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Spring of Spite: Stanley Elkin, “A Poetics for Bullies”

Today’s episode is sponsored by 21st Century Prose, an open-access book series published by the University of Michigan Press. Go here to check out their books (use promo code BOOKFIGHT for 30% off any orders) and even read them for free. Go here to read series editor Matthew Vollmer’s mission statement for the series.

This week’s spite-related reading comes from Stanley Elkin, who described it as the best story he ever wrote. “A Poetics for Bullies” is pretty widely available; here’s just one of the many places online where you can read it for free. The story centers on Push the Bully, who runs up against his most difficult challenge: a new kid at school who’s beloved by his classmates and seems impervious to Punch’s attempts to knock him down a peg.

Special shout out to friend-of-the-show Christian Tebordo, who suggested this Elkin story to us, and whose newest book, Toughlaghoma, is available now from Rescue Press.

Also this week, we talk about Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, two grown men who did not particularly care for each other! Check out their appearance on the Dick Cavett Show to get a sense of their stormy relationship.

In 2007, Cavett wrote a piece about this famous episode for The New York Times, which you can still read online. A couple more quick links: an Edmund Wilson interview in which he talks about his beef with Vidal; and Vidal on Timothy McVeigh, from Vanity Fair.

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 a wider audience.

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

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Download Spring of Spite #5 (right-click, save-as)

Thanks for listening!

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Spring of Spite: Thomas Bernhard, My Prizes

This week we’re diving into the spiteful wormhole that is Thomas Bernhard’s brain. We went there once before, back in Episode 21, when Owen King joined us to talk about Bernhard’s novel Correction. This time it’s nonfiction, specifically some selections from Bernhard’s book My Prizes, which documents his experiences with several literary prizes and also includes some of the speeches he made over the years at prize ceremonies. There’s plenty of spite to go around: for other writers, for prize committees, for his native Austria, and for the idea of prizes in the first place.

Here’s a picture of Bernhard spitefully eating an ice cream cone:

Bernhard_icecream

We’ve also got stories this week about neighbors who took their spite game to the next level, including a woman who filled her own yard with feces to piss off her neighbors and a guy who faked multiple injuries to get his neighbor thrown in jail. Here’s a picture of the latter; if you see this guy in your neighborhood you might want to move:

Dated 10/03/2009 Neighbour from Hell .. Former Hells Angel David Constantine, who has been allowed by a judge to return to his home in Lanchester, County Durham, despite subjecting his next door neighbours Lucy and Stefan Ward to a catalogue of harassment, which culminated in him trying to frame Mr Ward for attempted murder when he stabbed himself in the chest. See story North News

As always, you can listen to this week’s 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.

And if you want to support Powell’s, and our show, just click on any of the store links around the site, or visit their staff picks to find new books.

We’re always happy to hear what you think about the stuff 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.

Thanks for listening! Tell your friends!

Stream:

Download Spring of Spite #3 (right-click, save-as)