Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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Episode 392: Dave Housley

This week we’re joined by Dave Housley to talk office novels! Dave’s most recent book, The Other Ones, is about an office that wins the lottery–or, more specifically, it’s about the people in that office who chose not to play. We also discuss Christian Tebordo’s most recent novel, The Apology, which is also set in an office and involves some Clorox-related warfare.

If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which has forced us to read books by Tucker Max, Danielle Steel, Sean Penn, and–most recently–a kid who claimed that he went to heaven.

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Episode 391: Isaac Butler

This week we’re joined by Isaac Butler (author, most recently, of The Method: How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act) to discuss a play by Annie Baker, The Aliens. Butler has worked as a theater director, as well as an author and podcaster and cultural critic, so we thought he’d be a perfect guest to help us wrap our heads around the world of contemporary theater. We talk about adapting plays for the screen, the Robert Altman version of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America that almost existed, and how to figure out the right focus for a work of research-driven nonfiction like Butler’s most recent book.

If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which has forced us to read books by Tucker Max, Danielle Steel, Sean Penn, and–most recently–a kid who claimed that he went to heaven.

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Episode 390: Asali Solomon

This week we’re joined by returning guest Asali Solomon (author of The Days of Afrekete) to discuss Kiese Laymon’s award-winning memoir, Heavy. We talk about what people expect from memoir, and why readers are sometimes put off by complicated stories without easy resolutions.

If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which has forced us to read books by Tucker Max, Danielle Steel, Sean Penn, and–most recently–Morrissey.

Stream or download the episode here:

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Episode 389: Tyrese Coleman

For our first episode of 2022, we welcome special guest Tyrese Coleman (author of How to Sit) to discuss perhaps the biggest novel in the “street lit” genre: Sister Souljah’s 1999 book The Coldest Winter Ever.

If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which has forced us to read books by Tucker Max, Danielle Steel, Sean Penn, and–most recently–Morrissey.

Stream or download the episode here:

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Episode 388: Christmas Spectacular 2021

If you’re a regular listener to the podcast, you know that we like to bring you something a little special around the holidays. This year, our Christmas book is about a very horny vampire, and we’re joined to discuss it with two superstar Barrelhouse editors: Becky Barnard and Erin Fitzgerald.

If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which has forced us to read books by Tucker Max, Danielle Steel, Sean Penn, and–most recently–Morrissey.

Stream or download the episode here:

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Unlocked: The Christmas Shoes

Happy holidays! This week, while we take our annual break, we’ve got a special bonus episode for you. We recorded this one last December for the Patreon, as part of our Hunt for the Worst Book of all Time. A novel based on a terrible song that was, for some reason, eventually turned into a straight-to-cable movie starring Rob Lowe. Enjoy!

If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which has forced us to read books by Tucker Max, Danielle Steel, Sean Penn, and–most recently–Morrissey.

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Episode 387: Christian Tebordo

We’re joined by Christian Tebordo, author of several books and director of the MFA program at Roosevelt University in Chicago. We talk about how current students respond to ambiguity in stories, how small presses have evolved over the last several years, and why The Apology might be the most earnest book Tebordo will ever write.

If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which has forced us to read books by Tucker Max, Danielle Steel, Sean Penn, and–most recently–Morrissey.

Stream or download Episode 387 here:

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Episode 386: Kory Stamper

We’re joined by Kory Stamper, professional lexicographer and author of the book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, who chose a modern retelling of Beowulf for us to read. We consider how the epic poem translates to the contemporary American suburbs, and also why Beowulf has been so enduring in the first place. We also talk to Kory about her former job at Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the politics of language, and why we’re right to roll our eyes at people who correct our grammar.

If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which has forced us to read books by Tucker Max, Danielle Steel, Sean Penn, and–most recently–Morrissey.

Stream or download Episode 386 here:

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Episode 385: Elisa Gabbert

We’re joined by Elisa Gabbert (The Unreality of Memory) to discuss Benjamin Labatut’s When We Cease to Understand the World, a book that is mostly nonfiction–about scientists whose discoveries pushed them in the direction of madness–with some fictional flourishes. We talk about genre distinctions, reading works in translation, and why fall is the best season.

We also rope Elisa into helping us answer a couple questions from the NaNoWriMo forums about naming cars and what life is like under the sea.

If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which has forced us to read books by Tucker Max, Danielle Steel, Sean Penn, and–most recently–Morrissey.

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Episode 384: Katherine Hill

It’s been a minute since we had Katherine Hill on the show, but long-time listeners may remember her multiple past appearances, including one in which we discussed Judy Blume’s Forever and another in which Mike failed to finish the very long book that Katherine picked. But now she’s back, and we’re delving into one of her recent favorites, The Copenhagen Trilogy by Tove Ditlevson, a three-part memoir that was recently released in a single hardback edition, to much buzz on the literary internet. We talk about the book’s blunt, unsentimental style, and why critics are so keen on putting it into the category of “autofiction.”

We also rope Katherine into taking a trip with us to the National Novel Writing Month forums, where we try to help writers with their world-building and character naming.

You can learn more about Katherine–and her books!–on her website, here: https://www.katherine-hill.com/

If you like the show, and would like to have more of it in your life, you can subscribe to our Patreon for $5 a month and get access to our entire catalog of bonus episodes, including our new Hunt for the Worst Book of All Time, which has forced us to read books by Tucker Max, Danielle Steel, Sean Penn, and–most recently–Morrissey.

Stream or download Episode 384 here:

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