionalized version of the Iowa Writers Workshop, and the anxious first-year students who are awaiting decisions on their funding for the next year. 

Since both of your Book Fight hosts are Workshop grads, we take a little stroll down memory lane and compare our own experiences with those of the story's characters. Though we also attempt to consider the story on its own merits, and we wonder whether it's one that people outside the writing world would find compelling. 

Also: another installment of Millennial M0m3nt. What American industry are the young people killing this week?

Direct download: Ep190_Summer17_Sittenfeld.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This week we're continuing our Summer of Selfies theme by discussing confessional essays, including one by Tom Chiarella, a long-time writer and editor for Esquire. In an essay called "My Education," he detailed the sexual abuse he experienced at the hand of a Catholic-school teacher, while also wrestling with his own ambivalence about the benefits of writing such an essay. Americans, Chiarella says, feel the need to talk about their traumas, but is that always necessary, or even desirable?

Direct download: Ep189_Summer17_Chiarella.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This week, as part of our "Summer of Selfies," we discuss the latest book from Pam Houston, a work of fiction that borrows heavily from the author's life and even names its protagonist Pam. We talk about the line between fiction and memoir, and some of the more interesting ways to blur that line. We also discuss some of the difficulties of autobiographical writing, like how to know when your own experiences will be interesting to others. In the second half of the show, we talk about James Frey, who was Houston's student, and how much literary license we're willing to give memoir writers.

Direct download: Ep188_Houston_ContentsShifted.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This week we're discussing Hunter S. Thompson's famous essay on the Kentucky Derby, which many people credit as the starting point for his gonzo style of journalism. Neither of us had read the piece before, and we realized that a lot of our impressions of Thompson were based on his legend, more so than on the work itself. Also this week: raccoon selfies, tourists who pay to take pictures with docile (and likely mistreated) tigers and elephants, and why there are so many car selfies on dating sites. 

Direct download: Ep187_Summer17_Thompson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

We're kicking off a new season for Book Fight, with a slight change in programming. This week marks the first episode of the Summer of Selfies, in which we'll be discussing some of the best--and worst--autobiographical writing.

Up first: an essay for The New Yorker by Jia Tolentino, in which she argues that the heyday of a particular kind of personal essay is over.

Direct download: Ep186_Summer17_Tolentino.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This is a free preview of our first Book Fight After Dark episode. The full version is available to monthly subscribers, via our Patreon page. For $5 a month, you'll get monthly bonus episodes like this one, plus the satisfaction of supporting a podcast you love (or at least like?). 

If you've already subscribed, there's no need to listen to this brief preview--just go enjoy the full episode over on Patreon. And we'll be back on Monday with another regular (free) episode.

Thanks for listening! And for supporting the show.

Direct download: BFAfterDark1_Teaser.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:30pm EDT

This week we seek to settle an age-old debate: do you read the foreward first, or wait until you've read the book? Also: Nazis, animal cruelty, impotence, and classic Czech literature.

Thanks for listening! 

Direct download: Ep185_Hrabal_Trains.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT