Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Summer of Shorts Episode 3: Beard and Skorts


This week’s short-story pick is actually an essay: Jo Ann Beard’s “Werner,” which appears in the 2007 edition of Best American Essays, edited by David Foster Wallace. Actually, much of our discussion concerns whether it’s fair to call this an “essay.” It’s based on real events, but pretty clearly takes fictional liberties, such as inhabiting the mind of its protagonist (not the author) in a move more frequently seen in short stories. The essay isn’t available for free online, but you can read another Jo Ann Beard piece, “The Fourth State of Matter,” on The New Yorker website.

Our shorts for the week are another genre-bender: skorts, against which Mike has a long-standing personal grudge. We explore that grudge in depth, as well as several of Tom’s childhood grudges. Talking about shorts, it turns out, tends to be a real walk down memory lane.


Talking points this week include: genre distinctions, recess, bird poop, disappointing limo rides, condiments, lisps, Pee Wee football, magazine sales, enviable prose, and burning buildings.

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 subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode. We welcome your feedback on what we talked about this week. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on this post.

Thanks for listening!


Download Summer of Shorts: Beard and Skorts (right-click, save-as)


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

2 thoughts on “Summer of Shorts Episode 3: Beard and Skorts

  1. Great episode today, guys!:) Love the banter and the off-topic discussions as well as the serious stuff. I’ve always wondered where the fine line is between memoir or nonfiction and fiction as well, so your discussion is thought provoking. Looking forward to next week’s episode:)

  2. Very funny episode. As someone who dislikes the “short pants” talk, I appreciate how you managed to turn the skorts into a metaphor for fiction masquerading as non-fiction. The was clever.

    The issue of fiction labeled non-fiction is one I think about a lot, probably kicked off by the cartoonist Seth, and how cheated I felt fifteen years ago when I discovered his “autobiographical” comic book Palookaville (in which he searched for and tracks down a long lost cartoonist) was in fact made up. I’ve since gotten over the mislabeling of his work and enjoy for the book for being a great story masterfully told.

    The essay you discuss is obviously different, as the writer didn’t invent facts. I wish I could find a copy as I really enjoyed the excerpt read.

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