Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


Summer of Shorts Episode 5: Gaitskill and Gym Shorts

This week we’re discussing a Mary Gaitskill short story, “The Girl on the Plane,” and also gym shorts. What more could you need to know?

Okay, fine. The story is from Gaitskill’s 1997 story collection Because They Wanted To. The story doesn’t seem to be available online anywhere, so you’ll have to track down the book, or Best American Short Stories, 1993, in which this story is featured. Also, fair warning: the story does contain some graphic sex, some of which is, at best, semi-consensual. Just putting that out there as a kind of trigger warning. We talk about aggressive masculinity, cultural awareness of sexual politics, and trapping your characters in enclosed spaces.


This week’s shorts, meanwhile, comprise a pretty broad category, which is described in this questionably sourced Wikipedia entry. We talk about “wicking,” whether it’s okay to go shirtless in public during the summer months, and to what degree our middle- and high-school gym class experiences match up with the portrayal of gym class in pop culture.

As always, the episode is available to stream, below, by clicking on the little player thingy. Or you can download the mp3 file. Or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode. We welcome your comments on the episode. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a note here on the episode’s blog post. Though Mike is on vacation for a few more days (this is him talking to you from the past … spooooooky!) so if you have comments directed specifically at him, the response might take a little longer than usual. Or, you and Tom can just gossip about him in his absence.

Thanks for listening!


Download Summer of Shorts #5 (right-click, save-as)