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Episode 183: Spring Fling, Lydia Davis (“Break It Down”)

Hello, listeners! It’s the last week of our spring season, in which we’ve been reading stories about various types of flings. For this final installment, we’re discussing the Lydia Davis story “Break It Down,” from her collection of the same name. In the story, a man tries to calculate the literal cost of a love affair, though that accounting is really just a vehicle for considering the ways even a short-lived relationship–especially a short-lived relationship?–can leave lasting psychic marks.

Here’s a picture of the author, along with a quite lovely cat.

Also this week, we wrap up our discussion of literary affairs by looking at romances between writers that were actually successful. Thanks to this Lit Hub piece, by Emily Temple, for providing us lots of discussion fodder.

We’ve also got a final installment of dating advice for writers, plus some literary quotes that may (or may not) help you get that special someone into the sack.

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, by clicking on the player below. Or download the mp3 file. Or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another installment.

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Episode 181: Spring Fling, Samuel Delany (“Ash Wednesday”)

This week we’re discussing a new essay by Samuel Delany, about a trip the author took to New York to hang out with an over-50s sex club. That might sound glib, but the essay is actually a really interesting, non-sensationalistic look at the life of an aging man who considers himself a sex radical. You can read the essay here. You can also read a companion interview conducted by Junot Diaz here.

Here’s a picture of a young Delany reading his work and looking sexy as all hell.

This week we’ve also got another story of authorial sexy times. Plus: Should you date or not date someone based on their taste in books?

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, or wherever you download your podcasts. Subscribe, and never miss another installment!

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Episode 179: Spring Fling, Anton Chekhov (“The Lady With the Dog”)

This week we’re continuing our “spring fling” theme by discussing one of the most famous stories about an affair: Anton Chekhov’s “Lady With the Dog.” Is the main character redeemed by love, or is he just a selfish jerk? Should unhappily married people seek solace in the warm embrace of another? And what about the dog? What’s the dog up to?

Here’s a photo of the author, who is probably contemplating a bus ride to pound town.

We also talk this week about the many loves of Robert Lowell, and the time he appropriated his ex-wife’s letters for his own book of poetry. For more on Lowell, check out this piece from the New Republic by Michelle Dean.

In the second half of the episode, we take a trip to Yahoo Answers, to see what burning questions people have about cheating. Spoiler alert: people are the worst.

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to play on any device. Or, visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Episode 177: Spring Fling, William Trevor (“A Bit on the Side”)

This week we’re talking about a William Trevor story, “A Bit on the Side,” which traces the final moments of an affair. The story comes from his collection of the same name, first published in 2005.

We also discuss the curious case of Alexander Maksik, whose debut novel, You Deserve Nothing, was perhaps based on his own illicit affair with a 17-year-old student while he was teaching in Paris. The novel earned rave reviews, and this piece of reporting by Jezebel, which included interviews with former students of Maksik’s, didn’t seem to get much traction in the literary world.

Plus: literary gossip! Dating advice! And much, much more.

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 subscribe (for free!) and never miss another installment.

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Episode 174: Spring Fling, A.M. Homes (“A Real Doll”)

This week’s story is about an adolescent boy who starts “dating” his sister’s Barbie doll, and later he does some weird stuff with Ken. You can read “A Real Doll’ via The Barcelona Review. The story is also collected in A.M. Homes’ book The Safety of Objects.

Also this week, we discuss the time Robert Olen Butler went viral for the wrong reasons (his wife left him for Ted Turner and he wrote a weird email about it). We also pay homage to the HBO series Real Sex, a show that was sex-positive before sex-positive was a term. And Mike gives some more dating advice, this time on ghosting.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to play on your preferred device. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or through whichever app you use to get your podcasts.

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Episode 173: Spring Fling, Mary Gaitskill (“The Secretary”)

This week we’re starting a new seasonal feature: Spring Fling. We’ll be reading stories about romance, sex, lust, love, and other affairs of the heart. First up is Mary Gaitskill’s spare, understated story “The Secretary,” which some of you may know as the source material for the 2002 Maggie Gylenhaal / James Spader film. But while the film and story definitely share some DNA, the two are quite different, both in terms of plot and their main characters’ attitudes toward the dominant/submissive relationship they’ve stumbled into.

During Spring Fling we’ll also be bringing you stories of authorial romances and affairs. This week we’ve got some tales of H.G. Wells’s sexual adventurings. Plus an exploration of the science behind spring-time romance. And dating advice!

Strap yourselves in, listeners.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, by clicking the player below. Or download the mp3 file to play on whatever device you’d like. You can also find us in the iTunes store, which is probably the easiest option: download back episodes and subscribe (for free!) so you never miss another installment.

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