Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

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Book Friends

Checking in with a rare non-Monday post here to ask you all to check out THE VIOLET HOUR, a new novel by our friend and two-time guest (episodes 4 and 15) Katherine Hill.

Look, we know that if you follow a lot of lit people on Twitter and Facebook and etc, then  you’re being told to buy a dozen books a day, and you’re overwhelmed and probably annoyed. BUT, if you’ve listened to the show, you know she’s really smart and funny and has insightful things to say about literature, and anyway, look at this review in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Or any of these reviews anywhere.  Or read an excerpt.

And then go buy it (if you happen to buy it by first clicking the Powell’s link on this page, that would be okay with us). Buy three copies– one for the office, one for the car in case of traffic jams, one for home. We at Barrelhouse have known for a while now that Katherine is on the verge of becoming a Big Deal and we’re really excited for her and hope you’ll love her book.

Also: stay tuned for her world record-breaking third Book Fight appearance, which will probably post in early October and will be about Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, because Katherine I guess really thought it would be fun to make us read a 600 page book?

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Supplementary reading

A listener emailed last week to ask about our writing:

Hey, after listening to you guys in the car for months, I’m curious about your work. Would it be too weird to ask you to compile some links of easy to find stories you have out in the world?

No, it’s not too weird at all; in fact, we were hoping someone would ask.  So, for those among you curious about the work we’re producing, or those who are eager to tell us why our writing sucks, here’s a comprehensive list of our writing that’s available online.

There was a point when we both had far more web content, but that was all lost in the great Barrelhouse Website Fire of 2012, and seems to be unrecoverable. Still, a few things Mike has written:

Last Days on Eyeshot

Fantasies on Monkeybicycle

He also has a story in Heavy Feather Review 2.1, and although that’s not free, you can read it electronically (that issue also includes Official Friends of Barrelhouse Matt Jakubowski, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, and David Frederick Thomas)

I have more junk online because I waste more time online than Mike does. Truly, some of my favorite online writing ever was my short-lived series of pet book reviews that was on Barrelhouse and now seems irretrievable because I never backed them up anywhere.  But among the remains:


What it Feels Like on elimae
Suggestions for a Better Life on WordRiot
The Widow in Disgrace on FiveChapters
Chapters 1-2 of BURY ME IN MY JERSEY

Bloody Diarrhea, Crispy Bacon, and the Stories we Tell Ourselves on The Nervous Breakdown

And a bunch of stuff on my blog, which I aim to update weekly, but stick to something more like one update every 12 days or so. Three posts that are a little more developed as essays and have drawn some actual responses are here, here, and here.

As you might expect, we started the podcast partly in hopes of reaching more readers, so thanks for reading, or for at least humoring us.

We’re both actively submitting work all over the place, to a mixture of print and online journals, so we’ll be sure to mention our small victories on the show, and probably on twitter.


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Introducing Blurbs in the Wild

Hey, Internet: scroll up a little. Look at the top of this page: there’s something new.

Today, we’re rolling out a new feature on the website called Blurbs in the Wild. Go click on it. Or, actually, wait a minute, read the rest of this, and then click on it.

We talk about blurbs a lot on the show, and we’ve even tried our hand at writing blurbs in exchange for small donations, and decided it would be a fun project to collect all the most ridiculous blurbs we encounter on book jackets and elsewhere. We’ve added some already, and plan to continually update it as we find more, but we’d love your help in making the list as comprehensive as possible: send us the best bad blurbs you can find at bookfightpod (at) gmail (dot) com, or via Twitter @Book_Fight (using #BadBlurbs), and we’ll add the best ones we receive to the site.

Okay, now go click on it. Or click here and watch the magic happen.

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More ways to join the fight

Are you sitting there in your office or at your coffee shop or surreptitiously scanning your ipad in the back row of church or reading this over the shoulder of a woman in the bus depot and wondering: how can I get more Book Fight in my life? 

Probably you are. And that’s okay, because probably you are not alone.

Sure, there’s the twitter feed (@Book_fight) and there’s the Barrelhouse Facebook page, and this website, and your weekly podcasts. But something has been missing, a sense of connectedness, an opportunity to connect with other Book Fight listeners, another venue through which to send us questions and book suggestions, a place where you add your own thoughts on books we’ve discussed and can see tiny thumbnail photos of our faces while doing so.

Because we are problem solvers, we have solved that problem for you. Now you can join our GoodReads group, which offers you all those options and more. It’s actually a handy little tool to have that sight, so that you can easily tell us exactly why we’re wrong about Pym or The Art of Fielding. You can post Writers Ask questions, start discussion topics, and tell us what books we should be reading. You can follow from our discussions to see what other Goodreads users are saying.

And, actually addressing a real question we get– you can easily follow what books we’re currently reading and/or planning to read.

Probably there’s a lot more to it but we’re new to this group page thing and right now that’s as much as we’ve figured out, and, hey, listen just go join it and invite your Goodreads using friends to join so that we can build up our community and continue to grow our Internet empire.



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Testimonial/Mission Statement

Yesterday, I wrote a thing on my site in response to the recent flare-up of debate on the changing role of book critics, Jacob Silverman’s assertion in Slate that writers are too nice to one another on Twitter, and so on. It’s generated some discussion, and I’ve received a half-dozen emails from authors who wanted to share their thoughts.

One email, from Ravi Mangla (you can find him on Twitter @ravi_mangla), pretty much made my day, and also stands as a perfect testimonial to what we’re trying to do with Book Fight: Continue reading

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Writers Ask: Episode 1

This week, we debut our new feature: mini-episodes called Writers Ask, in which we dispense life and writing advice to inquisitive listeners. For the foreseeable future, the plan is to alternate between Writers Ask episodes and our standard, longer book discussions, posting new episodes every Monday.

This week’s questions:

Continue reading

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Episode 5 Preview

We’ve gotten some requests (no, really, we get actual emails [send us your comments, questions, and insults at]) to give listeners advance notice on the books we’ll be discussing, and that seems like a great idea, even though the truth is we’re barely organized enough to know the next, say, three books we’ll cover at any given time. But one thing we can tell you: Episode 5 will be a discussion of Mat Johnson’s acclaimed Pym: A Novel (Spiegel & Grau, 2011). Continue reading

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Our mascot

Pictured below is Bookfight’s (mostly) silent partner– a 13 year old Welsh Corgi named Maggie, who freaks the hell out if she’s not allowed in the basement during recording. If you listen closely to episode three, you can hear her rustling around in the background while I try to quietly make that rustling stop.

This is the face of a dog who loves books.




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Where the magic happens

Bonus features! For those who want to unravel the mystery of the Book fight basement, here are a couple photos of Mike setting up the laptop before recording episode 2.