Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 36: Robert Kloss, Alligators of Abraham

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This week’s book we’re calling “historical magical realism,” though it’s possible we’ve just made that term up. But it seems fitting for a book largely about the American Civil War that also features a veritable plague of alligators. It’s also a book that made Mike question how we’re meant to rate the novels we read. Are we supposed to be objective, or at least make nods toward objectivity? Or is the show about our personal, idiosyncratic reading experiences, no matter how non-representational they might be of the larger reading public?

A good podcast raises questions, listeners, rather than answers them (or at least that’s what we’re telling ourselves).


Oddly enough, we have fewer moral qualms when it comes to judging books by their covers, which we also do this week, for two books we know nothing about and picked up from the Free Books Table in our office hallway. We’re including cover photos here, in case you’d like to judge along at home (feel free to tell us how wrong we are in the comments):

Invisible Ones

Lewis and Clark

Of course Mike is somewhat partial to the second cover, since he’s a descendant of Clark’s, and frankly has never particularly cared for Clark’s getting second billing in that duo (let’s please just ignore, for the moment, his reputation as a particularly cruel slaveowner, which Mike would just as soon not dwell on; apparently he was kinda okay in his position as superintendent of Indian Affairs? Maybe? Like, at least a little more progressive than many of his contemporaries?)

In addition to the novel-reviewing and cover-judging, we’ve also got a couple recommendations for documentaries available on Netflix streaming, plus all our usual stories and nonsensical banter. Like the time Mike was nearly attacked by an alligator (or possibly a crocodile?). As always, you can stream the episode for free, right here on our site, or you can check us out in the iTunes store, where you can download all our back episodes for free and subscribe, so you never miss another update. Also: how about visiting our sponsor, Powell’s Books, by clicking on any of the buttons around our site? Anything you buy from their online store will throw a little change back in our direction. Or just click on the piggy bank in the right-hand column and give us money because why wouldn’t you want to give us money?

Finally, if you’re interested in our one-day Philadelphia writing conference–Sept. 28–here’s the website with more information.

Thanks for listening! Tell your friends!


Download Episode 36 (right-click, save-as)


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

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