Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


Spring of Spite: Edgar Allan Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado”

Today we’re once again sponsored by 21st Century Prose, an open-access book series published by the University of Michigan Press. Go here to check out their books (use promo code BOOKFIGHT for 30% off any orders) and even read them for free. Go here to read series editor Matthew Vollmer’s mission statement for the series.

It’s the final week in our Spring of Spite series, and we’re going Poe! “The Cask of Amontillado” is spiteful in at least two ways: the narrator is certainly motivated by spite, at least in part, as he walls his “friend” up in his own tomb. But Poe also drew on some personal feelings of spite while writing it. We talk this week about our experiences with Poe, and our (differing) interest levels in continuing to read his work. We also try to unpack the complicated feud between Poe and some letter-writing ladies that led, at least indirectly, to this story’s creation.

We’ve also got some other tales of spite this week, including a couple that are ripped from the headlines: Bobby Flay’s spiteful (and ongoing) divorce proceedings, and George Lucas’s plans to build spite-fueled low-income housing in Marin County. Plus a woman who just kept fucking louder qnd louder until a judge finally tossed her in jail. And the long-running love/hate relationship between Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski.

Finally this week, we consider the lack of good contemporary literary feuds, and speculate about what might be making today’s writers less prone to feud-based dramatics.

As always, you can listen to the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the streaming player below. Or you can download the mp3 file. Or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can listen to back episodes and subscribe (for free!) to make sure you never miss another installment. While you’re in iTunes, please take a second to leave us a rating and a review. Both those things help the show move up the charts and ultimately allow us to reach a wider audience.

We’re always happy to hear what you think about what we discussed on the 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’ll post occasional photos and notes, and maybe preview upcoming show features.


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Fall of Failure Episode 6: Daniel Hoyt and Artistic Failure

Our story this week, “Here I Am,” by Daniel Hoyt, was originally published in the winter issue of The Cincinnati Review. It’s about a man who continues to live after his head is violently separated from his body. We’re also talking this week about artistic failure. We consider why those treacly lists of “famous people who failed/were rejected” get under our skin. And then we talk about a couple specific “failures” (application of the term is always somewhat debatable): Antonin Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, which is still incomplete nearly 90 years after his death; and the attempted smear campaign against Edgar Allan Poe by his literary nemesis.

For good measure, we cap off this week’s episode by considering the adult career of Jonathan Lipnicki.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the little player thingy below. Or download the mp3 file. You can also visit us in the iTunes store, or through just about any of the available podcast apps, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode.


Download Fall of Failure #6 (right-click, save-as)

We always welcome your feedback on what we talked about on the show. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the episode post. Thanks for listening!