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Tough love for literature


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Fall of Failures Episode 5: Kevin Sampsell and Failed Utopias

This week we’re reading Kevin Sampsell‘s essay “I’m Jumping Off the Bridge,” originally published on Salon and featured in last year’s Best American Essays, edited by Cheryl Strayed. We’re also talking about failed utopias, including dangerous cults, geometry-obsessed vegetarians, Shakers, libertarians, and more.

Check out Sampsell’s novel, This Is Between Us, or his memoir, A Common Pornography, at Powell’s. Anything you buy from the Powell’s site will kick back a little money our way.

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, and do with it what you will. We’re also in the iTunes store, and in just about any of the available podcast apps floating around in the world. If you subscribe, through one of those methods, you’ll never miss another episode.

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We’d love to hear your feedback on what we talked about. You can send us an email, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment right here on this post.


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Episode 72: Ravi Mangla, Understudies

This week’s book is a Tom pick, and was also the runner-up to The Silver Linings Playbook in last year’s donor voting. Ravi Mangla’s Understudies came out earlier this year from San Francisco-based Outpost 19. You can read a brief excerpt on the Outpost 19 website.

Understudies-RMangla-promo
Also: It's November, which must mean it's National Novel Writing Month. This week we dig into the NaNoWriMo forums to see what the participants are struggling with: how to name alligators and horses, gas masks for animals, living in a clock tower, and a world where houses are sort of like computers or something?

You can stream the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the little player thingy below. You can also visit us in the iTunes store (link below) where you can catch up on back episodes and subscribe (for free) so you never miss another installment.

As always, thanks for listening to the show, and helping to spread the words to your literature-loving friends. If you’ve got feedback for us, we’re happy to hear it. You can email us, Tweet at us, or just leave a comment here on the site.

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Fall of Failure Episode 4: Eula Biss and Failed Amusement Parks

This week’s short is a Tom pick, an essay by Eula Biss called “Time and Distance Overcome,” which is about, among other things, early telephone technology, resistance to telephone poles, and the widespread lynching of black men in early-20th century America. We talk about non-linear essays, and whether it’s more interesting or less interesting to know something about the behind-the-scenes construction of a piece.

We also talk this week about failed amusement parks: some that were proposed but never built, like an entire theme park in Indiana that would’ve been devoted to Garfield, and some that probably shouldn’t have been built, all things considered, including a wild-animal safari in New Jersey responsible for at least two deaths, and Dickens World in the UK, which seems like the Saddest Place on Earth.

You can read more about Dickens World here, in a great New York Times Magazine piece by Sam Anderson. Here’s a link to some photos of the creepy (and now demolished) Gulliver’s Kingdom in Japan.

Finally, here’s a Dailymotion mini-documentary about Action Park, featuring comedian Chris Gethard. We would highly recommend you spend the next twelve minutes of your life watching it. That starting image is an actual, non-photoshopped picture of the park’s looping waterslide, in case you thought Mike was making that up.

And in case you missed the link above, you can read the essay here.

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, and do with it what you will. We’re also in the iTunes store, and in just about any of the available podcast apps floating around in the world. If you subscribe, through one of those methods, you’ll never miss another episode.

Stream:

Download Fall of Failure #4 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!

We’d love to hear your feedback on what we talked about. You can send us an email, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment right here on this post.


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Fall of Failure Episode 3: Kseniya Melnik, “Strawberry Lipstick,” and Failed Dog Breeds

This week our short story comes from Kseniya Melnik, whose debut collection, Snow in May, came out this spring from Macmillan. The story we chose, “Strawberry Lipstick,” traces the increasingly troubled marriage of a young woman in 1950s Russia.

SnowInMay

We’re also continuing our Fall of Failure theme by looking into failed dog breeds, including one, the “turnspit,” that people put into their ovens, because humans are total garbage monsters. We also talk about the Moscow Water Dog, the Hawaiian Poi Dog, and several other breeds that, for one reason or another, either went extinct or never quite lived up to their initial billing.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to listen to whenever you want. You can also visit us in the iTunes store, where you can find back episodes and subscribe (for free) to never miss another installment.

We’re always interested in hearing your thoughts on what we talked about. You can send us an email, tweet at us, or just leave a comment on this here post.

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Episode 70: William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

Hey, have you heard of this William Faulkner fellow? Turns out he’s kind of a big deal. If you’ve been waiting to dive in and read (or re-read) Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, now’s the week to do it. Or, just listen to us yap about it for an hour and then you can pretend you’ve read it at various literary parties and state dinners.

AsILayDying

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 and do with it what you will. You can also visit us in the iTunes store, where you can download individual episodes or subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode.

Our recommendations this week: Check out Lockjaw Magazine, where you can read lots of cool stuff and submit your own work. Also, Michael Garriga’s The Book of Duels.

And while we’ve got your attention, how about buying yourself–and/or your loved ones–a Book Fight t-shirt? They’re quite handsome/sexy, and everyone will know you’re the kind of cool man or lady who both reads books and understands technology.

Thanks, as always, for listening to the show, and helping to spread the words to your literature-loving friends. If you’ve got feedback for us, we’re happy to hear it. You can email us, Tweet at us, or just leave a comment here on the site.

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Live from the Spiral Bookcase in Manayunk!

This week: Our first-ever live podcast event! We recorded an entire show live, in front of actual humans, at The Spiral Bookcase, a great indie bookstore in Manayunk, just outside Center City Philadelphia and only a couple blocks from Tom’s ancestral home. We talked to Ann Tetreault (owner of said bookstore), Joey Sweeney (musician, writer, proprietor of Philebrity.com), Katherine Hill (fan favorite, author of The Violet Hour) and Lee Klein (author of Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck, and The Shimmering Go-Between).

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Topics on the menu included: what it’s like to run an indie bookstore in 2014, Philadelphia’s culture of complaint, the sometimes annoying ways in which people use Kickstarter, Philadelphia’s upcoming 215 Literary Festival, the Washington Football Team, the ups and downs of being a first-time author, unicorn ties, and what to do when Marilynne Robinson doesn’t like your book about auto-fellation.

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Also, Joey played us some music! And there was an awesome cat!

Sadly, you can’t hear the cat. You can, however, hear the rest of us. As usual, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file and do with it what you will. You can also check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another installment. If you like the show, come on back next week for a new episode, and tell your friends. Thanks for listening!

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