Book Fight!

Tough love for literature


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Episode 397: Dan Brady

Our guest this week is longtime Barrelhouse poetry editor Dan Brady, whose most recent book, Subtexts, uses some interesting constraints to create erasures and layerings of language. His pick for us was another book of poems created through an innovative process: White Bull, by Elizabeth Hughey. The poems in Hughey’s book are all assembled from the words of Bull Connor, Birmingham, Alabama’s famous segregationist public safety commissioner.

If you like the show, and would like more of it, we’re releasing two bonus episodes a month to our Patreon subscribers, for only $5: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight

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Episode 396: Laura McGrath

Our guest this week is Laura McGrath, an assistant professor of English at Temple University, where she teaches literary criticism and contemporary literature–including a class about best sellers. It’s in that context that she chose our book, Valley of the Dolls, the 1966 camp classic by Jacqueline Susann. We talk about the book as both a novel and a cultural phenomenon, and what McGrath’s students make of it all these years later.

If you like the show, and would like more of it, we’re releasing two bonus episodes a month to our Patreon subscribers, for only $5: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight

Stream or download the episode here:

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Episode 395: Inga Saffron

Our guest this week is Inga Saffron, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer. We talk about Jane Jacobs’ groundbreaking work in urban studies, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and how it’s weathered the test of time since its publication in the 1960s. We also talk about the past and future of journalism, Inga’s work as a foreign correspondent in Russia, and lots of other stuff.

If you like the show, and would like more of it, we’re releasing two bonus episodes a month to our Patreon subscribers, for only $5: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight

Stream or download the episode here:

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Episode 394: Danielle Evans

Our guest this week is Danielle Evans (The Office of Historical Corrections), who chose the 1929 Harlem Renaissance novel Plum Bun, in part because she’s lately been particularly interested in narratives about passing. We talk about how Jessie Redmon Fauset’s novel compares to other passing narratives, how Danielle’s students respond to the book, and

If you like the show, and would like more of it, we’re releasing two bonus episodes a month to our Patreon subscribers, for only $5: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight

Stream or download the episode here:

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Episode 393: Mike Meginnis

Our guest this week is Mike Meginnis (Drowning Practice, Fat Man and Little Boy). He joins us to discuss a playful genre-bending novel by Megan Milks, Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body. We also talk about Mike’s relationship to genre, the similarities between genre and gender categories, and why he rarely cries.

You can find Milks’ novel here: https://www.feministpress.org/books-a-m/margaret-and-the-mystery-of-the-missing-body

And find out more about Mike and his work here: https://www.mikemeginnis.com/

If you like the show, and would like more of it, we’re releasing two bonus episodes a month to our Patreon subscribers, for only $5: https://www.patreon.com/BookFight

Stream or download the episode here:

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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.

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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.

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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:

Download Ep 388