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Summer of Love: Frederick Barthelme, “Shopgirls”

It’s September, the temperature is dropping dramatically (at least here in our little pocket of the world), and the kids are back in school. Which means we’ve reached the end of the road for the Summer of Love. It’s been a good run, but all good things eventually come to an end. Please join us for one final refreshing dip in the ocean, one more ice cream cone, one more dance, one more stroll down the boardwalk of love.

For the final Summer of Love episode, we’re discussing Frederick Barthelme’s “Shopgirls” (which you can read for free at that link). We talk about dirty realism, the second person, and why you’re such a weird creep.

We also talk this week about that kid at Duke who won’t read Fun Home because of boobies, and we offer some hot takes on Kim Davis.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we talked about this week. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re on Facebook, and gradually getting better about posting studio pics and links and such. So come visit us over there, like our page, etc. etc.

You can stream today’s episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

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Summer of Love: Charles D’Ambrosio, “Drummond and Son”

This week’s story is one of Tom’s favorites, which he often teaches as an antidote when his students complain that his story selections are too depressing. Though it’s debatable whether D’Ambrosio’s story of a man caring for his psychologically troubled son is really a happy one. Hopeful, maybe? In a sort of stoic way?

We talk about D’Ambrosio’s knack for dialogue, and his often beautiful sentences. Though we also discuss whether these strengths translate to readers who aren’t also writers. Does “reading as a writer,” while useful for your own writing, begin to disconnect you with how others read a story? Where’s the line between enjoyable and admirable, or is that even a line worth thinking about?

In addition to the story, we talk about some of history’s (and pop culture’s) worst dads, Canadian bears, and the TV show Sanford and Son. We also take a question from a listener about whether the way a person falls in love changes over time. Which Mike has a lot of thoughts about, though it’s debatable whether any of those thoughts are true, or even make much sense outside his own brain.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we talked about this week. Do you think we’re wrong about the story? Do you think we’re wrong about love? You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re on Facebook, and gradually getting better about posting studio pics and links and such. So come visit us over there, like our page, etc. etc.

You can stream today’s episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

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Summer of Love: Lorrie Moore, “How to be an Other Woman

This week, we’re revisiting a story from Lorrie Moore’s debut collection, Self-Help. We try to pin down what it is we find so charming about Moore’s writing voice, and why we both consistently teach her stories. We also debate the relative ethics of adultery, and give advice to a listener who has concerns about an impending wedding.

Also, Mike explores another love song, this one with some tenuous personal connections, and Tom explores whether it’s possible for your pet to love you back.

Dog-lovers will be happy to read about a study of dogs’ brain activity in response to seeing their owners (and also this story). Here’s a somewhat inspiring, if depressing, list of 6 famously loyal dogs. And, if you have database access, this article is a pretty interesting exploration of the motivations for pet ownership.

We should note that we recorded this episode before we found out we’d won a 2015 Philadelphia Geek Award. You can see some photos of the event, and the two of us in tuxes, at our Facebook page. Thanks so much to the award sponsors, and to the Academy of Natural Science in Philadelphia, for hosting the swanky event.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we talked about this week. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site.

You can stream today’s episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

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Summer of Love: David Sedaris, “I Like Guys”

This week we’re discussing David Sedaris’s essay “I Like Guys,” about an early gay experience at summer camp and how much effort the young Sedaris spent trying to keep his sexuality under wraps. The piece comes from his book Naked, though you can also listen to him read it, for free, on an episode of This American Life. We talk about some of the controversies around Sedaris’s work, including this 2007 New Republic piece accusing him of fabricating details in his stories, and more recent dust-ups over his decision to write about the suicide of his sister.

Also this week: America’s favorite TV couples. Plus we answer a listener question about fighting with your romantic partner. How much bickering and annoyance should you tolerate in a relationship? At what point is it time to bail? If you want to ask us a love-related question, send us an email, or hit us up on Twitter. But get them in soon, because the Summer of Love, sadly, won’t last forever.

Our episode this week is sponsored by a listener, Mike Prask, whose essay, “The Big Deal,” you can purchase as an Amazon single. The piece is about his daughter, who suffers from Rett Syndrome, a severe neurological condition that affects one in every 10,000 girls. All the proceeds from sales of the essay will be donated to The Rett Syndrome Research Trust. You can read more from Mike at his website, where he blogs regularly about his life and his daughter.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we discussed on this week’s show. Email us, Tweet at us, leave a comment here on the episode post. And come check us out on Facebook, where we are still getting the hang of things, but are gradually posting more content, and where your likes and shares and whatnot will possibly help us find new listeners.

You can stream this week’s episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. You can also visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, to download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

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Thanks for listening!


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Summer of Love: George Saunders, “The Barber’s Unhappiness”

This week we’re discussing the George Saunders story, “The Barber’s Unhappiness,” about a sad-sack guy with jacked-up toes who wants companionship but can’t seem to get out of his own way. We consider the story’s lessons about love and superficiality, and the line between generous and mean-spirited humor.

Also this week, we discuss the origins of computer dating, and how online dating just gives people new ways to be shallow. Plus America’s favorite wedding songs! And Tom talks about a woman he dated who isn’t his wife!

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we discussed on this week’s show. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re now on Facebook! So come visit us over there, where we are slowly getting better about posting candid studio photos and links to stuff we’ve talked about on the show.

Stream the episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

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Thanks for listening!


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Summer of Love: Allan Gurganus, “Minor Heroism”

This week we’re debuting our new seasonal theme: the Summer of Love! We’ll be reading love-related stories and essays–and maybe even some poems–and discussing love from a variety of angles. Philosophy! Psychology! The comics page! Our own questionable decision-making! And so much more.

Speaking of the Summer of Love, if you’ve got a love-related question for us, send us an email, and we’ll answer your question on an upcoming episode. We can’t promise our advice will be good, but it will be … advice!

Anyway, on to this week’s show, in which we discuss Allan Gurganus’s story “Minor Heroism,” which originally appeared in the New Yorker in 1974. If you’re a New Yorker subscriber, you can read the story here. Though as with all our episodes, you don’t have to read the story to listen to the discussion. “Minor Heroism” was, reportedly, the first story featuring gay characters to be published in the New Yorker, and we talk this week about some of the seismic shifts that have occurred in gay rights and gay acceptance over the last few decades. Since our childhoods, there’s been a pretty amazing sea change, a realization we both had after the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage.

Also this week, we test our podcasting partnership by taking a relationship quick by Doctor Phil.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we discussed on this week’s show. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re now on Facebook! So come visit us over there, where we are slowly getting better about posting candid studio photos and links to stuff we’ve talked about on the show.

Stream the episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

Stream:

Download Summer of Love #1 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!