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Tough love for literature


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Episode 207: John Cheever, “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor”

Hey, here’s another holiday-themed episode. We discuss a John Cheever story, “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor.” You can read it online, via The New Yorker, if you’re into that kind of thing. Or just listen to us yammer for an hour. That’s fun, too! We talk about all kinds of stuff. After listening to this week’s episode, you may not be any smarter, but you will definitely be one hour older.

Merry Christmas!

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or in just about any app you might use to listen to podcasts.

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps offset our costs and allows us to keep doing the podcast each week. In exchange for $5, you’ll also get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we discuss the wide world of romance novels.

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Episode 206: Peter Straub, Ghost Story

You may be asking yourself how this week’s pick is a “holiday book,” exactly. Fair question! But one which Mike explains, more or less, in the episode. It’s also one of our only forays, thus far, into the horror genre, and we talk a little about what makes a horror book scary, plus what separates real psychological horror, as opposed to the sort of blood and gore that can almost read like slaptstick. Stephen King has said that this book is one of the best horror books of the late 20th century, which is pretty high praise! Will it live up to the hype?

Also this week: A new installment of Fan Fiction corner, involving a heartwarming coffee commercial from your childhood that may be ruined soon. Sorry!

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or in just about any app you might use to listen to podcasts.

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps offset our costs and allows us to keep doing the podcast each week. In exchange for $5, you’ll also get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we discuss the wide world of romance novels.

Stream Episode 206:

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Episode 205: Mary H K Choi, “Korean Thanksgiving”

This is the second week of our special 2017 holiday mini-season, and we decided to do a second round of Thanksgiving, with an essay published in the online magazine Aeon. In the essay, Mary H K Choi talks about her family’s Thanksgiving tradition of eating in a cemetery to commune with their ancestors.

We talk about our expectations for essays, and how the term’s amorphousness can result in a lumping together of many different kinds of pieces, written for many different audiences and purposes. We also talk about authorial perspective, and how it may shift over time. Plus all our usual bullshit.

Speaking of our bullshit (and being back on it), we’ve got another installment of Fan Fiction Corner this week, featuring some heartwarming stories about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Plus a final dive into the NaNoWriMo forums, where we try our best to help struggling writers with their pressing questions.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or in just about any app you might use to listen to podcasts.

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps offset our costs and allows us to keep doing the podcast each week. In exchange for $5, you’ll also get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we discuss the wide world of romance novels.

Stream Episode 205:

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Episode 140: Gregoire Bouillier, The Mystery Guest

Mike first read this book roughly a decade ago, and recently decided to revisit it after randomly plucking it from a shelf and reading the inscription, which he’d totally forgotten about. The short work of (more or less) nonfiction tells the story of a rather unusual party invite brokered by the narrator’s ex-girlfriend. He thinks she might want to give things another go, but soon enough realizes he’s allowed himself to get his hopes up for nothing.

MysteryGuest

Bouillier is perhaps better known for his first book, Report on Myself, a thin volume about (among other things) the author’s childhood. He also gained some notoriety several years ago when his former girlfriend, Sophie Calle–who features in The Mystery Guest–put together an art installation, Take Care of Yourself, based on the breakup note Bouillier wrote her.

We talk about small-scope books, and Bouillier’s idea of a “report” as its own literary genre. We’ve also got a short installment of Fan Fiction Corner that includes a writing prompt, if any of our listeners want to take a crack at it. You can email us your attempts, if you’d like, and maybe we’ll share some on a future episode.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file directly. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Thanks for listening!

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Episode 122: Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None

One of the most popular mysteries by one of the world’s most popular mystery writers. What could possibly go wrong? Aside from the book’s weird racism, that is: while the title of this Agatha Christie novel has always been And Then There Were None, in Great Britain the original title included the n-word. So, that’s weird. Otherwise, it’s a pretty good locked-room mystery, in which ten strangers are trapped on an island and they keep getting murdered. But the racism: it’s pretty hard to look past it.

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In addition to the book, we talk about Agatha Christie’s odd, and still-unexplained, disappearance, in 1926. Here’s a link to the story from The Independent that provides some theories.

We’ve also got a new installment of Fan Fiction Corner, which at least some of you must be excited about. This week: political fanfic! Including some steamy Marco Rubio stuff!

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Thanks for listening!

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