Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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Episode 320: Tony the Tiger is a Snack

This week we’re discussing a short story recommended to us on Twitter as “feel-good literary fiction,” though we’re not sure that label is totally apt. “The Era,” by Nana Kwame Adjei–Brenya, was first published in Guernica in April 2018. It’s funny, and and strange, but “feel-good”? The jury’s still out.

Also this week: NaNoWriMo has fired up its engines in response to the current pandemic, aiming to get people writing while they’re stuck at home. Which means it’s time for us to take another visit to the NaNoWriMo forums, to answer some pressing questions about vampires who eat regular food, what to name an Irish factory owner, and lots of other stuff. AND, as if that wasn’t enough for one episode, we’ve also got some Tony the Tiger fan fiction. Who knew Tony was so sexy? (the whole internet, apparently)

As always, you can listen to the show right here on our site. Or check us out via Apple Podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!), so that you’ll never miss another weekly episode. We’re also in Spotify, Stitcher, and just about any other podcast app you might use (if you can’t find us somewhere, reach out and let us know!)

If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5, you’ll get access to three bonus episodes a month, including Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations. How do you talk to a writer whose work you like after a reading? How do you promote your own writing without annoying people? Should you force your spouse or significant other to read your work? We’ve got the answers to these and many other pressing questions.

Until next time: thanks for listening!

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Episode 319: The Infamous Bengal Ming

This week we’re discussing a story about a murderous tiger by Rajesh Parameswaran, which was first published in Granta and then appeared in his 2013 book I Am An Executioner. The story raises a number of questions, like: Do tigers have the mental ability to make choices? And: Do we want to follow an animal around for 21 pages? Answers, it turns out, are mixed.

Also this week, the triumphant return of Fan Fiction Corner! Featuring some very sexy Mr. Clean fanfic (or very weird, depending on your personal proclivities). And Tom’s got some raccoon news. All the old favorites!

If you like the show, and would like more Book Fight in your life, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. For $5, you’ll get access to three bonus episodes a month, including Book Fight After Dark, where we read some of the world’s weirdest–and steamiest!–novels. We’ve also recently begun a new series of Patreon-only mini-episodes called Reading the Room, in which we offer advice on how to navigate awkward, writing-related social situations. How do you talk to a writer whose work you like after a reading? How do you promote your own writing without annoying people? Should you force your spouse or significant other to read your work? We’ve got the answers to these and many other pressing questions.

Until next time: thanks for listening!

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Episode 172: George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo

We’re back, baby! And we’re talking about George Saunders’ new novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, a story about a bunch of spooky ghosts hanging out in a graveyard with Abraham Lincoln’s son. We’re both fans of Saunders’ work, so we were curious to see whether we’d like this new one, which is a bit of a departure for him–or perhaps an evolution?

Also: Cheers fan fiction! So that’s pretty exciting.

Oh, and here’s a link to the Laura Miller piece we talked about in the second half, if you’d like to read it for yourself.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another weekly installment.

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Episode 169: Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

Welcome back, listeners, to our weekly podcast that occasionally talks about good books, instead of books that, frankly, have very little reason to exist. Sorry, one of us is still a bit salty about that one. But this week we’ve got a veritable classic: Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, which nearly everyone agrees is great, except perhaps Tom, but that’s only because he has questionable taste.

Mike has been wanting to revisit Rhys’s 1966 novel for some time now, since it often comes up in discussions of fan fiction: the book is a sort of prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, telling the story of Rochester’s first wife, who in that novel is presented as a “madwoman in the attic.” Rhys explores her fractured family life in Jamaica, her Creole heritage, and the early stages of her marriage to Mr. Rochester.

In the second half of the show, we debut a new segment about academic writing called “Do What?” Also: a quick installment of Fan Fiction Corner. Prepare to have your motor revved, listeners!

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 directly. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or wherever you get your podcasts. We welcome your feedback: shoot us an email, leave a comment here on the site, or find us on social media (we’re on both Twitter and Facebook these days).

Thanks for listening!

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Episode 163: Sara Novic, Girl at War

Our book this week is Sara Novic’s Girl at War, a novel about a young woman whose life was ripped apart by the Yugoslav Civil War. It took her parents from her, and briefly turned her into a child soldier, before she was able to escape to Philadelphia, where she did her best to put the past in the past and live as an American.

The book received mostly positive reviews, like this one in the New York Times, though we also discuss the book’s most over-the-top takedown, from the Irish Times.

novic

In the second half of the show, we’ve got the return of Fan Fiction Corner! Have you ever wondered what kind of fan fiction people were writing about HGTV programs? No? Well, you’re going to find out anyway!

property-brothers-jonathan-drew-scott-facts

As always, you can listen to the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the player thingy below. Or download the mp3 file and do with it what you will. You can also find us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another installment again.

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Episode 144: Javier Marias, A Heart So White

This week we’re discussing a book by an author we’ve both been wanting to read for a while now. Marias has been widely praised, and this book is considered one of his best. Friend-of-the-show Elisa Gabbert recently wrote an essay for The Smart Set in which she used this book to explore what it is she loves about reading novels. So: lots of good reasons to finally check it out.

marias

We talk about our expectations for novels, and the kind of book you can sink into without worrying or even caring where it’s going.

In the second half of the show we’ve got another installment of Fan Fiction Corner, featuring Alvin and the Chipmunks, as well as the Chipettes. Things get unexpectedly dark.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also visit us in the iTunes store, where you can catch up on back episodes and subscribe (for free!) so you never miss another installment.

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Episode 138: Walter Mosley, Devil in a Blue Dress

This week is Tom’s pick, the first published novel by Walter Mosley, and the first in his long-running Easy Rawlins series: Devil in a Blue Dress. The book first came out in 1990, and a few years later inspired a Denzel Washington film of the same name. In the book, we first meet Rawlins, a WWII vet and reluctant detective living in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, circa 1948. Rawlins gets pulled into a mystery he doesn’t fully understand, and isn’t sure he wants to understand, but pretty quickly he’s too enmeshed to get out.

Mosley

In the second half of the show, we bring back Fan Fiction Corner, i.e. the segment in which Mike finds interesting or weird fan fiction on the internet and Tom gets confused and possibly angry about it. In this week’s segment: a Christian version of Harry Potter that won’t turn your kid toward withcraft, plus maybe the lamest dystopia ever.

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, download the mp3 file, or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another installment. We’re also on all the major podcast apps, including Stitcher and Instacast.

Thanks for listening!

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