Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


Episode 101: James Tate Hill, Academy Gothic

This week’s book was the winner of the Nilsen Prize for a First Novel, sponsored and funded by Southeast Missouri State University. James Tate Hill‘s book is both a detective novel and an academic satire, set at a small private college where the dean has either killed himself or (more likely) been murdered.


We try our best to talk about the book without giving away any plot spoilers. We also talk about the conventions of detective novels, and the vagaries of academic life.

In the second half of the show we’ve got a new installment of Raccoon News, which this week features some historical raccoon news. Plus we pay another visit to the NaNoWriMo forums to answer questions about how college kids talk, what tweens are like, and how to make friends.

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.

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Episode 18: Theodore Weesner, The True Detective

We welcome special guest Stewart O’Nan, author of The Odds, Last Night at the Lobster, A Prayer for the Dying, and many, many more, to discuss a book he calls “a great American novel no one has read.” Theodore Weesner’s The True Detective tells the story of a child’s abduction from multiple perspectives: the family of the victim, the kidnapper, and the detective attempting to break the case. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill procedural; instead the book seeks to mine the the complicated emotional terrain of its characters, exploring how they’re affected by this web of tragedy. Continue reading