Book Fight!

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T-shirt design poll

As we sadly near the end of the Summer of Shorts, it’s time for us to honor that unsung hero of all of our wardrobes: the t-shirt.

Thanks to listener, writer, and artist Killian Czuba, we now have 5 great t-shirt designs in the queue, and as we decide how many shirts to print, and in which styles, we need your input.  Check out the designs, study them, memorize them, and then select your favorites (choose up to 2) in the poll below. And then go follow Killian on Twitter @killianczuba. And then, after that, start clearing space in your t-shirt drawers and on your torsos.

bookfight egg color (1) bookfight horsenames color (1) bookfight corgi color (2) beer and books w text (1) detective baby shirt test (3)


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Episode 67: Geoff Dyer, Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It

This week’s book is a Mike pick: an essay collection about travel, displacement, love, loss, and occasional psychedelic drugs. We talk about the necessary artifice of narration, and why readers so often fail to acknowledge it; how travel experiences are often more about the traveler than the place itself; about dark humor and bad habits. We also bring back our Sticks and Stones segment, make an important announcement, and get lost in a Groundhog Day-style feedback loop.

Yoga

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 and never miss another installment. While you’re over at iTunes, it would be great if you’d leave us a quick review and a star rating, which helps us reach new listeners. Also: tell your friends! (unless they’re jerks; we don’t need any jerks)

You can find out more about Todd Kaneko’s The Dead Wrestler Elegies at Curbside Splendor. You can find out more about Hostel Detroit at its website. You can learn more about our upcoming live event on our Twitter feed, and probably on Facebook pretty soon.

This week’s end-of-show music is from the new Strand of Oaks album Heal.

As always, we welcome your feedback on what we talked about. And, as always, thanks for listening!

Stream:

Download Episode 67 (right-click, save-as)


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Summer of Shorts Episode 7: Barthelme and Swim Trunks

This week’s short story pick is Donald Barthelme’s “Me and Miss Mandible,” about a 35-year-old man who suddenly finds himself in a classroom of eleven-year-olds. This week’s shorts pick is swim trunks, since Tom is about to leave on a beach vacation despite pretty much hating the beach. Mike grew up near the beach, and would like to convince Tom that his fears of the ocean are irrational.

Our vacation schedules are also why you’re getting two weeks straight of Summer of Shorts episodes. Well, that and it’s summer, and like us you should be taking every last opportunity to celebrate shorts, before the weather turns and we once again have to wear pants and continue on our slow march toward death.

If you’d like to read the story, there appears to be a copy of it here, though we can’t vouch for the veracity of the text. You can also find it in Barthelme’s first story collection, Come Back, Dr. Caligari, or in the collected Sixty Stories (Penguin Classics).

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 catch up on back episodes and subscribe (for free) and never miss another dispatch. We’ll be back next week with a full book episode. Thanks for listening!

Stream:

Download Summer of Shorts #7 (right-click, save-as)


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Summer of Shorts Episode 6: Alexie and Boxers

Welcome back to the Summer of Shorts! This week’s short story is Sherman Alexie’s “What You Pawn I Will Redeem,” which you can read here, via the New Yorker. This week’s shorts are boxers. Trigger warning: We’re gonna talk about our underpants. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

AlexieBoxers

Talking points for the Alexie story include quests, potlatch culture, portrayals of Native Americans in popular culture, humor of the oppressed, and stories with built-in clocks. Talking points for boxers include the history of underwear, torsion, the pedophilic tendencies of Tom’s soccer coach, going commando, and Mike’s desire to keep his swimmers swimming.

As always, you can stream the episode for free by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode.

Thanks for listening!

Stream:

Download Summer of Shorts #6 (right-click, save-as)


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Episode 66: Aglaja Veteranyi, Why The Child Is Cooking In The Polenta

We’re joined this week by returning guest Matt Jakubowski–writer, critic, and interviews editor for the international journal Asymptote–to discuss the English translation of Aglala Veteranyi’s Why the Child is Cooking in the Polenta. The book, originally published in German, was translated by Vincent Kling, a professor at LaSalle University (and one of Tom’s former teachers).

Polenta

We discuss the book’s odd but compelling voice, which includes a lot of poetic sentence fragments and line breaks, plus more abundant use of all-caps than Tom and Mike are usually comfortable with. We also wonder about the links between the book’s story and the author’s own life–Veteranyi was born in Bucharest but traveled with her circus-performing family as a girl before finally settling in Switzerland.

We also talk about Matt’s decision to read only women in 2014: what led him to the decision, how the hashtag #ReadWomen2014 took off, and what he’s learned from the project. You can read more about Matt’s resolution for the year here, in a blog post for Asymptote. Finally, we put Matt through a lightning round of questions while outside the window actual lightning explodes across the sky (and a couple times buzzes our recording equipment).

As always, you can stream the episode right 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’re also available via Stitcher Radio, Instacast, Downcast, or just about any other podcast application you can find.

Thanks for listening!

Stream:

Download Episode 66 (right-click, save-as)


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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 Best American Short Stories, 1993, 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!

raise-high-the-roof-beam-carpenters-seymour-an-introduction-17339010

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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