Book Fight

This week is all about genre-bending. We talk about Jo Ann Beard's essay "Werner," which was included in the 2007 edition of Best American Nonfiction, edited by David Foster Wallace, and which makes use of fictional techniques to tell a story that is (more or less) true. We also talk about skorts, against which Mike has a long-standing grudge. 

Direct download: ShortsEp3-Beard_and_Skorts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

We welcome guest Leslie Jamson (The Empathy Exams) to discuss Michael W. Clune's memoir White Out: The Secret Life of Heroin. Clune was a PhD student in literature at John Hopkins in Baltimore and also a daily heroin user. We also talk about addiction memoirs more generally, Leslie's own forays into writing creative nonfiction, pie shakes, Iowa City, and Haley Joel Osment. 

You can preorder Issue 13 of Barrelhouse (the comedy issue) at the Barrelhouse website. You can learn more about us, and the show, at

Direct download: Ep_63-MichaelClune_WhiteOut.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Welcome back to the Summer of Shorts! This week we're talking about an Andre Dubus story, "The Fat Girl," which follows its protagonist, Louise, from childhood through marriage and pregnancy as she struggles with body image issues and her relationship with food. We're also talking about jorts, the much-maligned (and possibly misunderstood?) garment of choice for construction workers, heavy-metal fans and, more recently, hipsters with scissors.

Direct download: Shorts2-Dubus_and_Jorts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Our last donor pick of the year, this book by Peter Sotos is pretty disturbing. We talk about trigger warnings, both in general and in relation to this particular book, which delves into pedophilia, child pornography, and several real-life child abductions and murders. We discuss Sotos's career as a transgressive, button-pushing author, and debate the relative merits of this book. Is Sotos seeking to shine a critical eye on the psychology of pedophilia? Or is he just wallowing around in the filth?

We've also got our first official listener rebuttal: Joshua Isard, author of Conquistador of the Useless, took issue with our panning of Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question in Episode 58. So we gave him a forum to fight back. That happens at around the 30 minute mark, if you'd like to hear Josh but want to abstain from our possibly triggering discussion of Sotos.

Direct download: Ep62-PeterSotos_Mine.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Today we're kicking off the Summer of Shorts by talking about the Kate Braverman story "Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta" and also bermuda shorts. Is the story meant to be read literally or allegorically? What is the proper length for men's shorts? Is this one of the best American short stories of the twentieth century, as its inclusion in a Vintage anthology would suggest? Why did Tom stop wearing shorts entirely for several years? 

You can read the story (for free) at the link above. You can get a pair of bermudas wherever fine shorts are sold.

For more, visit us online at

Direct download: ShortsEp1__Braverman_and_Bermudas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT