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Fall of Failure Episode 7: Stefan Zweig and Failed Comebacks

In this, our penultimate Fall of Failure episode, we’re reading the Stefan Zweig story The Royal Game, which was the last piece of fiction ever published by one of the world’s most popular writers. Zweig mailed the story to his editor along with his completed autobiography and his suicide note. Zweig was living in Brazil at the time, in a self-imposed exile from his home country of Austria, in the midst of WWII.

We also talk about some failed comebacks: Hollywood comebacks, athletic comebacks, and the rather fascinating story of America’s late-19th-century Gum King.

Speaking of gum, here’s a link to one of the greatest–and most necessary–PowerPoint presentations of all time, as mentioned by Tom on this week’s show.

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. You can also visit us in the iTunes store, or through just about any of the available podcast apps, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode.

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We always welcome your feedback on what we talked about on the show. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the episode post. Thanks for listening!


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Episode 74: Greg Baxter, A Preparation for Death

In keeping with our fall theme, this week we’re discussing a memoir about failure: Greg Baxter’s A Preparation for Death, which recounts the author’s unraveling after failing to sell his first novel, moving to Dublin, and getting divorced. “Traditional autobiography is composed after the experience has passed,” Baxter writes in the memoir’s preface. “I wrote this book in the very panic of the experiences that inspired it.”

APreparationForDeath

A March 2013 New Yorker essay called Baxter’s book “grim reading,” and said there was “much to dislike” about it. Since Mike is interested in the line between honesty and self-indulgence in memoir writing, and also often likes writing that’s polarizing, that skewering was enough to make him pick it up, and then foist it upon Tom.

We’ve also got another installment this week of Raccoon News, and another dip into the NaNoWriMo forums. Yes, we know it’s December, but we gave NaNoWriMo pretty short shrift this year.

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. You can also visit us in the iTunes store, or through just about any of the available podcast apps, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode.

Stream:

Download Episode 74 (right-click, save-as)

We always welcome your feedback on what we talked about on the show. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the episode post. Thanks for listening!

 

Also: please take a minute to vote for us in The AV Club’s Best Podcast of 2014 poll. 


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Fall of Failure Episode 6: Daniel Hoyt and Artistic Failure

Our story this week, “Here I Am,” by Daniel Hoyt, was originally published in the winter issue of The Cincinnati Review. It’s about a man who continues to live after his head is violently separated from his body. We’re also talking this week about artistic failure. We consider why those treacly lists of “famous people who failed/were rejected” get under our skin. And then we talk about a couple specific “failures” (application of the term is always somewhat debatable): Antonin Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, which is still incomplete nearly 90 years after his death; and the attempted smear campaign against Edgar Allan Poe by his literary nemesis.

For good measure, we cap off this week’s episode by considering the adult career of Jonathan Lipnicki.

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. You can also visit us in the iTunes store, or through just about any of the available podcast apps, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode.

Stream:

Download Fall of Failure #6 (right-click, save-as)

We always welcome your feedback on what we talked about on the show. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the episode post. Thanks for listening!


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Episode 73: Mark Binelli, Detroit City Is The Place To Be

We’re joined this week by Gina Myers (poet, reviewer, recent transplant to Philadelphia) to discuss Mark Binelli’s much-praised 2012 book about his home town and America’s favorite allegory. The book is perhaps best described as long-form journalism, though with a fair bit of history, sociology, urban planning and political science thrown into the mix.

Gina, who grew up in nearby Saginaw, Michigan, picked this week’s book, which Mike was happy to read, having just returned from a trip to Detroit this summer. Tom, never having been to the state of Michigan, just had to grudgingly go along.

detroit

You can find out more about Gina, and her two full-length collections of poetry, at her website. You can also follow her on Twitter.

To stream this week’s episode right here on our site, just click 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 for 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 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.

Stream:

Download Fall of Failure #5 (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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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.

Stream:

Download Episode 72 (right-click, save-as)


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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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