Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

How to be a weird loner on your flight to AWP


This year, we’re both taking a break from the AWP conference, mainly due to scheduling issues but also due to the thing where AWP is exhausting and expensive and dangerous to our fragile psyches, but we will still be with you in spirit, holding our own off-site event in suburban New Jersey, in which just the two of us have a couple beers and talk about how we’re pretty glad we’re not at AWP right now.

However, if you’re looking for a great Barrelhouse experience, and you should be, then check out this post detailing where you can find all the Barrelhouse things you need to find (including Issue 14, which is fresh from the printers today, and the glorious cover of which is pasted below):


Anyway: on your flight, you will need to keep yourself entertained and also will need to do everything possible to avoid conversations with strangers. So, if you’re new to the show and don’t know where to begin or you’re just looking for a refresher on some classic episodes, here’s a sampling of Book Fight episodes of note that you can download and feed to your brain, except during takeoff and landing because you need to hear those safety instructions.

  1. AWP Dispatches (2013 and 2014) – These aren’t our traditional episodes, but they give you a pretty good sense of the AWP experience, as told by two guys who maybe aren’t cut out for this whole thing. I think the 2013 episodes are a little better than the 2014 ones, but they both are worth a listen.
  2. Silver Linings Playbook – frequently noted as a listener favorite, this was last year’s bonus episode and was a long-awaited confrontation with one of my most hated books. According to Andrew Mangan at The Colorado Review, this “is one of the funnier podcast episodes I’ve listened to that also manages to remain very enlightening craft-wise.”
  3. White Out with guest Leslie Jamison – I’ve noted several times that this might be my favorite episode of the show, because we’re discussing an interesting book in a way that really strikes our ideal balance between serious writing talk and nonsense.
  4. Christmas specials (2012, 2013, & 2014) – if you’d rather avoid really serious book talk and think you’d like the more lighthearted episodes, the Christmas specials are an ideal starting point. In them, we discuss a wide range of pretty terrible books, including Glenn Beck’s dumb Christmas novel, a firefighter romance, and an incomprehensible mystery story about a magic bounty hunter or something?
  5. Leaving the Atocha Station – if you’re interested in the episodes on the more sober end of the spectrum, then this is a pretty good representative, in which we discuss Ben Lerner’s acclaimed novel during the first half (and then, oh yeah, the second half features an installment of Mike’s forays into fan fiction, so maybe the serious stuff is mostly in the first half?)
  6. The Year of Magical Thinking – in which we discuss Joan Didion’s memoir in what actually qualifies as a more sober episode and involves no fan fiction.
  7. The True Deceiver with guest Matt Jakubowski – Matt guides us through the strange Nordic world of Tove Jannson’s fiction, discusses gender disparity in literary awards, and more. This episode also stands as one of the slightly more serious ones, if you’re into that kind of thing.
  8. Writers Ask (various) – In this feature (currently on hiatus) we answered listener questions about MFAs, submission cover letters, MFAs, and other stuff. You can dig through the full archive or just check in on episodes dealing with how to generate new material when you’re between projects, scams that prey on writers, some MFA stuff, writers in academia, literary agents, and, maybe the true fan favorites, our two NaNoWriMo episodes from last year.
  9. Fall of Failure # 7 – my favorite of our fall episodes, in which we discuss Stefan Zweig’s final published story and also look into the long history of failed comebacks (including the discovery of The Gum King himself).
  10. Winter of Wayback 1982 – not only because we’re discussing my birth year, but because of the interesting backstory of James Ferry’s “Dancing Ducks and Talking Anus.”

BONUS: the entire Summer of Shorts, unless you hate fun, in which case, just check out the stuff above.

This ought to be enough audio entertainment to keep you occupied through one layover and/or one delayed flight. If you’re looking for more, you can always dig through the archives on this site or in the iTunes store. And, hey, if you like us, please pass the word on to your friends and also leave a rating for us in iTunes.


2 thoughts on “How to be a weird loner on your flight to AWP

  1. I’m sitting out this year, too.

  2. Pingback: Where to start | Book Fight!

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