Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 142: John McManus, Bitter Milk


This week’s book is a Tom pick, the first novel from John McManus, though he’d previously published two story collections and become the youngest-ever Whiting Award winner. Reading the book made Mike question why he continues to do this podcast. So: good times!


Seriously, from time to time our need to keep the show honest bumps up against our desire to not burn too many bridges or be mean to people we might eventually meet in real life. And sometimes that tension causes things to get a little weird.

In the second half of the show, Mike puts Tom on the metaphorical couch to help him figure out why he keeps feeling pulled away from the book project he’s supposed to be working on. All of that probably sounds unbearably heavy, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of the usual goofiness, too.

If you want to read Mike’s essay about winter biking and online dating, you can do so here, at The Smart Set. You can read the Amy Butcher essay Mike recommended here, at The American Scholar. And here’s Tom’s latest mascot story, which he mentions at the end of the episode.

As always, you can stream the new episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file and do with it what you will. You can also check us out in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts.

Stream Episode 142:

Download Episode 142 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!

Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

2 thoughts on “Episode 142: John McManus, Bitter Milk

  1. Wow, I wasn’t expecting this episode to get quite so personal, very compelling listening. You asked near the beginning of the episode (facetiously I’m sure) why people listen to the podcast; I listen because of the dynamic between Tom and Mike. My love of books initially brought me to the podcast, but I’m pretty sure you guys could do a show on any subject and it would make interesting listening. Most things on the internet are either snark or mindless cheerleading, so awfully contrived. Bookfight! always comes across as sincere.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful message, Chris. It is pretty great to know that other people find our nonsense entertaining and/or useful (depending on the day). Also very happy to hear you think the show’s tone is sincere, because that’s definitely something we want it to be, though you never really know if you’re succeeding at it. Thanks again for your ongoing support.

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