Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 113: Winter of Wayback, 1883 (Sarah Orne Jewett)


Hey, did you catch last night’s big game? You know, the football contest? The Carolina Whats-Its against the Denver Something-Or-Others?

Sorry, we actually kind of hate it when writers talk that way about sports. I mean, we get it: you’re far too intellectual and cultured to ever watch a sport as brutish as American football, which of course you always refer to as American football, to distinguish it from those Premier League matches you get up early for on Saturdays. “This is the real football,” you say to your empty apartment. “I’m a citizen of the world.”

Anyway, one of us watched the big game. The other of us met a friend for drinks at a bar with no television. Said friend is a European academic, and an avowed socialist, so it’s possible that one of us will soon be deported. We’ll have to record the show via Skype. Anyway, the one of us who didn’t watch the game doesn’t have anything against football per se, or the NFL, he’s just kind of ambivalent about the whole deal, so when given the option of drinking a couple fancy IPAs and eating half of a burrata flatbread and talking to an interesting friend about life, and books, and the vagaries of online dating (said friend recently joined, and then promptly quit, an online dating site, after being barraged with messages from creeps), the choice was easy enough.

Sorry, none of this has anything to do with this week’s episode, which is really quite good, but which is not about football, nor about sharing drinks with European academics, but about the year 1883, a year which presumably featured all kinds of great literature, though the story we picked–“An Only Son,” by Sarah Orne Jewett–was, to be honest, not super-great. We understand Jewett is a celebrated chronicler of New England life, but: woof.

No offense to Jewett, though really, if she didn’t want us to make fun of her, she should’ve written a more interesting story.

Luckily for you, the listener, lots of other, much more interesting stuff was happening in 1883. Like, a tugboat painter kept having the same painting stolen. And a Philadelphia contest challenged people to drink water from the Schuylkill River (something neither of us would advise). Also, Mike’s great-great-great grandfather may or may not have killed a Native American.


Here’s a picture of the general store in Saratoga, Wyoming, run by Mike’s great-great-great grandfather and his brother. Here’s a link to the obituary of Mike’s ancestor, W.B. Hugus. We’d link here to the book passage that suggests Hugus helped murder a Native American, but it’s only available behind a library-site paywall (but you can hear it read on the show).

You can stream this week’s episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or you can download the mp3 file. Or, visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you get your podcasts, to download past episodes and subscribe (for free!) to make sure you never miss another installment. While you’re over there in iTunes, leave us a rating and a review.

Stream Episode 113:

Download Episode 113 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

6 thoughts on “Episode 113: Winter of Wayback, 1883 (Sarah Orne Jewett)

  1. 1883 may also have marked the beginning of New York’s fabled “Battle of the Dudes.”

  2. You guys are so white, you can’t even see yourselves.

    Killing a Native American – funny! Deportation? What a whirl!

    • Thanks for the note, Ani. And thanks for listening to the episode! I mean, I assume you listened to the episode, because leaving a snarky comment without actually listening to the episode would be sort of a weird thing to do. Anyway, glad you gave us a shot, at least!

      • And for the record, neither of us thinks the killing of a Native American is funny. Which we hope is abundantly obvious to anyone actually listening to the episode.

  3. Your abhorrence of Indian killing would be more obvious if you removed the laugh-track and slide whistle sound effects from that segment.

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