Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


Episode 119: Winter of Wayback, 1975 (Harry Crews)

Spring is in the air, Book Fighters! It’s also on the calendar. Which means this is your last installment of the Winter of Wayback for the year, before we move on to our next theme. But more on that later. For now, let us take you back to 1975: Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was topping the pop charts, along with America’s “Sister Golden Hair” and “Fox on the Run,” a song one of us always thinks is by ELO but is actually by a band called Sweet, which originally called itself Sweetshop, but in the early 70s began to gradually transition from their bubblegum pop sound into a glam-rock outfit that dressed like this:


Speaking of what people looked like in 1975, here’s a picture of author Harry Crews from that era. This week’s reading selection was an essay he published in Playboy, about meeting some grits near the Appalachian Trail, in Johnson City, Tennessee.


The essay we read was later collected in his book Blood & Grits, which seems to be out of print these days, though you can track down copies at used bookstores or online. We got a scanned copy of the essay through our university library, because we’re super fancy. And resourceful! That also means we got to read the Playboy cartoons scattered throughout the scanned pages, a selection of which we’d post here except they all have boobs in them.


One of us liked the essay quite a bit. The other of us felt the voice was a bit contrived or put-on, but maybe that’s because the other of us has never lived in the south? Then again, one hallmark of our show is that everyone is entitled to their opinions, even when those opinions are wrong and dumb.

Speaking of opinions that are wrong and dumb, 1975 also marked the beginnings of what became the Men’s Rights Movement. Though at first it was really just a pleasant adjunct to feminism, a way to examine how rigid notions of masculinity could be harmful to dudes. Fair enough! Later, the movement split into different factions, including one faction that held the kinds of sensitivity retreats that were well-meaning but also easy to mock. And then another faction that grew neckbeards and developed strong opinions about custody laws and ethics in videogame journalism, which opinions they like to shout at feminists on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet.

We’ve got plenty of other 1975 stuff on this week’s episode, too, but we won’t spoil it for you. Give the episode a listen, won’t you? It’s free, and anyway, what the hell else have you got going on? You can stream the episode below, or download the mp3 file. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts. See you next time! Thanks for listening!

Oh, and if you’re at AWP this year: drop by the Barrelhouse Magazine table and say hello, or come to our panel on Saturday morning, about literary podcasting. If you’re nice to us, maybe we’ll even give you a beer koozie (or at least a postcard).


Download Episode 119 (right-click, save-as)