Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 103: Renata Adler, Speedboat

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This week’s book is a Mike pick, Renata Adler’s 1976 novel Speedboat, a book that’s been a touchstone to many other writers, including David Shields and David Foster Wallace. The novel received its share of praise when it was first released, but then fell out of print before the New York Review of Books published a new edition in 2013 (along with a reissue of her book Pitch Dark).


In the first half of the show we try our best to figure out this slim novel, which is made up of a bunch of loosely connected vignettes and essayistic asides. In the second half of the show we talk about Adler’s famous 8,000-word take-down of Pauline Kael, “The Perils of Pauline,” published in the New York Review of Books in 1980.

We also talk about the strange (and ultimately sad) case of Richard Brittain, who in 2014 tracked down and assaulted someone who wrote a negative review of his self-published novel. Previously, Brittain had gained some internet infamy for a very creepy post he wrote on his own website, called “The Benevolent Stalker.” He’s since updated that post to indicate he knows how “deeply disturbing” his behavior was, and that he’s entered therapy.

Finally, we take another deep dive into the National Novel Writing Month forums to see what our intrepid NaNo-ers are fretting about as their month of intense world-building (and word count building!) continues.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we talked about this week. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re on Facebook, and gradually getting better about posting studio pics and links and such. So come visit us over there, like our page, etc. etc.

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Download Episode 103 (right-click, save-as)


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

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