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Spring of Spite: Stanley Elkin, “A Poetics for Bullies”

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Today’s episode is 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.

This week’s spite-related reading comes from Stanley Elkin, who described it as the best story he ever wrote. “A Poetics for Bullies” is pretty widely available; here’s just one of the many places online where you can read it for free. The story centers on Push the Bully, who runs up against his most difficult challenge: a new kid at school who’s beloved by his classmates and seems impervious to Punch’s attempts to knock him down a peg.

Special shout out to friend-of-the-show Christian Tebordo, who suggested this Elkin story to us, and whose newest book, Toughlaghoma, is available now from Rescue Press.

Also this week, we talk about Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, two grown men who did not particularly care for each other! Check out their appearance on the Dick Cavett Show to get a sense of their stormy relationship.

In 2007, Cavett wrote a piece about this famous episode for The New York Times, which you can still read online. A couple more quick links: an Edmund Wilson interview in which he talks about his beef with Vidal; and Vidal on Timothy McVeigh, from Vanity Fair.

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.


Download Spring of Spite #5 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

One thought on “Spring of Spite: Stanley Elkin, “A Poetics for Bullies”

  1. Pingback: 2015: The Book Fight! Year in Review | Book Fight!

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