Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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Episode 3: Joan Didion, Play It As It Lays

Episode Three is a Mike Suggestion: the 1970 Joan Didion novel Play It As It Lays, which Mike remembered reading on a cross-country flight from Portland and liking quite a bit, though the only specific thing he could remember, in hindsight, was a single line of dialogue toward the book’s end that was so heartbreaking it actually made him stop reading for a few seconds and contemplate its particular bleakness.

So, a cheery book, obviously.

On the podcast, Mike and Tom try to figure out what separates this novel from the thousands of others that traffic in bleak, amoral human landscapes. Tom shares a story about his 14-year-old self he’s never told anyone, including his wife. Mike admits that, as a young person, he romanticized a certain dark worldview that seems kind of silly, even embarrassing, to his 35-year-old self. And they both agree that this novel is a pretty good argument in favor of continuing to fund Planned Parenthood. Continue reading