Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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Episode 338: Welcome Back, Angry Tom

This week we’re reading a short story from Nick White’s debut collection that was recommended by author Alissa Nutting. You can read the story here, via Electric Literature. White’s story prompts a discussion of the book business, specifically the rarity of short story collections published by big presses and how both the hype machine for young authors and the pushback against the hype machine for young authors can grow quickly tiresome.

Also this week: We begin what will surely be a multi-week exploration of book influencers (book-fluencers?) on Instagram.

As always, you can listen to the podcast right here on our site. Or check us out via Apple Podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!), so that you’ll never miss another weekly episode. We’re also in Spotify, Stitcher, and just about any other podcast app you might use (if you can’t find us somewhere, reach out and let us know!)

If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5, you’ll get access to three bonus episodes a month, including Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations. How do you talk to a writer whose work you like after a reading? How do you promote your own writing without annoying people? Should you force your spouse or significant other to read your work? We’ve got the answers to these and many other pressing questions.

Until next time: thanks for listening!

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Bonus Episode: Reading the Room

We ran into some technical difficulties with the book-based episode scheduled to release this week, so instead we’re bringing you this free bonus episode, which was slated to be behind the Patreon paywall. We hope you enjoy it! We talk about what writers owe–and do not owe–to readers who reach out to them with questions, comments, or a desire to continue the conversation started by their work. How can you be kind and generous to your readers, but also set boundaries so that you don’t wind up giving away too much of your time and labor?

This episode was inspired in part by responses Mike’s been getting to an essay he wrote about reckoning with his racist fraternity. Lots of people have reached out with kind comments, and interesting questions, but he’s also gotten requests that feel like a bridge too far.

Thanks for listening, and we hope you enjoy the bonus episode! We do a couple of these a month for our Patreon subscribers, along with a bonus book episode, usually about a goofy romance novel or something else outside our usual reading patterns. If you want more of that content, you can subscribe for just $5 a month. And we’ll be back next week with another regular episode.

As always, you can listen to the podcast right here on our site. Or check us out via Apple Podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!), so that you’ll never miss another weekly episode. We’re also in Spotify, Stitcher, and just about any other podcast app you might use (if you can’t find us somewhere, reach out and let us know!)

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Episode 337: Bad, Bad Luck

This week’s story is by South Korean writer and filmmaker Lee Chang-Dong, and it’s called “On Destiny.” It basically traces the entire life of its main character, from his youth in an orphanage, separated during the war from his parents, and through stints of poverty, jail time, and then a possible payday. We talk about what makes certain stories feel fable-like, and the surprising little details that crop up when reading fiction in translation, like unexpected metaphors and unfamiliar aphorisms.

Also this week: another installment of Celebrities Recommend, including book picks from a star tennis player and a Food Network star.

As always, you can listen to the podcast right here on our site. Or check us out via Apple Podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!), so that you’ll never miss another weekly episode. We’re also in Spotify, Stitcher, and just about any other podcast app you might use (if you can’t find us somewhere, reach out and let us know!)

If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5, you’ll get access to three bonus episodes a month, including Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations. How do you talk to a writer whose work you like after a reading? How do you promote your own writing without annoying people? Should you force your spouse or significant other to read your work? We’ve got the answers to these and many other pressing questions.

Until next time: thanks for listening!

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Episode 336: Lost in Translation

This week we’re discussing a story by a celebrated Iranian author, Goli Taraghi, as well as a piece from the Los Angeles Review of Books that attempts to put her work into a cultural context. Are there things we don’t get, as Western readers? Will certain elements of fiction always be culturally dependent, and thus slightly out of reach for readers outside that culture? Or is the story just too long and kind of meandering?

Also this week: Dave Eggers gets roasted.

Here’s a link to the story: “The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons
The piece from the LARB: “The Forgotten Charm of Iranian Storytelling
Dave Eggers in The New York Times: “Testing, Testing

As always, you can listen to the podcast right here on our site. Or check us out via Apple Podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!), so that you’ll never miss another weekly episode. We’re also in Spotify, Stitcher, and just about any other podcast app you might use (if you can’t find us somewhere, reach out and let us know!)

If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5, you’ll get access to three bonus episodes a month, including Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations. How do you talk to a writer whose work you like after a reading? How do you promote your own writing without annoying people? Should you force your spouse or significant other to read your work? We’ve got the answers to these and many other pressing questions.

Until next time: thanks for listening!

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Episode 335: I’m Your Huckleberry

This week we discuss a 2018 John Edgar Wideman story from The New Yorker, about a writing teacher trying to decide how to talk to a white student about a well-meaning story she’s writing about the travails of a person of color. You can read that story here. Then we learn what books Val Kilmer thinks we should be reading this summer.

As always, you can listen to the podcast right here on our site. Or check us out via Apple Podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!), so that you’ll never miss another weekly episode. We’re also in Spotify, Stitcher, and just about any other podcast app you might use (if you can’t find us somewhere, reach out and let us know!)

If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5, you’ll get access to three bonus episodes a month, including Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations. How do you talk to a writer whose work you like after a reading? How do you promote your own writing without annoying people? Should you force your spouse or significant other to read your work? We’ve got the answers to these and many other pressing questions.

