Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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Episode 306: Flash Fiction!

We’ve spent this fall season looking at some of the best stories to teach in creative writing workshops. It’s our last week, and we’re talking flash fiction. Definitions of flash vary, but generally speaking the term seems to apply to short stories of fewer than 1,000 words. We discuss our approaches toward teaching flash fiction generally, and then we dive into a few specific pieces: “What Happened to the Phillips?” by Tyrese Coleman; Jacob Guajardo’s “Good News Is Coming“; “When It’s Human and When It’s Dog” by Amy Hempel; and two short pieces by Joy Williams.

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to listen to later. Or check us out in Apple podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!) and catch up on older episodes. We’re also available on Spotify, Stitcher, or just about any other podcast app. If for some reason you can’t find us in your favorite app, please reach out and let us know!

If you like the show and would like more Book Fight in your life, consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5/month, you’ll get access to regular bonus episodes, including monthly episodes of Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations.

Thanks for listening!

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Episode 305: Multiple Points of View

This fall, we’ve been talking about the best stories to teach in a creative writing class. For this week’s competition, we’re discussing stories that are told from multiple points of view. It can be difficult enough to successfully capture a single character’s consciousness on the page, which makes our first story pick especially impressive: “The Casual Car Pool,” by Katherine Bell, which originally appeared in the fall 2005 issue of Ploughshares. Our second pick takes a different tack to exploring multiple characters, keeping a distanced, fly-on-the-wall perspective: J.D. Salinger’s “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.”

We talk about the ways we approach point of view when teaching creative writing classes, particularly when it comes to the varieties of third person narration. We also talk about the difficulty of writing from multiple points of view in a single story, and whether it’s something we’d encourage or discourage our students from trying.

Also this week: one last trip into the NaNoWriMo forums!

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to listen to later. Or check us out in Apple podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!) and catch up on older episodes. We’re also available on Spotify, Stitcher, or just about any other podcast app. If for some reason you can’t find us in your favorite app, please reach out and let us know!

If you like the show and would like more Book Fight in your life, consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5/month, you’ll get access to regular bonus episodes, including monthly episodes of Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations.

Thanks for listening!

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Episode 304: Dialogue

This fall, we’ve been talking about the best stories to teach in a creative writing class. For this week’s competition, we’re discussing dialogue, and pitting a story by Mary Miller against one by George Saunders. In Miller’s story, “Aunt Jemima’s Old-Fashioned Pancakes,” a teenage girl navigates friendship, romance, and weird dads. In Saunders’ “Pastoralia,” a man navigates a very strange job and a difficult coworker.

Also this week: another trip into the NaNoWriMo forums!

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to listen to later. Or check us out in Apple podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!) and catch up on older episodes. We’re also available on Spotify, Stitcher, or just about any other podcast app. If for some reason you can’t find us in your favorite app, please reach out and let us know!

If you like the show and would like more Book Fight in your life, consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5/month, you’ll get access to regular bonus episodes, including monthly episodes of Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations.

Thanks for listening!

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Episode 303: Special Guest Steph Cha!

This week we welcome author Steph Cha (Your House Will Pay) to discuss a book she read as a kid and wanted to revisit: Amy Tan’s novel The Joy Luck Club. Cha says she first read the novel in large part because she’d seen her mother reading it. Now, having written several books of her own, and having thought more deeply about Asian-American literature, what would she think of Tan’s breakout book?

We also talk about basset hounds, crime novels, Los Angeles in the ’90s, the politics of Nest cameras, and being a top Yelp reviewer.

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to listen to later. Or check us out in Apple podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!) and catch up on older episodes. We’re also available on Spotify, Stitcher, or just about any other podcast app. If for some reason you can’t find us in your favorite app, please reach out and let us know!

If you like the show and would like more Book Fight in your life, consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5/month, you’ll get access to regular bonus episodes, including monthly episodes of Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations.

Thanks for listening!

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Episode 302: Ripped From the Headlines

This week we’re looking at two stories that take on current events–in one case, a story about refugees at the American-Mexico border, and in the other, a story about a white college student who gets called out after posting a picture of herself in a Confederate-flag bikini. We talk about the benefits, and potential drawbacks, of teaching stories about current political controversies in a creative writing class, and how we might approach those stories with our students. Also: in a landscape crowded with really compelling narrative nonfiction, what can fiction, specifically, add to the political discourse?

The stories this week are Danielle Evans’s “Boys Go To Jupiter” (you can read it in The Sewanee Review with a subscription; it’s also in the most recent Best American Short Stories anthology) and Cristina Henriquez’s “Everything is Far From Here” (you can read that one in The New Yorker).


As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to listen to later. Or check us out in Apple podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!) and catch up on older episodes. We’re also available on Spotify, Stitcher, or just about any other podcast app. If for some reason you can’t find us in your favorite app, please reach out and let us know!

If you like the show and would like more Book Fight in your life, consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5/month, you’ll get access to regular bonus episodes, including monthly episodes of Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations.

Thanks for listening!

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Episode 301: Stories That Do Interesting Things With Time

This week, we’re on the hunt for stories that do interesting things with time. More specifically, we talk about how “time” can be a useful angle into talking about story structure in a creative writing class. Our story picks are Stuart Dybek’s “Paper Lanterns” and Raymond Carver’s “Are These Actual Miles?” (or, “What Is It,” depending on what version of the story you’ve got). Also: it’s November, which means it’s National Novel Writing Month, which means it’s time for us to visit the NaNoWriMo forums!

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to listen to later. Or check us out in Apple podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!) and catch up on older episodes. We’re also available on Spotify, Stitcher, or just about any other podcast app. If for some reason you can’t find us in your favorite app, please reach out and let us know!

If you like the show and would like more Book Fight in your life, consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5/month, you’ll get access to regular bonus episodes, including monthly episodes of Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations.

Thanks for listening!

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Episode 300: Quest Stories

This week, you might say that we’re on a quest to find the best quest story to teach in a creative writing class. For years, both of us have taught Sherman Alexie’s “What You Pawn I Will Redeem,” but for a variety of reasons–including accusations of sexual harassment against the author–we’re looking for something new. Will it be Charles Yu’s story “Fable,” or Chris Offutt’s “Out of the Woods”?

Mike had read (and taught!) another Charles Yu story in the past, and this one was recommended by one of our listeners on Twitter. Tom, meanwhile, has periodically taught Offutt’s story of a man sent on a mission to pick up a body. Both Mike and Tom studied a little with Chris Offutt in grad school, too, and have long been admirers of his writing. So this week’s contest might be a tough one!

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to listen to later. Or check us out in Apple podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!) and catch up on older episodes. We’re also available on Spotify, Stitcher, or just about any other podcast app. If for some reason you can’t find us in your favorite app, please reach out and let us know!

If you like the show and would like more Book Fight in your life, consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5/month, you’ll get access to regular bonus episodes, including monthly episodes of Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations.

Thanks for listening!

Stream Episode 300:

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