Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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Episode 68: Kenzaburo Oe, A Personal Matter

This week we have another Tom pick, perhaps the best-known novel by Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe, first published in 1964 (Oe won the Nobel Prize thirty years later). The semi-autobiographical novel follows Bird, a young father deciding whether to save his son–born with what appears to be a severe birth defect–or allow him to die.

a-personal-matter book jacket

We talk about the book’s rather graphic–and sometimes violent–sex scenes, as well as its portrayal of hospitals and medical professionals. Plus we’ve got another edition of our Sticks and Stones segment. And raccoon facts!

As always, you can stream the episode here on our site, 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! We’d love your feedback on what we talked about. Feel free to leave a comment here on the site, send us an email, or hit us up on Twitter.

Oh! And we have t-shirts, which are now available for pre-order in our store.

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NEWS: Live show, merchandise

Hey everyone: we have a store now. And it sells t-shirts. Until 9/10, you can pre-order t-shirts at the discounted rate of $18. Over time, we’ll be adding more products and a greater variety to the store, but we think you’ll love the designs we have in place already.

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So go there and get your pre-orders in now.

ITEM NUMBER TWO: We’re running our first ever live show in Philly on 9/25 at 7 PM. Guests include fan favorite Katherine Hill, Barrelhouse author Lee Klein, and writer/musician Joey Sweeney.

We’ll be hosted by the great indie bookstore The Spiral Bookcase, and the evening will be full of all the tomfoolery, mikefoolery, and lit-adjacent talk you’ve come to expect. Also maybe bring a flask.

Full event details are here.

We hope to have some shirts to sell on site, but your best bet is to head over to the store and order one now.

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Summer of Shorts Episode 8: Moore and Jobs

Well, Book Fighters, you knew this day had to come. The summer is officially over, and with it the Summer of Shorts has to come to an end. But don’t fret! If you’ve fallen in love with shorts, and the shorts lifestyle–the ease of movement, the gentle breeze on your exposed knees–this week we’re exploring some careers that might allow you to wear shorts all year long.

We’ve also got a final short story, this one by Lorrie Moore. “People Like That Are the Only People Here” can be found in Moore’s story collection Birds of America. Or, if you’re a New Yorker subscriber, you can read it on their website.

If there are jobs we left out, please let us know in the comments. Also, if you’ve got suggestions for our next seasonal project–we discuss a couple options at the end of this week’s show, but we’re still workshopping them, and we’re open to feedback. And of course we’re always happy to hear what you think about the ideas raised in the episode, your opinions on the story, or anything else you want to throw our way. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site.

As always, you can stream the episode here on our site, or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another installment. Thanks for listening!

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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!

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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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