Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

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Episode 108: Elizabeth Hardwick, Sleepless Nights

Welcome, Book Fighters, to 2016! It’s a new year, and things are going to be different around here. No more messing around. Just professional, serious book criticism. After, that is, our usual 7-15 minutes of idle chit chat. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that you don’t want to change your life too suddenly. Resolutions need to be phased in!

Anyway, we do have a book to discuss this week, which is Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights. It’s another short novel, one more in Mike’s series of “first person, loosely plotted” picks of the past few months. It is okay. It maybe left us both a little underwhelmed. Or maybe we’re just tired and cranky, here at the tail end of the holiday season.


We try to figure out why the book left both of us a little cold, given that we’ve both liked other, similar novels. We also do our other, usual Book Fight-y things, like catch up about our respective Christmases, and bicker about which of us is the nice one and which of us is the mean one.

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.

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 also support the show by shopping at Powell’s: if you click on any of the links around our site, then shop as you normally would, we’ll get a small percentage of every dollar you spend.


Download Episode 108 (right-click, save-as)


Episode 57: Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station

Well, we’ve reached the end of March, and finally we’re getting a Mike pick: Ben Lerner’s much-celebrated 2011 novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, about a poet in Spain on a Fullbright struggling through a series of major and minor existential crises. We talk about poetry and “poetry,” people having “profound experiences of art” (or pretending to), and what distinguishes interesting books about writers from self-indulgent ones.


We’ve also got another installment of Mike’s Fan Fiction Corner, much to Tom’ chagrin. This week Mike’s looking at fan fiction written about characters from canonical works of literature. If you liked Of Mice and Men but found it too depressing, or if you always wanted to know more about Gatsby’s sex life, we’ve got you covered.

There’s still time to register for this weekend’s Conversations and Connections conference in D.C., which includes a full day of panels, a box-wined happy hour, and a chance to hang out with your Book Fight hosts (as long as you don’t do anything to creep us out too much).

As always, we’d love your feedback. Drop us a line, or hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Thanks for listening!


Download Episode 57 (right-click, save-as)