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Episode 90: Sarah Hepola, Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank To Forget

This week’s episode is a bit different from our normal routine. After reading Sarah Hepola’s memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, we were prompted to discuss our own drinking habits, and whether we should be concerned about them. We recount our own histories with alcohol, including times we’ve felt we had our drinking under control and times we’ve been concerned about it. All in the service of answering a pretty tough question: how do you know when your drinking has become a problem?

Blackout_Cover

Of course we also talk about the book itself, in which Hepola recounts her own arc of addiction, relapse, and eventual recovery. Hepola is a naturally funny writer, and infuses her story with a good bit of self-deprecating humor, which makes the book stand out in a crowded field of (often melodramatic) addiction narratives. She also examines her drinking through a gendered lens, considering how being a problem drinker as a woman is different from being a problem drinker as a man. You can read an interview with Hepola here, at The Rumpus, in which she talks about the process of acknowledging her own drinking problems and the process of writing the book.

And here’s a link to the Caroline Knapp memoir, Drinking: A Love Story, which Hepola discusses in her book and which Mike also read and discussed a bit during the episode.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we talked about this week. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re now on Facebook! So come visit us over there, where we are slowly getting better about posting candid studio photos and links to stuff we’ve talked about on the show.

Stream the episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

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Summer of Love: George Saunders, “The Barber’s Unhappiness”

This week we’re discussing the George Saunders story, “The Barber’s Unhappiness,” about a sad-sack guy with jacked-up toes who wants companionship but can’t seem to get out of his own way. We consider the story’s lessons about love and superficiality, and the line between generous and mean-spirited humor.

Also this week, we discuss the origins of computer dating, and how online dating just gives people new ways to be shallow. Plus America’s favorite wedding songs! And Tom talks about a woman he dated who isn’t his wife!

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we discussed on this week’s show. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re now on Facebook! So come visit us over there, where we are slowly getting better about posting candid studio photos and links to stuff we’ve talked about on the show.

Stream the episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

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Episode 89: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens

This week’s book is a bit outside our usual reading habits, but it was chosen for us by a donor to the show during our last fund drive. Neither of us had read anything by either Gaiman or Pratchett before, though we were both aware of their reputations, and we knew this book in particular was something of a cult classic. So we gave it a read, and then tried to figure out what it was, exactly, that made it so beloved to so many people.

Gaiman

During the episode we talk about the book’s humor, and whether it’s appropriate for adults. We try to decide if it’s a satire and, if so, what exactly it’s satirizing. We contemplate the possibility we’re both just a couple of grumps. Oh, and we shit on The Goonies a little, too, just for good measure.

Enjoy!

Here’s a link to the Tom Robbins episode we mentioned a couple times. Here’s a link to Philip Hoare’s The Sea Inside, and his previous book The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea. Speaking of our recommendations, you can follow Mike on Instagram @mikeingram00.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we discussed. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re now on Facebook! So come visit us over there, where we are slowly getting better about posting candid studio photos and links to stuff we’ve talked about on the show.

Stream the episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

Stream the episode:

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Summer of Love: Allan Gurganus, “Minor Heroism”

This week we’re debuting our new seasonal theme: the Summer of Love! We’ll be reading love-related stories and essays–and maybe even some poems–and discussing love from a variety of angles. Philosophy! Psychology! The comics page! Our own questionable decision-making! And so much more.

Speaking of the Summer of Love, if you’ve got a love-related question for us, send us an email, and we’ll answer your question on an upcoming episode. We can’t promise our advice will be good, but it will be … advice!

Anyway, on to this week’s show, in which we discuss Allan Gurganus’s story “Minor Heroism,” which originally appeared in the New Yorker in 1974. If you’re a New Yorker subscriber, you can read the story here. Though as with all our episodes, you don’t have to read the story to listen to the discussion. “Minor Heroism” was, reportedly, the first story featuring gay characters to be published in the New Yorker, and we talk this week about some of the seismic shifts that have occurred in gay rights and gay acceptance over the last few decades. Since our childhoods, there’s been a pretty amazing sea change, a realization we both had after the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage.

Also this week, we test our podcasting partnership by taking a relationship quick by Doctor Phil.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we discussed on this week’s show. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re now on Facebook! So come visit us over there, where we are slowly getting better about posting candid studio photos and links to stuff we’ve talked about on the show.

