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Summer of Shorts Episode 5: Gaitskill and Gym Shorts

This week we’re discussing a Mary Gaitskill short story, “The Girl on the Plane,” and also gym shorts. What more could you need to know?

Okay, fine. The story is from Gaitskill’s 1997 story collection Because They Wanted To. The story doesn’t seem to be available online anywhere, so you’ll have to track down the book, or that year’s Best American Short Stories, in which this story is featured. Also, fair warning: the story does contain some graphic sex, some of which is, at best, semi-consensual. Just putting that out there as a kind of trigger warning. We talk about aggressive masculinity, cultural awareness of sexual politics, and trapping your characters in enclosed spaces.

Gaitskill

This week’s shorts, meanwhile, comprise a pretty broad category, which is described in this questionably sourced Wikipedia entry. We talk about “wicking,” whether it’s okay to go shirtless in public during the summer months, and to what degree our middle- and high-school gym class experiences match up with the portrayal of gym class in pop culture.

As always, the episode is available to stream, below, by clicking on the little player thingy. Or you can download the mp3 file. Or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode. We welcome your comments on the episode. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a note here on the episode’s blog post. Though Mike is on vacation for a few more days (this is him talking to you from the past … spooooooky!) so if you have comments directed specifically at him, the response might take a little longer than usual. Or, you and Tom can just gossip about him in his absence.

Thanks for listening!

Stream:

Download Summer of Shorts #5 (right-click, save-as)


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Episode 65: J.D. Salinger, “Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters” and “Seymour: An Introduction”

This week we read a couple long stories (novellas, maybe?) by this guy named J.D. Salinger. Maybe you’ve heard of him? These two pieces are usually packaged together, and both concern Seymour Glass, and more generally the Glass family, who make appearances in a number of other Salinger stories. Most notably, perhaps, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” “Franny,” and “Zooey.” Anyway, we read these two things and we talked about them and we recorded it and now you can put our conversation in your ears if you want. Technology!

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Discussion points include: discursive narrators, old-fashioned storytelling, the pleasures of being a recluse, and which generation is the worst generation.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the little player thingy below. Or download the mp3 file. Or visit us in iTunes, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another installment. If you want to support the show, we’ll gladly take your donation, and will write a blurb for you to be read on the air. Or you can click on any of the Powell’s links around the site, to support both us and a great indie bookstore. If you use those links to get to their site, anything you buy will throw a little money our way.

Thanks for listening!

Stream:

Download Episode 65 (right-click, save-as)


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Summer of Shorts Episode 4: Edward Porter and Cargo Shorts

This week we welcome back Dave Housley (Barrelhouse editor, Grateful Dead fan, author of the forthcoming If I Knew The Way, I Would Take You Home) to discuss Edward Porter’s story from Issue 11 of Barrelhouse, “The White Guy’s Guide to Marrying a Black Woman.” We talk about the story’s second-person voice, and how it both uses and transcends its “how-to” conceit. We also provide a peek inside the editorial process, and what makes a submission stand out in the queue.

Note: You can find a linked .pdf version of the story at the bottom of this post.

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We’re also, of course, continuing our encyclopedic exploration through the world of shorts. We debate the relative coolness of cargo shorts, and when we, as a culture, reached “peak cargo.” We also discuss the rise of camouflage cargo, and the brief period during which all men’s bathing suits had extra cargo pockets. Whatever your opinion of pockets, I think we can all agree there is no reason for these things to exist:

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Also this week, Mike finally drives Tom crazy, via the musical stylings of the band Phish. If only this were a video podcast, you could see some pretty sweet white-guy dance moves. Alas, you’ll just have to use your imagination.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file. Or, visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe to the show (for free!) and never miss another installment. We also welcome your feedback on what we talked about: you can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment on this post.

Stream:

Download Summer of Shorts #4 (right-click, save-as)

Ed Porter – The White Guy’s Guide To Marrying a Black Woman (pdf)


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Episode 64: Anita Konkka, A Fool’s Paradise

This week Tom continues his year of reading books outside his usual comfort zones, with Finnish author Anita Konkka’s A Fool’s Paradise, from Dalkey Archive Press. The book is written much like a diary, following the daily musings of an unemployed woman who is having an affair with a married man. We talk about the risks and potential rewards of writing a book without much in the way of plot, the novel’s aphoristic style, and how many recountings of one’s dreams are too many recountings of one’s dreams.

