Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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Episode 99: Karl Ove Knausgaard, A Time for Everything

Everyone these days is talking about Karl Ove Knausgaard, in particular his ambitious six-volume series of autobiographical novels, My Struggle. But fewer people seem to have read (in English, anyway) his first and second novels, which he wrote before turning his lens squarely on himself. It’s the second of those books we’re digging into this week, the doorstop-sized A Time for Everything, which recounts an reimagines several (mostly Old Testament) Bible stories while also charting the history and evolution of angels. Oh, it also tells the story of a fictional 16th-century theologian who saw some angels in the woods as a kid and basically freaked the fuck out.

THERE IS A LOT OF STUFF GOING ON IN THIS BOOK!

Knausgaard_Everything

We try our best to unpack the novel, and debate whether we should be impressed by its ambition or turned off by its sometimes-rambling narrative. We also discuss the pedantry of Medieval and Renaissance theologians, and seeing familiar stories from new, Nordic angles.

This week’s pick was the result of our listener poll, following another year’s successful fundraising drive. Thanks again to everyone who donated money, and thanks for all your book nominations!

A couple links specific to the Knausgaard book. Here’s a Guardian review that sounds kind of a cautious note about the book, praising its Biblical retellings but not sold on its essayistic jags. Here’s a more positive review from Bookforum. And here’s an interesting 2013 interview with Knausgaard from The Paris Review.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we talked about this week. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re on Facebook, and gradually getting better about posting studio pics and links and such. So come visit us over there, like our page, etc. etc.

You can stream today’s episode by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file to play on your favorite device. Or visit us in the iTunes store, or wherever you normally get your podcasts, where you can download back episodes and subscribe (for free) so that you never miss another weekly installment.

Thanks for listening! And if you like the show, tell your friends!

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Bonus Episode: Copyright, Creative Commons, and Online Piracy

At the suggestion of a listener, in this special bonus episode we’re discussing self-publishing, copyright, and how evolving digital technologies might influence both writers and publishers. Should writers and publishers embrace Creative Commons licenses and post their work online for free? Is copyright an outmoded idea? How can writers balance the desire to make a living with the desire to reach a wide reading audience?

Consider this like a Writers Ask episode with just one question–or, maybe several related questions, all circling around issues of copyright and ownership. We’d love to hear what you think: feel free to leave a comment here on the site, shoot us an email, or hit us up on Twitter.

As always, you can stream the episode here on our site, or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can download individual episodes or subscribe (for free) and never miss another installment. We’ll be back on Monday with another regular episode, on Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped: A Memoir.

Thanks for listening!

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