Stream the episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

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Episode 88: Marlon James, The Book of Night Women

This week we welcome guest Asali Solomon, Philly native and author of the new novel Disgruntled. The book Solomon picked for us to read is Marlon James’s 2009 novel The Book of Night Women, about a Jamaican sugar plantation around the turn of the 18th century and the lives of the enslaved women living there. We talk with Solomon about the novel’s contemporary feel and surprising humor, its use of Jamaiacan dialect, and why she considers it to be “a bad-ass book.”

James

We also talk with Solomon about growing up in West Philly, which neighborhoods of the city she was told to avoid, and how Philadelphia changed in her absence. And why do racist neighborhoods so often have the best bakeries? Of course we also subject Solomon to our usual lightning-round questions, and we learn about several authors she wouldn’t mind punching, if given the chance.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we discussed. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re now on Facebook! So come visit us over there, where we are slowly getting better about posting candid studio photos and links to stuff we’ve talked about on the show.

Stream the episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

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Spring of Spite: Edgar Allan Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado”

Today we’re once again sponsored by 21st Century Prose, an open-access book series published by the University of Michigan Press. Go here to check out their books (use promo code BOOKFIGHT for 30% off any orders) and even read them for free. Go here to read series editor Matthew Vollmer’s mission statement for the series.

It’s the final week in our Spring of Spite series, and we’re going Poe! “The Cask of Amontillado” is spiteful in at least two ways: the narrator is certainly motivated by spite, at least in part, as he walls his “friend” up in his own tomb. But Poe also drew on some personal feelings of spite while writing it. We talk this week about our experiences with Poe, and our (differing) interest levels in continuing to read his work. We also try to unpack the complicated feud between Poe and some letter-writing ladies that led, at least indirectly, to this story’s creation.

We’ve also got some other tales of spite this week, including a couple that are ripped from the headlines: Bobby Flay’s spiteful (and ongoing) divorce proceedings, and George Lucas’s plans to build spite-fueled low-income housing in Marin County. Plus a woman who just kept fucking louder qnd louder until a judge finally tossed her in jail. And the long-running love/hate relationship between Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski.

Finally this week, we consider the lack of good contemporary literary feuds, and speculate about what might be making today’s writers less prone to feud-based dramatics.

As always, you can listen to the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the streaming player below. Or you can download the mp3 file. Or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can listen to back episodes and subscribe (for free!) to make sure you never miss another installment. While you’re in iTunes, please take a second to leave us a rating and a review. Both those things help the show move up the charts and ultimately allow us to reach a wider audience.

We’re always happy to hear what you think about what we discussed on the show. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re now on Facebook! So come visit us over there, where we’ll post occasional photos and notes, and maybe preview upcoming show features.

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Episode 87: Paul Beatty, The Sellout

This week’s episode is sponsored by 21st Century Prose, a new book series run by the University of Michigan and edited by Matthew Vollmer. The books in the series defy easy genre classification, and you can read them for free online. Though paperback and hardback versions are also available for purchase; if you do buy one of the books, use offer code “bookfight” to get 30% off your order.

Okay, this week’s book is a Tom pick, the newest novel by Paul Beatty, which has been getting glowing reviews from all corners. The Sellout is a comedy about an African American man in a small agrarian town near Los Angeles who re-introduces slavery and segregation and whose case eventually winds its way to the Supreme Court. We talk about the book’s argument, and how to classify its often absurdist humor. We also discuss the effects of satire, in a rather fractured media landscape, and wonder if it can still change people’s opinions or perceptions.

sellout

In the second half of the show, we’ve got another installment of Fan Fiction Corner. This time, Mike has found some fanfic detailing Barack Obama’s fantasy love life. You can read the entire story, “A Princess for the President,” here. Though be forewarned: there is some graphic (and very weird) content.

You can learn more about the Hound Tall Discussion Series, with Moshe Kasher, here. You can learn more about public transportation by standing on the corner and waiting for the bus to come. Presumably, one will show up eventually.

We’re always happy to hear what you think about the things we discussed on the show. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re now on Facebook! So come visit us over there, where we’ll post occasional photos and show notes, and maybe preview upcoming features.

Stream:

Download Episode 87 (right-click, save-as)

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