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We’ve also got a new installment this week of Fan Fiction Corner, during which we get to know some popular fan fiction tropes. We’ve got a little bit of everything: accidental marriages, non-sexual showers, alien pheromones, and erotic tentacles. All trope definitions come from Fanlore, in case you’d like to explore any of them further (no judgment!)

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the little player thingy below. Or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, Instacast, Stitcher Radio, or just about any other podcast app you can find. We’d love to hear your feedback on what we talked about. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site.

Thanks for listening!

Stream:

Download Episode 64 (right-click, save-as)


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Summer of Shorts Episode 3: Beard and Skorts

This week’s short-story pick is actually an essay: Jo Ann Beard’s “Werner,” which appears in the 2007 edition of Best American Essays, edited by David Foster Wallace. Actually, much of our discussion concerns whether it’s fair to call this an “essay.” It’s based on real events, but pretty clearly takes fictional liberties, such as inhabiting the mind of its protagonist (not the author) in a move more frequently seen in short stories. The essay isn’t available for free online, but you can read another Jo Ann Beard piece, “The Fourth State of Matter,” on The New Yorker website.

Our shorts for the week are another genre-bender: skorts, against which Mike has a long-standing personal grudge. We explore that grudge in depth, as well as several of Tom’s childhood grudges. Talking about shorts, it turns out, tends to be a real walk down memory lane.

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Talking points this week include: genre distinctions, recess, bird poop, disappointing limo rides, condiments, lisps, Pee Wee football, magazine sales, enviable prose, and burning buildings.

As always, you can stream the episode here, on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode. We welcome your feedback on what we talked about this week. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on this post.

Thanks for listening!

Stream:

Download Summer of Shorts: Beard and Skorts (right-click, save-as)


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Episode 63: Michael W. Clune, White Out

We welcome a special guest, Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams) to discuss Clune’s memoir of heroin addiction. While a graduate student in literature at Johns Hopkins University, Clune was also a daily heroin user, a life he chronicles in dreamy, often beautiful prose. We also talk about addiction memoirs more generally, Jamison’s approach to essay-writing, pie shakes, Iowa City, and Haley Joel Osment.

WhiteOut

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. Or find us in the iTunes store, where you can catch up on previous installments and subscribe (for free!) to never miss another one. We welcome your feedback on what we talked about. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site.

If you’d like to support the show, you can donate by clicking on the little piggy back on the right (in exchange for your donation, we’ll write you a blurb and read it on the show). You can also support us by supporting our sponsor, Powell’s Books. Just click on any of the Powell’s links around our page–including the cover image of Clune’s book, above–and anything you buy from the Powell’s store will send a little money back our way.

Thanks for listening!

Stream the episode:

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Summer of Shorts Episode 2: Dubus and Jorts

Welcome back to the Summer of Shorts! This week we’re talking about the Andre Dubus story “The Fat Girl,” and the oft-maligned jort. Mike has been teaching this Dubus story for several years, through many syllabus changes. It follows its protagonist, Louise, through her childhood, college, marriage and pregnancy, tracking her difficult relationship to food and to her own self-image.

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While we can’t confirm that Dubus was a jorts-wearer–nor that he was, in fact, wearing jorts in the above photo–we can confirm that jorts were the preferred summer fashion move for a young Tom McAllister. He was also a Doors fan, as illustrated by this photo:

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Though he’s actually wearing Eagles-themed gym shorts in that photo, one can imagine that in jorts he looked something like this:

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Here’s a pdf version of the Dubus story someone has posted online, if you don’t mind reading past someone else’s notes and underlinings (actually, it looks like they lost steam after the second page). And here’s a link to the story Tom mentioned in the episode, about a Weight Watchers participant getting fed up with the program.

As always, you can stream the episode below, or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can catch up on back episodes and subscribe (for free). If you’ve got feedback on what we talked about today, feel free to shoot us an email, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the episode post. Thanks for listening!

Stream:

Download Summer of Shorts #2 (right-click, save-as)

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