Until next time: thanks for listening!

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Episode 334: When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

We’re in the midst of a global pandemic and a long-overdue upswell of support for defunding our ridiculously over-militarized police, all of which made Tom want to read a story about his dear old Ireland: Edward J. Delaney’s “The Drowning.” Actually the story is fine–good, even!–but it leads to a discussion of when we want fiction that helps us to think about the current moment and when we want fiction that takes us out of the current moment. Also: we follow up on last week’s discussion of what personal essays are for.

As always, you can listen to the podcast right here on our site. Or check us out via Apple Podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!), so that you’ll never miss another weekly episode. We’re also in Spotify, Stitcher, and just about any other podcast app you might use (if you can’t find us somewhere, reach out and let us know!)

If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5, you’ll get access to three bonus episodes a month, including Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations. How do you talk to a writer whose work you like after a reading? How do you promote your own writing without annoying people? Should you force your spouse or significant other to read your work? We’ve got the answers to these and many other pressing questions.

Until next time: thanks for listening!

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Episode 333: What Are Personal Essays For?

This week we’re discussing an essay by Mary Heather Noble called “Plume: An Investigation,” which was originally published by True Story. The essay weaves together a few narrative strands, including the author trying to understand her young daughter’s sometimes perplexing behavior, which leads her, unexpectedly, to a better understanding of her difficult father. The essay’s a good one, and it prompts a discussion of what makes certain personal essays stand out in what is an increasingly crowded genre.

Also: can anti-racism reading lists help white people grow? Finally, we talk a little about how we pick things to read while we’re in the midst of our own writing projects.

As always, you can listen to the podcast right here on our site. Or check us out via Apple Podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!), so that you’ll never miss another weekly episode. We’re also in Spotify, Stitcher, and just about any other podcast app you might use (if you can’t find us somewhere, reach out and let us know!)

If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5, you’ll get access to three bonus episodes a month, including Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations. How do you talk to a writer whose work you like after a reading? How do you promote your own writing without annoying people? Should you force your spouse or significant other to read your work? We’ve got the answers to these and many other pressing questions.

Until next time: thanks for listening!

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Episode 332: Rich People Problems

This week we’re discussing Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s Fleishman Is In Trouble, a book that’s been described as the novel Phillip Roth would have written if Phillip Roth understood women. Which is a pretty good Phillip Roth zing, but also maybe true? We talk about the book’s depiction of internet dating, whether its view of marriage is cynical or pragmatic, and why at least one of us felt the need to reconsider some of his own behavior after reading the novel’s closing chapters. Plus: we offer some advice for writers who are trying to promote their work online without stepping on the important work being done–on Twitter and elsewhere–by Black Lives Matter and anti-police activists. Is is possible to talk about your own stuff without getting in the way of an important political and cultural moment? Should you just shut up for a while?

As always, you can listen to the podcast right here on our site. Or check us out via Apple Podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!), so that you’ll never miss another weekly episode. We’re also in Spotify, Stitcher, and just about any other podcast app you might use (if you can’t find us somewhere, reach out and let us know!)

If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5, you’ll get access to three bonus episodes a month, including Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations. How do you talk to a writer whose work you like after a reading? How do you promote your own writing without annoying people? Should you force your spouse or significant other to read your work? We’ve got the answers to these and many other pressing questions.

Until next time: thanks for listening!

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Episode 331: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

This week we’re discussing Elle Nash’s 2018 novel Animals Eat Each Other, in which a nameless narrator enters into a rather fraught three-way relationship with a tattoo artist/Satanist and his girlfriend. We talk about what makes for good/interesting writing about sex, and how a book like this might hit differently at different ages. Plus: another installment of Judge A Book By Its Cover!

For those of you playing along at home, here are the covers from our Judge A Book By Its Cover segment:

As always, you can listen to the podcast right here on our site. Or check us out via Apple Podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!), so that you’ll never miss another weekly episode. We’re also in Spotify, Stitcher, and just about any other podcast app you might use (if you can’t find us somewhere, reach out and let us know!)

If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5, you’ll get access to three bonus episodes a month, including Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations. How do you talk to a writer whose work you like after a reading? How do you promote your own writing without annoying people? Should you force your spouse or significant other to read your work? We’ve got the answers to these and many other pressing questions.

Until next time: thanks for listening!

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Episode 330: The Politics of Absurdity

This week we’re reading one of Donald Barthelme’s first published stories, “A Shower of Gold,” which prompts a discussion of the relationship between postmodern absurdity and contemporary politics. Also: we check out recommended reading lists from Hallmark movie actor and producer Candace Cameron Bure and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea. You might be surprised by what at least one of them is reading!

As always, you can listen to the podcast right here on our site. Or check us out via Apple Podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!), so that you’ll never miss another weekly episode. We’re also in Spotify, Stitcher, and just about any other podcast app you might use (if you can’t find us somewhere, reach out and let us know!)

If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5, you’ll get access to three bonus episodes a month, including Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations. How do you talk to a writer whose work you like after a reading? How do you promote your own writing without annoying people? Should you force your spouse or significant other to read your work? We’ve got the answers to these and many other pressing questions.

Until next time: thanks for listening!

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