Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


Episode 145: Summer of Second Chances, Matthew Quick (“Don’t Hate Them Very Much”)

It’s the last week of our summer season, listeners, and we’ve got a special one to close it out. As long-time fans of the show will remember, Tom has occasionally taken issue with Matthew Quick’s work, his life, and basically his whole “thing.” So we thought that reading one of Quick’s early publications, originally featured in Agni, would provide a good chance for Tom to open up his heart and give “Q” a second chance.

You can read Quick’s story for free online, via Agni.

If you’re a newer listener, and you’re curious about Tom’s beef with Q, you can check out this free bonus episode from April 2014, in which we talk about their history and also Quick’s breakout book, The Silver Linings Playbook.

Here’s a picture of the storyteller in his natural habitat.


In the second half of this week’s episode, we eat some Pop Tarts and talk about them. Look, we never promised this show was 100% about writing and literature. Sometimes you just want to eat some breakfast pastries and try to figure out which flavor is least disgusting.

If you have opinions about Pop Tart flavors–and we suspect that nearly all of you do–you can send us an email, or leave a comment on the site, or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook. So many options! It’s sort of exhausting just thinking about it.

As always, you can stream this week’s episode right here on the site, by clicking on the little player thingy below. Or download the mp3 file, and do with it what you will You can also find us in the iTunes store, or in just about any podcasting app, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another installment.

Thanks for listening!

Stream Episode 145:

Download Episode 145 (right-click, save-as)

1 Comment

Episode 143: Summer of Second Chances, Sheila Heti (“My Life Is a Joke”)

Way back in Episode 15, we talked about Sheila Heti’s novel How Should a Person Be, a book we were both pretty harsh on. This week we’re giving Heti a second chance (not that she needs one from us; she seems to be doing just fine) by reading a recent story of hers from The New Yorker, “My Life Is a Joke.”

We talk about whether we were too quick to judge Heti’s novel, and whether our reaction came more from the book’s marketing materials than from the book itself. We also talk about what we want from fiction, and what it takes for fiction to feel “real.”

Here’s a picture of the author looking like kind of a bad ass while doing her best impression of Bjork.


Also this week: Mike shares some lessons learned from spending the summer reading book manuscripts. And we talk a lot about snacks, possibly because we were both hungry when we recorded.

You can read the Elisa Gabbert essay we discussed here, at The Smart Set.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. Or, visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free!) so that you never miss another episode.


Download Episode 143 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!

Leave a comment

Episode 141: Summer of Second Chances, Agatha Christie (“Witness for the Prosecution”)

Agatha Christie is one of the best-selling authors of all time, yet when we read her novel & Then There Were None earlier this year, we gave it mixed reviews. So in the spirit of our Summer of Second Chances, we’re giving her another go, this time reading what people (or at least some people on the internet) regard as one of her finest short stories, “Witness for the Prosecution.”

Will we come around on the famed mystery writer? Or will Christie succumb to our famously harsh two-strikes-and-you’re-out rule? Here’s a picture of the author taken just moments before she was crushed by her own back catalog:


In the second half of the show, we revisit some 90s bands that may or may not be worthy of a second chance. We also share another listener story of second chances. If you’d like to weigh in on that discussion–an artist, musician, writer, filmmaker, etc., to whom you’ve given a second chance–you can do so on our Facebook page.

As always, you can listen to the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file and take it with you. You can also visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you get your podcasts (Stitcher, Instacast, etc.). If there’s a service you use that doesn’t have us listed, just let us know! And thanks for listening!

Stream Episode 141:

Download Episode 141 (right-click, save-as)


Episode 139: Summer of Second Chances, Penelope Lively (“The Five Thousand and One Nights”)

Back in Episode 105, we read Penelope Lively’s novel Making It Up, and boy did we not care for it one bit. But maybe we just picked the wrong book, and we’d enjoy something else by this Booker Prize-winning author. So in the spirit of our seasonal theme, we decided to give Lively’s work a second chance. We read two stories from her 1997 collection, The Five Thousand and One Nights, including the title story, plus a story about an unhappy couple on a bus trip in Australia.

Here’s a picture of the author wearing a very nice hat.


Also this week, we share a listener-submitted story of literary second chances, and Mike shares some advice on getting back together (or not) with your ex. Plus Tom talks about getting dumped via Fleetwood Mac lyrics.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the player below. You can also find us in iTunes, or however you usually get your podcasts (Stitcher, Instacast, etc.). If you have thoughts about today’s show, feel free to leave them in the comments. Or send us an email, hit us up on Twitter, or like our page on Facebook.

Stream Episode 139:

Download Episode 139 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!