Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 189: Summer of Selfies, Tom Chiarella (“My Education”)


This week we continue our Summer of Selfies theme by discussing confessional essays, including one by Tom Chiarella, a long-time writer and editor for Esquire. Chiarella is perhaps best known for his in-depth profiles of celebrities, but in this case he turns the lens to focus on himself, writing about the abuse he suffered at the hands of a Catholic-school teacher. What makes “My Education” particularly interesting is Chiarella’s ambivalence about documenting his experience in the first place. What are the benefits of sharing one’s traumas? What are the benefits of reading about someone else’s?

We also talk more generally about confessional essays, and we catch up with Millennials, to see what they’re killing or not killing this week!

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, where you can catch up on back episodes and subscribe (for free!) so you never miss another weekly installment.

Stream Episode 189:

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Thanks for listening!


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

5 thoughts on “Episode 189: Summer of Selfies, Tom Chiarella (“My Education”)

  1. RE: Celebrity profiles, the first thing that sprung to mind about “good ones” were some I’d read written by Roger Ebert from the 70s and 80s, particularly this one about Muhammad Ali. It’s centred around Ali watching ROCKY PART II (a Bookfight connection right there), but Ebert manages to paint a strong image of what Ali is like during that time; playful, self-absorbed, wise, beloved. It’s a terrific afternoon Ebert captures, funny, insightful, you should check it out.

  2. Why didn’t you guys look anything up about Chiarella (pronounced key-uh-rella)? Like, for instance, who his editor was. To vocally wonder about how the pitch went for this essay is ridiculous. Do 2 seconds of research.

    • Hey Micah – we tend to do a fair amount of research for the show, more than probably turns up in our discussions. Often, conversation steers in directions that we didn’t anticipate, so the prepared points get pushed aside.

      We don’t pretend to be journalists, so it would be very unlikely for us to try to identify and contact the editor of a 14-year-old article to ask questions about it. Some shows do that, and it’s cool. But it’s not really our thing. Thanks for listening.

    • Relax, dude, you can do the same research yourself. If you want to make a positive contribution, do some research and report back for the benefit of all the readers and listeners.

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