Book Fight

Back in Episode 15, we talked about Sheila Heti's novel How Should a Person Be, which neither of us loved. This week we're giving Heti a second chance, reading a recent story of hers from The New Yorker. 

We talk about whether we were too quick to judge her book based on its marketing materials, and what it is we want from fiction. If certain types of novels feel stale, for instance, is the problem with the form itself, or just books that aren't doing enough within that form? Also: Mike shares some lessons learned from spending his summer reading novel manuscripts, and Tom shares some thoughts on snacks.

You can read the Heti story here, via the New Yorker. And for more, you can always visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep143_Summer16_Heti.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Tom picked this novel, the author's first (though he'd already published two story collections, the first of which made him the youngest-ever winner of a Whiting Award). Reading the book made Mike question why he's making this podcast in the first place. So: good times!

In the second half of the show, Mike puts Tom on the metaphorical couch to help him figure out why he keeps feeling pulled away from the book project he's supposed to be working on. 

It's a real angsty week in Book Fight World, listeners. Enjoy!

Direct download: Ep142_McManus_BitterMilk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Agatha Christie is one of the world's best-selling authors of all time, yet when we read her novel And Then There Were None earlier this year, we gave it mixed reviews. So we're giving Christie a second chance, digging into one of her most celebrated short stories, "Witness For the Prosecution" (which you can read for free via that link). 

Tom, in particular, seemed to dislike And Then There Were None, so will this story turn him? Or will Christie fall victim to our famously harsh two-strikes-you're-out rule?

In the second half of the show, we revisit some 90s bands that the internet thinks deserve a second chance, and we talk about another listener-submitted story of second chances. 

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep141_Summer16_AgathaChristie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Mike first read this book nearly a decade ago, and decided to revisit it after pulling it randomly from his shelf and reading the inscription inside, which he'd managed to forget. We talk about Bouillier's idea of a "report" as its own genre of literature, and books narrated by eccentric people trapped inside their own heads.

In the second half of the show we've got a quick bit of fanfiction, plus a potential fanfiction writing prompt, if any of our listeners are so inclined.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

And if you're interested in coming to Writer Camp in September, here's the place for more information.

Direct download: Ep140_Bouillier_Mystery_Guest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Back in 105, we were less than thrilled with Penelope Lively's novel Making It Up. This week we're giving her work a second chance by reading a couple short stories from her 1997 collection, The Five Thousand and One Nights. Will we fall in love? Or will Lively fall prey to the Book Fight "two strikes and you're out" rule?

Also this week: Another listener-submitted story of literary second chances, plus Mike has some advice on whether to give your ex a second chance. And Tom talks about the time he got broken up with via Fleetwood Mac lyrics.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep139_Summer16_Lively.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This week's book is Mosley's first Easy Rawlings novel, in which we're introduced to a war vet in 1948 Los Angeles. We talk about the qualities that make for a good detective novel, and why Rawlings has become such an enduring character. In the second half of the show: the return of Fan Fiction Corner, and boy is it a doozy.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep138_WalterMosley.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

A few years ago we read a John Barth story collection (On With the Story) that Mike enjoyed and Tom did not. So this week Mike's making Tom read one of Barth's most-loved short stories to see if he can turn him into a fan.

Also: We talk about other artists we took a while to warm up to, and listener-submitted stories of second chances.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep137_Summer16_Barth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

We read Rachel Kushner's National Book Award-nominated second novel and try to figure out what we think about it. Is it a great book? Is it an ok book with the scope and ambition and atmospherics of a great book? Is it ever, actually, possible to say, after reading a book for the first time?

We also talk about the gender-related flap this novel, and some of its criticism, briefly caused, and whether the Great American Novel is a gendered idea.

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep136_RachelKusher_Flamethrowers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Welcome to the first of our new summer series, in which we revisit work by authors who we've panned in the past. We read a Harlan Ellison essay last spring, and found it lacking, but perhaps we'll be swayed by one of Ellison's best-loved short stories.

Also discussed: How do you know when to give your own work a second chance, and when should you simply give up on a story/essay/book and move on to the next thing? 

Oh, and we also talk about cuckolding raccoons. If you're into that sort of thing.

For more: bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep135_Summer16_Ellison.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

We're joined by writer Sandra Newman (author of, most recently, The Country of Ice Cream Star) to discuss a much-revered and deeply weird sci fi novel by M. John Harrison. We talk to Newman about what she loves (and doesn't) about science fiction, a genre we've tended to be hard on in the past. Will this be the book to win us over?

 

We also talk to Sandra about her own work, her decision to write her most recent novel in a partly-invented dialect, how writers use Twitter, and all the usual jibber jabber.

 

For more, visit us online at bookfightpod.com

Direct download: Ep134_Harrison_Light.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT