Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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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!

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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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Episode 85: Donald Antrim, Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World

This week we’ve got our second donor pick of 2015: Donald Antrim’s 1993 debut novel, which imagines a dystopic suburbia: people have dug moats around their houses, the woods between two warring families are filled with mines, and the mayor, in the book’s opening scene, is drawn and quartered. We talk about the limits of irony, and try to figure out why neither of us loved this book as much as we thought we might.

Antrim

Also this week, we’ve got another installment of Fan Fiction Corner. We don’t want to ruin the surprise in this week’s surprising character pairings, but let’s just say they are … surprising!

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 more people.

We’re always happy to hear what you think about the things 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: As of a few days ago, we’re now on Facebook! So come visit us over there, where we’ll post occasional photos and show notes, and maybe preview upcoming show features.

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Episode 64: Anita Konkka, A Fool’s Paradise

This week Tom continues his year of reading books outside his usual comfort zones, with Finnish author Anita Konkka’s A Fool’s Paradise, from Dalkey Archive Press. The book is written much like a diary, following the daily musings of an unemployed woman who is having an affair with a married man. We talk about the risks and potential rewards of writing a book without much in the way of plot, the novel’s aphoristic style, and how many recountings of one’s dreams are too many recountings of one’s dreams.

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We’ve also got a new installment this week of Fan Fiction Corner, during which we get to know some popular fan fiction tropes. We’ve got a little bit of everything: accidental marriages, non-sexual showers, alien pheromones, and erotic tentacles. All trope definitions come from Fanlore, in case you’d like to explore any of them further (no judgment!)

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. Or check us out in the iTunes store, Instacast, Stitcher Radio, or just about any other podcast app you can find. We’d love to hear your feedback on what we talked about. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site.

Thanks for listening!

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Episode 60: Kevin Canty, Into the Great Wide Open

This week’s book, Kevin Canty’s first novel (published in 1996), is one of Mike’s favorites. We talk about what makes you return to a book, what it is Mike finds so beautiful and heartbreaking in this story of doomed teenage love, and whether Tom is on board with declaring this a great book.

Canty

We’ve also got a new installment of Fan Fiction Corner, during which we take a look at Wattpad, a free app that allows writers to post their work and get instant feedback from others. Not all the work on Wattpad is fan fiction, but a lot of it is. You can read the New York Times article we discussed here. Also, Mike managed to dig up some fan fiction about NBC’s hit show The Voice, which will make one to three of our listeners very happy.

A couple bits of self-promotion. You can read Tom’s ongoing series about daytime talk shows on his site. Mike has a new story, “The Ruling Classes,” in the new issue of December Magazine, and an essay called “A Curious Inheritance” in the spring issue of The North American Review.

We welcome any and all feedback on the episode: feel free to shoot us an email, tweet at us, or just leave a comment here on the blog. Also, check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode. While you’re there, please consider leaving us a review, which will help us connect with new listeners.

Thanks for listening!

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